Jesus Takes Up The Cross

The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Is Forced to Help Jesus Carry the Cross

March 24, 2020

By Sister Lisa Mary McCartney

Have you ever thanked a friend for sharing her suffering and pain with you? Recently, a woman in dire emotional and physical pain questioned why I carried her—what did she ever give me, essentially, and what good was she to me, or to anyone? Anxiously, I tried to affirm her, referring to her intelligence, insight, honesty, resiliency, generosity, sense of responsibility and humor.

Only later did I realized I had not touched on the greatest gift she has given to me, one that has come with the black cloud that has hung over her longer than the 20 years we have known each other. Our friendship, no doubt, began the day she walked into my office and asked, “How do you forgive?” She has tested my beliefs, my ideas, my prejudices, my articulation, my patience, my comfort. In sum, she has challenged my very self to be real and to be wary of those quick spiritual and theological responses.

Surely, each of us has befriended such a person(s) in the midst of our service and ministry. Often, they see themselves as outsiders or marginalized. My friend once observed: Sisters and priests ought to hang out more with people like me. I agree. Such people have a way of opening us up to the real stuff of God’s mercy. Through involvement in their anguish, can’t we say that we have been seized, laid hold of, pressed into service, made to bear another’s cross? Thus, Simon of Cyrene lives through, with and in us.

How is it that we are made to carry another person’s cross? Most assuredly, it occurs in the times when all else fails, and we face our limits head-on, be they personal or social—counseling, healthcare, social services. When our only recourse is God alone and we can do nothing else but pray, and pray in its simplest form: Jesus, I trust You for her, I entrust her to You.

The painful needs of such friends propel us into a prayer of the heart in all its authenticity, as it did whenever Catherine heeded the advice, “Trust in God alone.” Our one sure comfort is to know that our friend becomes a sacred offering, handed into God’s loving embrace. In trusting that someone, we can let go of the endless causes for worry, enabling our service and ministry to breathe in new life. Taking up another’s cross inevitably leads us to intercessory prayer—real, simple and heartfelt.

How often do we utter prayers of intercession? Just think, we often formally do that two or three times a day. How often do we vicariously sense the pain and anguish of the recipients of our words of petitions? How often have we thought to thank a friend for teaching us how to pray…by carrying a cross, be it hers or his or ours?

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  1. Sister Natalie Rossi

    Thanks. Beautiful thoughts to bring to prayer and reflection.


  2. Dale Jarvis

    Thanks Lisa Mary, I am forwarding on to others who will also be inspired by your words


  3. Marianne Sheehan

    Trusting in God alone is one of my greatest challenges when truth is so misinterpreted by those entrusted to lead and protect us against sickness and death. I am comforted at this reminder. Thank you!


  4. Doris Gottemoeller, RSM

    Very deep insights, indeed! Thanks for challenging me.


  5. Daria

    Right now, God may be the only one we can trust! God bless america!
    God bless our planet. Thanks for your words of wisdom. Keep them coming.


  6. Eileen O'Connor

    Beautiful, Lisa Mary. Thank you so much for your loving insights. Eileen O’C


  7. Sarah Halter

    Thank you….this makes so much sense to me as I have been wandering in a spiritual darkness for several months and my only conclusion has been that I don’t trust God or anyone else but I must to be alive again and living in light. I have been praying a lot to learn to trust God…..please help me with intercessory prayer.


  8. Jeanne Christensen, RSM

    As a caregiver for a longtime friend with Alzheimer’s, your reflection gives me comfort and is a reminder of her gift to me. Thank you…


  9. Meg Quinlan, RSM

    Thank you for this insight Lisa Mary. It’s good to be reminded that ministry is a two-way street. Prayer helps me when nothing else can.


  10. Diane Marie O'Donnell

    Thank you Mary Lisa for your words, they inspire me to move forward and to further develop my trust in God, which has waivered over the past several years. I am unemployed right now, and looking for my purpose. What I realize now is that if I quiet myself and pay attention, God will lead me to where he wants me to be. The lesson for me right now is to trust God, listen to him, be patience, and wait for the answer, because it will come in his time, not mine.


  11. Michele Schroeck

    Lisa, Thanks for sharing your insights on Simon!


  12. Jane Schur

    Thank you, Lisa Mary. You just hit the nail on the head for me with a friend I have had most of my life who would give anything right now to be able to be at home. How I wish I could make that possible for her but it is complicated by more than the present corona virus so your insight into carrying the cross with her and lifting it in prayer are the most I can do right now and I am grateful for your likening it to Simon of Cyrene! You have lifted my cross!!!