|The vision of the Cross appeared to Constantine in the sky on the eve of a battle, with the words, “In this sign thou shalt conquer,” a prophecy that was to prove true the next day when Constantine was victorious at Pons Milvius.|
For the one who closes his eyes to the central fact of Our Lord's life — that He is our Redeemer and desired to endure the cruelest sufferings in order to redeem us — would have misunderstood His mission.
Even at the very apex of His Passion, Our Lord could have put an end to all those pains instantly by a mere act of His Divine will. From the very first moment of His Passion to the very last, Our Savior could have ordered His wounds to heal, His precious blood to stop pouring forth, and the effects of the blows on His Divine body to disappear without a scar. Finally, He could have given Himself a brilliant and jubilant victory, abruptly halting the persecution that was dragging Him to death.
But Our Lord Jesus Christ willed none of this. On the contrary, He willed to allow Himself to be led up the Via Dolorosa to the height of Golgotha: He willed to see His most holy Mother engulfed in the depths of sorrow. And, finally, He willed to cry out those piercing words "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46), which will echo down through the ages until the consummation of the world.
In considering these realities, we come to understand a profound truth. By granting each of us the grace to be called to suffer a portion of His Passion with Him, He made clear the unequaled role of the Cross in the lives of men, in the history of the world, and in His glorification. Let us not think that by inviting us to suffer the pains and sorrows of the present life, He thereby wished to dispense each of us from pronouncing our own "consummatum est" at the hour of our death.
If we do not understand the role of the Cross, if we do not love the Cross, if we do not live our own Via Crucis, we will not fulfill Providence's design for us. And at our death, we will not be able to make ours the sublime exclamation of St. Paul: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up to me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day." (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
Any quality, however exalted, will avail nothing unless it is founded on love of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. With this love we can obtain all, even if we find heavy the holy burden of purity and other virtues, the unceasing attacks and mockeries of the enemies of the Faith, and the betrayals of false friends.
The great foundation, indeed the greatest foundation, of Christian civilization is that each and every person cultivates a generous love for the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May Mary help us to accomplish this. Then we shall have reconquered for her Divine Son the reign of God that today flickers so faintly in the hearts of men.