Carrying Your Cross or Your Cross Carrying You?

   Turn, rather, to these teachings, my very dear friend: take up your cross and follow the Lord. For, when I noticed that you were being slowed down in your divine purpose by your preoccupation with domestic cares, I felt that you were being carried and dragged along by your cross rather than that you were carry it.

   What else does the cross mean than the mortality of this flesh? This is our very own cross which the Lord commands us to carry that we may be as well armed as possible in following him. We suffer momentarily until death is swallowed up in victory. Then this cross itself will be crucified

   The cross will be nailed to the fear of God. We would hardly be able to carry it now if it forever resisted us with free and unfettered limbs. There is no other way for you to follow the Lord except by carrying it, for how can you follow him if you are not his?

From the Letters of St. Augustine

God is Not Afraid of Sin

   Pope Francis has encouraged people to encounter God's mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a reminder that the tender forgiveness of God is greater than the "ugliest" sin. "God is not afraid of our sins, he is greater than our sins," the pope said in his general audience on January 19.

   "God always forgives: put this in your head and hear. God always forgives, even the ugliest things," he said in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

   Speaking about God's tenderness and mercy, Pope Francis said the "things of God always reach us through the mediation of human experiences."  "Tenderness is the best way to touch what is fragile in us. Look how nurses touch the wounds of the sick: with tenderness, so as not to hurt them more. And so the Lord touches our wounds with the same tenderness," he said.

   "This is why it is important to encounter God's mercy, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in personal prayer with God, having an experience of truth and tenderness." The pope said that God's tenderness is greater than the logic of the world" and can be "an unexpected way of doing justice." "Without this 'revolution of tenderness'...we risk remaining imprisoned in a justice that does not allow us to get up easily and that confuses redemption with punishment," he said.

   At the end of his live-streamed audience, the pope's thoughts turned to those who are in prison today. "For this reason today, I want to remember in a special way our brothers and sisters who are in prison today" he said. "It is right that those who have made a mistake pay for their mistake, but it is equally right that those who have made a mistake can redeem themselves from their mistake."

   "There can be no condemnations with windows of hope...Let us think of our brothers and sisters in prison, and we think of God's tenderness for them and we pay for them, so that they may find in that window of hope a way out towards a better life"

   This was Pope Francis' eighth audience in a cycle of catechesis on St. Joseph that he launched in November 2021.

   The pope dedicated this week's general audience to a reflection on the saint as "a father of tenderness." As a part of this theme, he reflected on a Bible verse from the Book of Hosea (11:3-4): "He taught him to walk, taking him by the hand; he was for him like a father who raises an infant to his checks, bending down to him and feeding him."

   "It's beautiful, this description from the Bible that shows God's relationship with the people of Israel. And it is the same relationship we believe St. Joseph had with Jesus," he said. 

   Pope Francis offered the following prayer to St. Joseph at the end of the audience: