I know very little about symbolism in a Catholic Church. I know it is used widely and with good reason and there is much to learn in reflecting upon why a certain symbol is used in a certain location within a church building and not a different symbol or in a different location. Thankfully, we all have the wisdom of such people as Fr. Valenchek from the Cleveland Diocese who spends about one day a week filling us in on some of these rather common symbols found in our Faith. The subject of his post from two Fridays ago was the “Calvary Cross.”
In the post he remarked that this cross has three “steps” on which the cross stands and each of those steps is linked to one of the theological virtues of love (the base upon which it all stands), hope (that which is gained in Christ’s suffering and death), and faith (in which the cross is planted), but he also says that the three steps represent the small mount that Christ had to climb in order to reach the place of his crucifixion, and that’s when it hit me!
A common Lenten devotion practiced in most parishes throughout the world is the stations of the cross. Not having had the opportunity to attend these has left me yearning for them and thinking about them more and more over the past couple of weeks and this cross immediately brought my mind to the three times that Jesus falls on his way to die. Jesus falls the first time, he gets up and keeps moving toward his death; he falls a second time, he gets up and keeps moving toward his crucifixion; he falls a third time…AND HE GETS UP AND KEEPS MOVING TOWARD THE FINALITY OF THIS HUMILIATING, TORTUROUS EXECUTION! And for what?!
We look at the facts of this scene and we know that before Jesus even receives the cross to carry up to Calvary he has beaten and scouraged and is probably already staggeringly weak. He then receives a cross that must be strong enough to hold the weight of his body and is asked to walk up a small mountain! He knows that what awaits him there is death and yet he continually struggles, and fights, and wills himself to the top so that he can free you and me from the sin of Adam and Eve. Nothing would stop him, nothing would get in his way of completing that task. HE. WOULD. NOT. FAIL. because he loved me that much!
It is a sobering thought to be sure. Perhaps in our lives there are times when things get rough or we don’t see the point in praying or making it to adoration or to Mass on Sundays. Perhaps during this Lent we have taken the easy road of convenience and fallen off our Lenten sacrifices. Let’s not let those little failures be the end of our story. Let’s keep fighting. May God give us the strength.