This world is our ship — so says St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Life is like a ship, not just because it’s meant to carry us towards our destination, but because it throws us around. We get tossed about like sailors in a storm. Daily life eats us up one trial at a time, chews us to a pulp, and spits us out — and then somehow we’re expected to keep going. Life is hard. We have little to no idea what each day will bring. There can be so much uncertainty, so much fear. We are already unbalanced enough as it is, since we come into this world sick and wounded by original sin. We are inclined — and very strongly so — to think, speak, and act in an excessive and disordered manner. On top of that, we have the devil and the world with all of their enticements plaguing us. They play upon our passions and emotions, stirring up those festering wounds. Yes, life is hectic, sometimes even chaotic. We live in a day and age where excesses and extremes are rampant. They're everywhere around us. It’s a sign of our times.
And what about us? Well, we are children of our times. If we claim to be exempt from these wounds and tendencies, if we think we are some sort of superhuman who can remain perfectly calm and balanced in the midst of a world plunging headlong into the extreme, we are fooling ourselves. It’s a lie. If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit we are much like the rest of them. We are unbalanced and afraid. We often find ourselves worrying and anxious. Ours is the age of insecurity, and yes…we are insecure.
We might be insecure about our relationships and friendships, insecure towards those we love — always holding back a little bit of ourself, never making a complete act of trust in the love and fidelity of the other. Perhaps we are insecure regarding our physical appearance, always wondering what others are thinking of us, always afraid that they might laugh at us because of something amiss in our face, in our smile, in our speech. Or, this insecurity and fear could be about our future, asking ourselves questions such as, ‘What terrible tragedy lurks around the next corner in my life?’, ‘Will I be ready for it?’, or ‘How can I possibly handle a whole lifetime of suffering and pain?!’ Yes, we are children of our times…and our times suffer terribly from excesses of fear, of imbalance, of anxiety, of insecurity.
If we want to know where to turn in such a dire state, our answer is the Cross. Yes, the Cross…Calvary…the Mass. The Carthusians have a saying: stat crux dum volvitur orbis. It means the cross stands while the world turns around. The image is this: the world spins madly about like a planet thrown off its course, plunging into the realm of uncertainty and darkness..but the Cross stands still. It is immovable. It is secure. The Cross stands as a pillar ever firm, ever strong. It is a source of unshaken security in a world that has none.
But why is this? Why the Cross? Well, the Cross is the most beautiful manifestation of something unchanging, something permanent, something eternal. And that something is the Love of God — the Love of God for us. God loves us with a Love that is infinite and unchanging…a love that is unconditional. God doesn’t love in the way that humans love. God’s Love for us is not founded upon our good qualities or our good looks, nor upon what He one day hopes we will be. God’s Love is unconditional. It has no strings attached. It doesn’t say, “I love you because you are virtuous”, or “I will continue to love you if you cooperate with my grace”, or “I love you because one day you might finally be holy.” No! Again, God’s Love has no strings attached. It’s unconditional. It always has been, and always will be. It says, “I love you because you are my creature; I love you just because you are” — and that never changes. God’s Love isn’t founded upon the goods that we have. Rather, God’s Love gave us those very gifts. This doesn’t mean we should give up our pursuit of virtue. God does want us to grow in virtue and become saints, and He is giving us grace to achieve that end. But we must know that, whatever comes — literally whatever…whether hell or high water…whether a constant rejection of His grace or a temporary fall into sin…whether a deterioration of our physical appearance or a psychological and emotional crisis — whatever comes, if we turn to the unchanging Cross, if we throw ourselves upon the infinite merciful Love of God, all will be fine. We will find anew the mercy and forgiveness of our God, and all will be fine. We will move ever onward, with a greater trust and confidence in His unconditional Love, radiating around us a deep sense of security and peace. For, even in the midst of our dark and depraved world, surrounded by the crowds immersed in depression and despair, the Cross stands. God’s unconditional and unchanging Love is still there — for the Cross stands secure…and ever will. Deo gratias.