"There is no place beneath the Cross for the wordling, the slave of pleasure, or the votary of ambition. The things of earth are not there. All the earth is dark and created light has gone out. Sensuality in its lowest claims would be a fearful mockery before the emaciated form, the dislocated limbs, the agonized features of the divine Sufferer. And there no laurel of ambition awaits the wearied soul. No earthly crown is won among the skulls and noisome sights of Golgotha. He who would venture to come here and be enveloped in the shadow of this eclipse must have left behind, at least in heart and wish, the scenes of time with all that time can give. The concupiscence of the flesh must die with the convulsions of that cause the rocks to tremble; the concupiscence of the eyes must be killed before the gaze of infinite love and infinite agony that crowns the awful sight; and in the caves of the guilty earth, where the precious blood runs down, the pride of life must sink for ever. Who else would draw near the deep chilling shadows that utterly eclipse all created light and cause both flesh and heart to fear? It is the nearness of God; it is more - it is the nearness of God in suffering, making bare His mighty arm and fighting for the world's redemption."
(The Watch on Calvary, Msgr. T.S. Preston, pp.14-15)The Sign of the Cross is the essential symbol of our Faith: it is and must be everywhere not only as a sign of our salvation but as a continual reminder that we must stand ever before it. If we stand before it, all earthly desires crumble beneath it. Perhaps that is why so many run from it:
"For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, 'Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end. . . Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist and make use of the creation to the full as in youth. Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no flower of spring pass by us. Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither. Let none of us fail to share in revelry, everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment, because this is our portion, and this our lot. . . Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because He is inconvenient and opposes our actions. . .He became a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of Him is a burden to us. . ." (Wis. 2:1, 6-9, 12, 14-15)How many decisions would be made differently if we stood by the Cross daily with Mary and St. John? Pride, anger, lust, greed, gluttony, envy, and sloth cannot stand beneath the living image of our suffering and merciful Lord. He sees us, nailed to the Cross on Calvary, when we choose to sin. He allows Himself to be nailed because He is not there to reproach us with His wrath, to condemn us with His words; no, He looks sorrowfully and silently into our hearts, asking us to sin no more. The sword pierces His Mother's heart as she too sees our deliberate offenses: her heart aches for Her Son, and for those we hurt. Our Lord cries out in anguish for our soul and the souls of others who we wound so deeply by our obstinacy and pride. Can we really continue to hurt Him if we think of Him always, hanging on the cross, pouring out His love for us? Even if we continue to fail, let us never be tempted to runaway from Calvary. Let us strive once more to love as He loves when we love our spouses, our children, our neighbors, our coworkers, and our enemies. Lord Jesus Crucified, have mercy on us!