I have been told on several occasions by different priests to spend time prayerfully reflecting on the wounds of Jesus’s corpus hung upon the cross.
One’s eyes gaze at the Lord’s head where the wounds are from the crown of thorns, then the eyes go to his hands where the nails were violently placed, then to his side where the lance was pierced “and at once blood and water flowed out” (Jn 19:33), and so on.
Rarely, do I actually pay attention to that which our Lord hangs upon: the actual cross. Today, gives all of us this opportunity.
Only twice a year–Good Friday’s Veneration of the Cross and today, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross–does the Church calendar specifically focus our gaze to “behold the wood of the cross.”
At some point today, I invite you to either pull out the Rosary from your pocket, drive to your local Catholic church, go to a room in your house where there is a crucifix or cross, or close your eyes and imagine our Lord’s wooden cross.
What do you think of when gazing upon this ancient Christian symbol?
I think of three things: mercy, suffering and love.
Mercy: The cross is the sign of mercy itself. There is no more merciful action imaginable than Jesus laying down his life for humanity.
Suffering: Jesus suffered unimaginably on the cross for each one of us. The cross also reveals to us that he suffers with us and takes care of us in our own sufferings. There is nothing that our Lord hasn’t suffered. He knows our suffering and carries us through them. Our sufferings actually bring us closer to Jesus. This should motivate us to not worry about suffering.
Love: Jesus was innocent. He was not the guilty one. However, he humbled himself to the point of death. He loved us so much. He wanted to give us everything he could, even himself. This is love, and love always takes humility. Love puts the good of another (or others) before oneself or one’s own importance.
We can see these things when we look at the cross, but if we don’t live them, we will never grow closer to understanding the mystery of those two pieces of wood our Lord and Savior hung upon.
How do we live mercy, suffering, and love?
Struggling with pornography hinders us from living lives of mercy, suffering, and love. How can we breakthrough and come to know these better? By living the life Jesus exampled for us himself in these.
How to Live a Life of Mercy
Jesus laid down his life for us. We can lay down our passions and addictions at the foot of the cross for Jesus. Lay them there and let them go.
Ask Jesus to help you to have mercy on the vulnerable and marginalized human beings who have been used and exploited by the pornography industry and to stop objectifying them. Learn more about how pornography fuels the sex trafficking industry.
How to Live a Life of Suffering
Jesus has suffered. He feels your suffering now. By suffering, we share in his Passion. Addiction and habitual sexual sin causes huge suffering for you, your spouse, and your family. While sin separates us from God, suffering can bring us closer to him.
Spend time today with Jesus, let him hold you in your suffering and grief. Give this suffering to him. It’s time. You will always have suffering in your life, but keep moving through it and onward all the way to heaven.
Further, you can ask a friend to accompany you on this particular season of suffering and overcoming pornography consumption. Put Covenant Eyes on your phone, computer and all other devices, and ask him or her to be your Accountability Partner. This will give you a companion who can fast and pray for you as you take on the sufferings of life.
How to Live a Life of Love
Love is being humble and putting others before your own passions and desires. Humility includes admitting you are wrong about something, including thinking that pornography and masturbation are good for you. Pornography is addictive. Masturbation takes the sexual act out of context and turns a selfless and life-giving act inward where it no longer is what God created sex to be. Further, when you view pornography you might even be looking at a sex slave. This isn’t love.
God made you for true and authentic love! Run to love and if you’ve never heard it before, I pray you will read this today and always remember: your past sins do not define you. God is love. You were made for love.