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We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection: through him we are saved and made free.[1]

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross. This feast is a celebration of God’s greatest work: Christ’s salvific death on the Cross and His Resurrection, through which death was defeated and the gates to Heaven were opened. The cross is the universal image of Christian belief. Today is a time to ponder what Christ accomplished through His horrific Passion. Look upon the wounds of Christ, gaze into His eyes. See the love that He has for you; His willingness to suffer and die so that you may gain eternal life.

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Jesus calls us to follow him by taking up our cross daily. In marriage, your spouse is your cross. Some of you may be snickering in agreement with this statement but this cross is your path to sanctification. As Christ was wounded and died on the cross, marriage binds two wounded individuals in a lifelong covenant. The wounds of your spouse are holy ground. We are called to unite our woundedness and suffering to those of Christ on the cross.

Your job in marriage is to bring Jesus’ healing touch to your spouse’s wounds. Through you, Jesus can touch these wounds and bring healing. In doing so, you will strengthen your marriage. In Matthew 10:5-18, Jesus sends his 12 disciples out on mission to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Mt 10:8). You are called to this same mission, not only in the world, but also in your marriage and family. There is no loftier task.

To illustrate this concept, consider a rural mountain community of 13,000 ethnic Croats located off the southwest coast of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They have learned this secret to a successful, lifelong marriage. Throughout the centuries of war and famine, of cultural and political strife, not one single divorce has been recorded amongst the inhabitants of Siroki Brijeg.

The residents of this town believe that the crucifix is the greatest symbol of the love God has for His children. While preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage, the couple chooses a cross together, one that will soon occupy an honored place in their new home. During the premarital meetings with the priest, the couple is told they have found their cross – not their partner – and this cross is to be loved, to be carried, not to be thrown away, but to be cherished.

Wedding CrucifixOn their wedding day, the cross is carried during the processional to the church, and then given to the priest for a special blessing to protect the marriage. As they recite their vows, the bride and groom place their right hands upon the cross, pledging to always be faithful. When the time traditionally comes for the groom to kiss his bride, the priest instead invites the couple to kiss the crucifix, the source of love.

By placing the cross at the center of their marriage, the couple whole heartedly believes that abandoning each other is the same as abandoning their love for Jesus. Throughout the long years and the ups and downs of marriage, the crucifix offers a constant source of comfort. It becomes the focal point of family prayer, for the young couple believes deeply that the family is born of the Cross. When a trouble arises, or if a conflict breaks out, it is before this cross that they will seek help. They get on their knees in front of Jesus; they weep their tears and pour out their hearts, and above all exchange their forgiveness.[2]

Embrace your cross and cherish it. It is the path to holiness and joy in your marriage.

May the Lord bless you and your spouse with abundant love for each other, as you outdo each other in love, keeping Christ at the center of your marriage.

[1] Entrance Antiphon for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

[2] The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, The Only Divorce-Free City in the World, internet: https://www.tfp.org/the-only-divorce-free-city-in-the-world/ (accessed September 14, 2020).