The paradox of our life is simply this: if you wish to be strong, confident, and live without fear you must accept the cross in your life. You will probably feel repulsed by this and everything within you will rebel against it. You will try and think of a million plans to conquer this reality, more prayer, more reading, more exercise, more sleep, more work, etc, all of which may be helpful but none of which alone is the cure. What is ironic about the cross is that it comes in different disguises and shapes. To some it might come as an illness, a death of a spouse or friend, loneliness, feeling rejected or misunderstood, bearing with a person whom we find difficult or perhaps even something as simple as the weather or living in a place we do not particularly like. Yet whatever disguise or shape the cross comes to us in our life, we can be assured that if we decide to carry the cross in union with Jesus it will become for us a bridge eventually leading us into a land of true freedom and peace. The world is terrified of appearing weak and poor. However, if you are not willing to be poor and weak then you are not willing to be strong because it is in poverty and weakness that God’s grace overflows in abundance. It is difficult in the midst of so much suffering to be grateful for the cross. However, as we look back on our life and review the moments of growth and happiness that we have experienced we will realize it was the cross that has always preceded those moments and has softened the ground we walk on, enabling the seeds of life and holiness God has planted to grow and bear fruit.
From the Franciscans Friars of the Renewal, South Bronx, New York