‘The cross stands while the world revolves’. This apophthegm of the Carthusian Order has many layers of interpretation. The saying helps make sense of the suffering and sometimes death of all those early Christians for the faith.
‘The cross stands while the world revolves’. The cross stands because the cross has a permanent place in human lives. There has always been injustice, and violence against the good. Sometimes this happens with a particular intensity. In parts of the Middle East today, an unusual and widespread savagery has broken out. Human beings are capable of passionately and calmly devoting themselves to the destruction or uprooting of people who are, in reality, their brothers and sisters. That propensity for evil is part of our fallen human condition and is revealed in its full hideousness in the butchery of the cross.
The French painter Georges Henri Rouault (1871 – †13 February 1958) once said that ‘Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world’. Christ is in agony in his suffering members. That agony is not in the past and does not simply go away. It exists very much in the present and will exist in the future because ‘The cross stands while the world revolves’.
It can be extremely difficult for us to even imagine what some people have endured. It can even be painful just contemplating the fact that, humanly speaking, many people found no happy ending. Yet when many people die, they die with the words of Jesus upon their lips. The martyrs on the beach in Egypt turned to the Father, in the Lord’s own prayer. The cross stands, because the injustice it represents has a permanent place in the world. But the cross also stands in another sense, because it is God’s very own cross. It is the sign of a divine love that can never be extirpated. Whatever else may be taken away from you, there will always be someone to whom you can turn to, who would welcome you and would embrace you wholeheartedly. That is our Lord and Saviour, Christ crucified.
The crucifixion of Christ gave the impression that God had been brought to His knees vanquished. As we have seen in the past and so often witness even today, humanity and goodness appeared to have been utterly defeated. Jesus was betrayed and murdered, and yet the cross has endured. It stands firm because it is sustained by all the things that never change.
‘The cross stands while the world revolves’. The world may revolve. The latest rage and styles may come and go and public opinion rushes from one incident or massacre to another. Every so often Christianity itself seems to falls into disfavour for one reason or another. Yet the crux of the matter still hinges upon the cross, the sign of a divine love and constancy toward humanity which can never be extinguished.
In faith and in prayer, something of the stillness of the cross may be learned. It may be imitated even by those who are spared the violence of the cross, in work for peace and reconciliation and in solidarity with those who suffer. ‘The cross stands while the world revolves’.
I pray that the reader may, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, begin to understand the power of the cross. The cross of “Christ crucified,” in His Cross we find “the power of God” [1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2:5]. This may be achieved by our joining together with our family and neighbours, being there for them, helping them, reaching out. Do this out of love and for no other reason; God is the supreme Love, through love we would quickly discover the intensity and strength which drove the early Christina Martyrs to the height of sanctity. These early saints were tormented, persecuted, tortured,. They suffered in agony and faced their deaths in a horrendous manner but they did this with love for God and His Son Jesus Christ and with dignity. May St. Bruno the confessor and our Patron with St. John the Baptist, martyred Hermit supplicate on our behalf to Our Heavenly Mother, the Blessed Ever Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, that we may all become the sons and daughters of God that we ought to have been.
Fr. Ugo-Maria erem. dioc.