At the Foot of the Cross

Whenever I come across images of a crucifix, I’m enamored by the ones placed in such a way that the viewer’s perspective looks upward towards Jesus. If one were to close their eyes, recalling the accounts in the gospels, one can enter through Mary’s perspective as she sat at the foot of the cross watching her beloved Jesus pass his earthly life, offering himself as ransom for our sins.

“Leave it at the foot of the cross.” I’ve come across that saying in a few instances, once in the context of leaving sin at the confessional after receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. This means leaving the weight of anger, fear, and sadness that comes with sin and walking anew in God’s forgiveness and grace. It’s been a spiritual practice that’s been very important to me and a constant reminder that only Christ can carry our burden.

As we continue to navigate life in a time of pandemic, social unrest, and climate crisis, I feel a strong desire to be at the foot of the cross, gazing up at Christ.

A few years back, I had the opportunity to serve as a missionary in Kenya, working in an orphanage alongside the Missionaries of Charity, a female religious community founded by St. Teresa of Calcutta. I remember a sister encouraging me to always keep my focus on Christ and the cross, as I worked. The moment we begin to take our sight off Christ and the cross is the moment we begin to lose focus in our lives. Distractions. Preoccupations. Whatever you want to call them, there is an evident disruption one will experience when Christ and the cross are no longer the focus.

With nonstop news coverage, constant social media updates, and the latest controversies from political and religious leaders, there are many outlets competing for our attention. Where do we find ourselves amidst all this noise and chaos? Are our souls at rest? Venerable Fulton Sheen once said:

“There can be no world peace unless there is soul peace. A man who is not at peace with himself will not be at peace with his brother.”

At the foot of the cross, we will find our peace. At the foot of the cross, we can fix our gaze on the one who is the source of our peace. As our world continues to endure heartache and hardships, both at home and abroad, let’s sit at the foot of the cross more intentionally. At the foot, we sit with our mother Mary who shares in our sufferings, as well. In a world of chaos, we can find the focus and peace that we need today.

Patrick Laorden is an Associate Director of Ministry Services for the School Sisters of Notre Dame and a theological consultant for the Laudato Si’ Movement.