“God has ordained that our hearts will nowhere find rest and that we shall find no sustenance in this world, except in suffering at the foot of the cross of the Lord.” ~St. John of Avila

One of the most difficult lessons I have had to learn is that a desire for a more intimate relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ also brings with it the necessity to accept a life often filled with intense suffering. Those whom Christ was closest with: His Blessed Mother, St. John, and St. Mary Magdalene, all joined him at the foot of the Cross. They saw Him bleed; they heard His cries of pain; and they touched His body when it was taken down. Here, while the apostles were in hiding, stood Our Lady, the virginal and youngest disciple, and the reformed harlot. Over the years, I have come to realize that the pure and the sullied are called to a very special place near Our Lord. But, this crown of glory is not earned swiftly or easily. For that reason, I love the above engraving because it brings Christ down from his usual high position on the Cross, and demonstrates how His family and friends shared very personally in His anguish. And, in this same way, we must weep at the feet of Christ, have His blood on our hands, and tend to His precious and beaten Body. Because of this proximity, nothing will be clean and neat: the same onslaughts of hatred which were launched at Our Lord – will also hit us. We will be spat upon, cursed at, and, perhaps, even put to death. But, we have no other choice. As St. John of Avila stated, a life without the Cross is a restless and discontented one. His words remind me of how often and how keenly I searched in vain for the worldly elixir of joy; to always come-up empty handed. Yet, as countless images of the Saints can testify, of them loving embracing the Crucifix, they understood the meaning of a true reward.