Jesuit Novitiate
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus

The Cross

by Nace Zupančič

In my room, I am looking at the cross, which was given to me by my grandmother. Jesus is simple, made of iron, but the cross behind is beautiful, made of mother-of-pearl, shades of silver mingling like waves. Perhaps every cross is something beautiful, of transcendent beauty …

Maybe the cross is not an evil thing. I think it helps me to deny myself. To my ego, which doesn’t want to carry it. It resists myself, my pride, my selfishness, and my control. But the condition is to deny myself.

My cross in these months of the novitiate is simply to love. To love the Lord, to love my neighbor, and to love myself. It is difficult … but is it possible to love without really denying myself? This ego of mine and the devil are in the way. I carry the cross because I want to be like Him, who emptied Himself. Who loved. Because love with itself carries the cross. But this is not an evil, it is the effect and proof of love. It is my shield and my sword – the only weapon in the battle against myself.

I receive my cross; I cannot determine it by myself. If I did so, it would once again work my will, my ego. And it would probably be heavier than it is. I want to be perfect and nothing else. I want to be my own judge, to decide myself alone what is right and what is not, where to push myself toward ‘perfection.’ But it is always far away. The Lord knows that on my own I can do nothing, sometimes even myself. He knows what is good for me, who I am called to be. Everyone has a different path, everyone has a different cross. Every cross helps to be oneself. So it can happen, in theory, that the cross I receive is easier than the one I carved. But only in theory. Because the real cross, the one received from the Father, is not abstract, not something out of the air, something not in my imagination, not a “self-help” scheme, it is concrete. Painfully concrete. It is loving the imperfect people around me, loving the imperfect me, loving the Lord, who is most perfect, and doing this every day. “What good is it, my brothers, if one says he has faith but has no works?” (Letter of James 2:26). This concreteness is the incarnation. This cross may be much heavier than the one I would choose, but I can carry it, I am strong enough. At any moment it is there, if I want it, it is made to my measure, I have no excuse not to carry it. And I know all that. I know it’s going to change me and I have to abandon myself. And I am afraid. My ego is afraid, it feels the danger. But I also have courage, because on this road He goes, it is the way of redemption and love.

“Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to come with me, let him stop thinking of himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.’ (Mark 8:34)”

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