Jesus said: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Dear Lord, my Jesus, let me hear Your meaning. What is it to deny myself? What is it to take up my Cross and follow? I will put the ear of my heart to Your Lips. I will wait and listen. . . .
Life and Death are at war within me. I live on the brink of despair. You know this. Your Cross is Life; it is not sadness and limitation. Your Cross is victory over death. Your Cross is Life. And yet, I choose death. I choose to spin a fabricated self, a web of futile concerns and anxieties. I do not trust your Cross. I fear its implications. I run from its freedom! I save myself. . . .
The self that You, dear Lord, have asked me to deny . . . does it even exist, based as it is on a lie? What lie? The lie of a self that believes it can exist apart from God. But I cannot breathe one breath without You. This You have told me. . . .
Make in me a readiness for change. Make me supple in Your Hands, dear Lord. Cover me in Holy Ash. Hide me from myself. I have grown weary living by my own lights (which is no life at all!). Light, now, the innermost flame no sin has ever touched. Press upon a melted heart Your Holy Pattern. . . .
Now, in these days leading up to Your Crucifixion, help me lay bare to You my soul. By Your Grace let me see clearly my own sin and shortcomings. But let me look upon my own wretchedness as a mother looks upon her newborn child. And bless me that I may take on the suffering of those around me, identifying with their pain, transforming all suffering in the depths of my being where You ceaselessly utter me, my Name. . . .
Dear Lord Christ, bless us, that we may see Our Selves through Your Eyes. “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtani”
— A St. Paul’s Parishioner