NONPARTICIPATORY CHRISTIANITY: DENYING THE CROSS INSTEAD OF DENYING ONESELF
This past weekend a non-Catholic relative informed me that since her husband refused to have a vasectomy she was going to get "fixed". Never mind that you cannot fix something that is not broken, and that fertility is not a disease to be surgically removed--I will not digress into this realm today. We had a long discussion about artificial contraception and I ended up giving her an armload of books and pamphlets in an attempt to convince her of the evil of artificial contraception.
She stated over and over that she was happy with her two children and did not WANT more. When I spoke of the cross of Christ and how we must take it up to be His follower -she stated that she was living life "abundantly" and was "all about grace". She said we aren't supposed to make ourselves miserable here and that God wants us to be happy. Is this truly what God wants of His followers?
"...and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:38
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24
"Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Mark 8:34
"Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
"And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27
Based upon the above, Jesus Christ made it abundantly clear that what He desires from us is our entire selves. Christian joy and true happiness proceeds from our embrace of His Cross and doing His will instead of ours. Happiness that proceeds from doing our own thing is merely temporal wordly happiness.
I have heard the condemnation of Christ's Cross repeatedly by Protestants and liberal Catholics who want to banish it in favor of an empty cross. But an empty cross breeds an empty Christianity. This non-participatory view of Christianity is no less than diabolical, and fools so many into believing that they need do nothing but say a "sinners prayer" to be saved by Jesus. This same crowd condemns good works and even the "legalism" contained in the 10 commandments as a rejection of the sufficiency of Christ's Cross.
These so called followers of Christ not only refuse to look upon a crucifix, but they refuse to embrace the Cross in their own personal lives. What is the point of having a "personal relationship with Jesus" when one rejects His will. Any orthodox follower of Jesus will attest that embracing the Cross of Christ has brought them closer to Jesus.
One who takes up his cross has a more complete understanding of grace than one who seeks his own will above God's. Needless to say-- but I suppose in this day and age it needs to be said--carrying one's cross and following the will of God cannot be done without the grace of God. No Catholic who knew his faith would make such a claim.
Unfortunately, there is no Cross literally and spiritually, in the Disney-fied, non-denominational, mega-church Christianity. There is no Cross in the modern over-fed, over-entertained, over-spending modern American family. How can Christ's words penetrate a person who lives for this world? Over and over we fail to sacrifice those things which Christ asks of us--like truly committing to our spouse in good times and bad, and having another child. Instead we engage in pseudo-sacrifices by sacrificing our children and our marriages to our own selfish desires so that we can worship at the altar of career or greed.
It is certainly easy to say "I am all about grace" and "I'm not into the Cross" when one chooses the broad road, and dodges the hand of God in our lives through pills, implanted devices, and surgeries that prevent the birth of children.
"He that seeks not the Cross of Christ, seeks not the glory of Christ." St John of the Cross.
"...[T]herefore in like manner the apostle says: "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God." (Rom 12:1) This cross, therefore, in which the servant of God is not only not confounded but even glories in the words : "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal 6:14), this Cross, I say, is not merely for forty days but for the whole of this life." St Augustine, (5th cent)