Ronald Rolheiser, a Roman Catholic priest and member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.
He is a community-builder, lecturer and writer. His books are popular throughout the English-speaking world and his weekly column is carried by more than seventy newspapers worldwide.
THE CROSS AS REVEALING THE TRUE COST OF LOVE
Simply put, the cross says: “If you want real love beyond romantic daydreams, if you want to keep any commitment you have ever made in marriage, parenting, friendship, or religious vocation, you can do so only if you are willing to sweat blood and die to yourself at times. There is no other route. Love costs. What you see when you look at the cross of Jesus is what committed love asks of us.”
This is not something our culture is keen to hear. Today we have many strengths but sweating blood and dying to self in order to remain faithful within our commitments is not something at which we are very good. We find it very difficult to make choices and then to do the hard things that need to be done in order to stick with those choices.
Our problem is not ill-will or ill-intention. We want the right things, but every choice is a renunciation, and we would love to have what we have without excluding some other things.
We want to be saints, but we don't want to miss out on any sensation that sinners experience. We want fidelity in our marriages, but we want to flirt with every attractive person who comes round; we want to be good parents, but we don't want to make the sacrifice this demands, especially in terms of our careers; we want deep roots, but we don't want to forego the intoxication that comes with new stimulus; we want stable friendship, but we don't want duties or obligations that tie us down. In short, we want love, but not at the cost of “obedience unto death.”
And yet that is the message of the cross. Love costs, costs everything. To love beyond romantic daydreams means to “sweat blood” and “to be obedient unto death”. The cross invites us to look at the choices we made in love, see how they narrow our options, and, in that pain, say: “Not my will, but yours, be done.”