Staring at the Crucifix, I cannot help but notice that there is an empty space on each side, as if for another person. I remember when I first entered the novitiate it was customary to set a small crucifix on top of your bed after making it every morning.
One time, I got really sick and had to lie down after breakfast. A sister kindly accompanied me to our common bedroom to help me out. As she was getting the bed ready, she said, “Jesus, it’s Your time to rest; make room for her because being in bed is her biggest cross. So it is now her turn.” (I really did hate being in bed!) As she set the crucifix aside, I looked at her and said, “Please don’t tell Him to leave me alone in the cross. There is an empty side just for me; we can share it. We become one through the cross. As Saint Paul said, ‘I want to complete in my flesh what is lacking in His passion.’”
I don’t know where that thought came from. At that, we both just looked at each other and smiled. The sister helped me get in bed and then left. As time went on, we would remind each other of that day, and whenever we would make our beds, we would kiss both sides of the crucifix, hoping to become worthy of sharing the cross with Jesus. It became our thing. A few years later, I heard a priest say in a homily, “There is no life without crosses, and there are no crosses without Christ.” And it reminded me of that day in the novitiate’s dorm.
Now, whenever the burden seems overwhelming and the cross too heavy to carry, these thoughts come back to my mind. It is comforting to know that we are not alone; Jesus is there with us and for us. Even though the pain (moral, spiritual, or physical) does not necessarily go away, it is through the cross that we unite ourselves to Him. In whatever state of life He has called us to, we belong to Him, and He is our ultimate end. And If the cross still feels too painful, we can remember that at the foot of the cross was Mary, the Mother of Jesus—and our Mother.