Around my neck, I wear a Cross on a chain. It isn’t externally visible – no-one at all can see it and neither do they so much as know it is there, because I keep it under my shirt. But I know it is there. And it terrifies me. That might seem like a strange thing to say, I know.
It’s a heavy Cross, made from solid silver – though, I am certain, of no weight at all in comparison to the one upon which it based. But I can feel that weight all day – in fact, that was precisely the reason I purchased this particular Cross, just so that I would be constantly aware of it.
And it is an empty Cross, with no corpus of Christ upon it – because that place, on this occasion, is left for me to fill in my own way.
But I said it terrifies me. Here is why.
For me this Cross is not merely jewellery. It is not an adornment. It is a very private and silent declaration of something in which I believe passionately – of Someone in whom I believe passionately. Because of this, it places a responsibility upon me, one which I need to try to live out to the very best of my ability, day after day after day.
And that is the thing.
When I look at this Cross, when I feel it in my hand – I find myself reaching for it almost subconsciously, at various points of the day – I am reminded all too clearly of how I drop it and push it away from me, of how I fail repeatedly to carry it as it needs to be carried. Because the reality is just that – a Cross, to be worth anything and to mean anything, needs to be carried, not worn.
What a heavy responsibility.
He went out, bearing His own Cross
I suppose, then, that the inherent message carried by this Cross is the very same as that of Christ in the Gospels – and that, I think, is the whole point of wearing it in the first place. This is precisely what it is intended to recall to mind and what it is intended to say to us.
Christ is very clear in the Gospel about the Cross and the reality of it in the lives of each and every one of us who wants to follow Him – we must take up our own cross and carry them, following His example.
It sounds very simple – easy, almost. Just words on a page. Words we listen to at Mass in Holy Week. And then forget. I certainly forget them – I forget the reality they describe and which they call me to. I forget over and over.
And that is exactly why I wear this Cross – so that I remember.