Dominican Devotion to the Cross

August 25, 2011

In Medieval art and within the Dominican tradition, there is a strong devotion to the cross of Jesus Christ. This is because, as St. Paul tells us, “we are reconciled to God by the death of His Son”, and so we are confident to “enter into the Holies” of the heavenly places “through the blood of Christ” (Rm 5:10, Heb 10:19). Once Dominican friars contemplate the grace that Christ made visible on the cross, we can then share that grace with others in our preaching.
Br. Patrick Mary Briscoe O.P., a recently professed Dominican friar, explains his closer devotion to the cross of Jesus Christ after meditating on the short prayer of St. Thomas, Crux mihi:
“It seems to me that today many Christians avoid devotion to the Crucified Christ. Prior to my novitiate year, I was one of them. I was only able to experience the Passion of our Lord as a macabre or sinister event, which could only be encountered in a very general way. I now treasure the following prayer of Saint Thomas because my entire paradigm of the way I know Jesus Christ has changed. It is very direct:
Crux mihi certa salus The Cross is my sure salvation.
Crux est quam semper adoro The Cross I ever adore.
Crux Domini mecum The Cross of the Lord is with me.
Crux mihi refugium The Cross is my refuge.
Br. Patrick Mary continues, “The cross is not simply a sign of goodwill… it is a gift given out of love. I treasure and love the cross because…it is the way that I may enter into the life of the Holy Trinity. It is only by loving the Crucified Christ that I will find His joy, and that my life may be fulfilled in Him.”
In John’s Gospel, Christ tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Christ was such a man, and “if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake.” – St. Thomas Aquinas
May the cross that exemplifies every virtue be the model of every Christian, whose hope and promise is union with God, and whose method is union with the cross of Jesus Christ.

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