CrossFit: Weekly Message for 11-27-2018

Dear Friends in Christ,

Full disclosure: this email has nothing to do with physical trainers, exercise equipment, or carb counting, unless that is your cross—read on.

A popular depiction of Satanism in the media is to wear an upside-down cross as a pendant, earring, etc. I’ve always been tempted to tell a bright-eyed, bushy tailed Satanist, if he sported that upside down cross, “I see you have a devotion to St. Peter.” Sorry Satanists, the Church has a copyright on that cross: St. Peter didn’t feel worthy to be crucified in exactly the same way as Our Lord, so he was crucified upside-down, immortalizing the inverted cross as his symbol as well as the humility he’d mastered after a long life of putting his foot in his mouth due to pride.

This week we’re celebrating St. Peter’s brother, St. Andrew, and he had his own cross too: he was crucified (in Patras, Greece) on two beams fitted and set in the shape of an X. He was bound instead of nailed, and some say it was because he too didn’t want to be crucified exactly like his Savior. One Savior, two apostles, three types of crosses teach us that not all crosses are alike. No one in their right mind would think they could shoulder Our Lord’s cross. When we contemplate that cross we contemplate the throne of Christ the King, a solemnity we just celebrated last Sunday. Through that cross Our Lord ruled and schooled sin and death.

Your cross would not “fit” someone else, because if Our Lord tailored it to your strengths, qualities, and virtues, aided by his grace to take it up, your sins also tailored it to your weaknesses, defects, and vices. It’s sin that makes a life of holiness and virtue difficult, burdensome, and arduous, and it’s shouldering that cross fit just for you that you will bear spiritual fruit and grow in spiritual maturity and self-mastery.

Two complaints I hear not infrequently in the Confessional are frustration at always committing and confessing the same things and envy of others who appear to have it all together or, at least, a lighter burden to bear. To the first complaint, I remind my penitents they should thank the Lord they know the exact shape of their cross, and the exact way to bear it. To the second I remind them that everyone has a cross and it’s often hard for others to see it; it’s no coincidence that in every crucifixion we contemplate, Savior or apostle, the person affixed to it obscures our view of the cross underneath. My cross and your cross are tailor made, and with Our Lord’s grace we’ll each bear our crosses fittingly.

As we begin Advent this Sunday let’s lift high our crosses and renew our desire to take them up and follow Our Lord in a new liturgical year.

May the Lord continue to help you bear your cross, whatever it’s shape.

Father Nikola Derpich, L.C.

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