Understanding the Cross in a “Way of the Cross” Society

Understanding the Cross in a “Way of the Cross” SocietyThe following excerpt is taken from a speech titled “A Way of the Cross Society,” delivered at the American TFP’s 2014 National Conference on October 25th, in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania.

And so we need a “Way of the Cross” society. But not just any way and not just any cross.


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The modern world does not understand what the cross really is. It simplifies the notion by saying the cross is just any random suffering that happens to come our way.

And so, crosses are exceptions, detours or obstacles along my path to happiness. At the very best, the cross consists of little inconveniences. And normally people can put up with little inconveniences which they mistake for crosses. The problems really start when a misfortune is prolonged and the world falls on top of people. Then, people like this rebel and complain that there is something profoundly wrong and unjust about the cross that suddenly appears to ruin their happiness.

A society based on this mentality leads people to embrace not the cross, but a culture of entitlement and resentment. They seek redress for the “injustice” of the cross that disturbs their road to happiness. They reason: “If I break my leg, I will sue the sidewalk company to compensate me for ruining my happiness.” “If I am fired from my job, I will demand corresponding benefits.”

But in an organic Christian society, it is the opposite. We understand that, because of Original Sin, we have disordered passions that once let loose, unleash a tyrannical rule upon everything. They throw everything out of balance and turn everything into a constant party.

Our cross consists of constantly reigning in these disordered passions. That is why weUnderstanding the Cross in a “Way of the Cross” Society must embrace the constant crosses of hardship, tragedy and complicated social relationships that come from the Original Sin of our first parents. In such a society, the cross is not the exception, but the norm of our lives.

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The problem is that no one escapes from the cross. One can either embrace it or run from it.

In modern society, crosses are hated obstacles on the path of happiness. In Catholic society, times of happiness are welcome rest stops on the way of the cross.

Of course, God is merciful and often allows us periods, even long periods, of happiness and rest from the cross. We might cite as an example, the mercy of God giving us sleep. Think about it, for a good portion of every single day we have a time where we can put our problems aside and rest. God gives us other mercies like chocolate shops that provide us with little pleasures amid our trials. God is good.

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But as long as we live, we have to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil. The book of Job says “The life of man upon earth is a warfare” (Job 7:1). And so the cross is found always before us. An organic Christian society has as its foundation this understanding of the cross as the rule, not the exception. And this allows us to face and deal with reality much better.

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