Lenten Reading

In Christianity, Lent on March 31, 2009 at 3:46 pm

The Cross.  

“It . . . makes us no longer compatible with all passages and all openings,” writes Paul Claudel in A Poet Before the Cross.  Ah!  Our lives must change.  There are consequences of calling ourselves Christians.  Christ said to us, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). 

Take up our crosses daily.  Why do you suppose, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this notion of bearing our crosses comes just before the glorious experience Peter, James, and John had with our Lord?  Witnesses to the Transfiguration!  God’s own voice from the cloud declaring, “This is my beloved Son; hear Him.”  This was a mountaintop spiritual experience—a time of joy and wonder!

Yet “it came to pass, on the next day, when they were come down from the hill” the lives of the disciples took a turn for the worse.  A man with a demon-possessed child approaches Christ and says, “I begged your disciples to cast it out but they could not” (Luke 9:37).  On the next day, when we return from a mountaintop experience, we find ourselves inadequate for the challenges of daily life.  On the next day, we are powerless to help those we want to assist; those we feel called to help.

But Claudel continues:  “Who knows [however] whether the Cross is not a bridge cut in advance to the exact measurement of that fissure we shall have to cross, just broad enough to pass from one bank to another?”  Now we see!  The Cross is not a burden. It is our salvation: a glorious bridge cut by our Savior to transverse the crevasse of sin between us and Him.  We were never adequate—not to save ourselves, not to help others, without Christ; without the Cross!

[The two quotations are a tiny part of Paul Claudel’s wonderful book, A Poet Before the Cross (Wallace Fowlie, translator. Published by Henry Regnery, Chicago, 1958).  The book is out of print.  Occasionally copies can be found by searching here.]

  1. […] of our Lord. Many time have I cited his book, A Poet Before the Cross, over the past six years. See Lenten Reading, Say What You Mean, The Reality of It All, No Forced Faith, Lent is Approaching, and Entering Holy […]

  2. […] on March 28, 2010 at 3:23 am In previous posts, I’ve mentioned Paul Claudel’s, A Poet Before the Cross.  For Holy Week 2010, I’m revisiting Claudel’s wonderful book as part of my Lenten […]

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