“O for some corner, the least, the lowest, and the last in the world to come [Heaven], where we may spend an untired eternity in giving silent thanks to Jesus Crucified!” (F.W. Faber)
“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
That crucifix in your home is of immense spiritual value. Father Grou, a great spiritual writer, goes as far as to say the crucifix is the “answer to everything”! Everything as in everything!
Grou says: “Let the crucifix… be our chief spiritual book. Let it be a book not only for our eyes only but for our hearts! Let us beg of Jesus to teach us how to read in it, and to reveal to us all its secrets, not only that we may contemplate them in the sweetness of prayer, but that we may practice them faithfully during the whole course of our life.”
Grou tells us that “the crucifix is the greatest proof that God…could give us of His love , and it is the strongest motive He could employ to gain our hearts in return. Every virtue is included in the crucifix, and it is the consummation of the way of perfection.”
“The crucifix is the abridgment of all that a Christian ought to practice. All the morality of the Gospel consists in bearing our cross, in renouncing ourselves, in crucifying our flesh…and in sacrificing ourselves to the will of God….” The crucifix is “the most striking and living expression of the whole teaching of the Gospel.”
Even in Heaven, says Father Grou, we will never fully comprehend “the greatness of this benefit which faith places before our eyes when we look at our crucifix.” God “could not possibly …given us a greater proof of His love.” Such a “way of salvation could only have been conceived in the heart of a God who loved us infinitely.”
Grou says: “[Let us take our part] in the sufferings and humiliations” of Jesus, asking our Savior to “plant His cross deep in [our] hearts.” Jesus on “the cross will be an answer to everything,” and we will “leave His presence with the desire to suffer more.” Grou asks: looking at the crucifix “shall we argue with God about trifles?” Shall we complain about “what virtue costs us?” Jesus crucified, says Grou, will give us the courage and strength to bear our crosses, and our weaknesses, even to the point of living out the Gospel with a greater patience and charity towards our neighbors (especially the ones who cause us the most difficulties!).
Are you looking for a profitable Lenten exercise? Pull up a chair in front of your crucifix. Look at it, study it, let the crucifix be your chief spiritual book as you converse with Jesus crucified in deep prayer, and then place it in your heart, and let it do its work of sacrificial love in all the trials and tribulations of your life.
“He who desires to go on advancing from virtue to virtue, from grace to grace, should meditate continually on the Passion of Jesus…There is no practice more profitable for the entire sanctification of the soul than frequent meditation on the suffering of Christ” (Saint Bonaventure).
Thomas L. Mulcahy
Ref. This is a highly edited and condensed note from an essay by Father Grou, entitled, “On the Crucifix,” from his great work, A Manual For Interior Souls, and although in places he is sometimes talking to souls seeking perfection, it should be remembered that all baptized Christians are called to this lofty state, and I certainly consider his comments applicable to all Catholics in a state of sanctifying grace, wherever they may be on their spiritual journey. The essay itself is much longer (much more detailed) than this condensed and edited note.
P.S. A number of years ago I went out and looked for and bought a crucifix that I found particularly moving to my own sensibilities. That decision has paid many dividends for me.
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Thanks for this reminder Tom