Friday, 16 March 2012

Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross

Continuiung our meditation on the Way of the Cross taken from The Way of the Cross with the Curé of Ars, written by Mgr Keith Barltrop, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

And as they led Jesus away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. Luke 23:26

Simon’s appearance on the scene is a welcome reminder that we do not make the Way of the Cross alone or as a private devotion: we are all in it together as far as sin is concerned, and the same is true for our redemption.

For the Curé of Ars this solidarity with sinners was expressed above all in the confessional, sometimes for as long as eighteen hours a day. His gift of reading people’s hearts is well-known; less so the frequent tears he shed for his penitents. When asked once why he wept so much,he replied,

"I weep because you do not weep enough."

But he went further: as he told a fellow-priest,

"I give my penitents a small penance and do the rest for them."

In addition to the ordained priesthood, Christ’s redeeming death brought into being the royal priesthood in which all lay people share. This priesthood, too, is expressed in solidarity with other sinners, out of love for Jesus Christ whose cross we desire to carry with him. The Curé was once overheard in church in the middle of the night, praying with tears for the conversion of his parish.

"How beautiful it is to offer ourselves every morning in sacrifice to God. How many souls we can convert through our prayers."
The Curé


Jesus, may the heroic example of St John-Marie Vianney inspire us to offer you gladly our prayers and sacrifices each day for the conversion of the world. May the royal priesthood in which we share become a joyful reality for us as we take some of the weight of your cross like Simon of Cyrene, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Father…

Is there one who would not weep
Whelmed in miseries so deep
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
Matrem Christi si videret,
In tanto supplicio?

Picture © John Salmon, Stations of the Cross in the parish church St Silas, Kentish Town, London
Text © St Pauls Publishing