Anne is one of our 2021-2022 interns and is on placement with an MP. Here, she shares a reflection on how her time in the Holy Land offered her a new perspective on what it means to ‘carry your cross’.
I arrived in the Holy Land a week before Holy Week. I came with many things in my mind and heart, and I knew that I wanted to make a conscious effort to pray there. However, at the beginning of our trip there was a moment in Mass where we were invited to thank God for our crosses. There’s a saying that you tend to hear amongst Catholic circles: ‘God will never give you a cross that you cannot handle’. Some people find this helpful, but for some it can be painful to hear. We don’t know the weight of the cross that each one of us is carrying and the level of acceptance it takes to carry it. It’s a personal journey and I really struggled with this. But listening to the homily was a great opportunity to go deeper in my prayer.
During our time in the Holy Land we visited different sites in Jerusalem where Jesus carried his cross. There are 14 stations of the cross, and it never occurred to me how long it took for Jesus to arrive at each station. In reality, the distance Jesus would have travelled from one place to another to reach Calvary was huge. Reflecting on this, I think each station of the cross reflects a chapter of our lives. In each chapter of our lives the way we carry our cross differs and changes over time.
I think each station of the cross reflects a chapter of our lives. In each chapter of our lives the way we carry our cross differs and changes over time.
We had a chance to visit the Garden of Gethsemane towards the end of the trip. This really had an impact on my prayer journey. As we arrived at the Church of All Nations in Gethsemane there was an image of Jesus in the agony garden praying. In this scene there was an image of an angel above Jesus, holding his cross. This offered me an answer to my prayer struggle. At first, I thought this depiction was an interpretation of the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane by the artist. However, when I came back from the Holy Land and heard the passage about Jesus in the agony garden during Holy Week, I realised that during Jesus’s painful moments God sent angels to help him carry his cross. This detail taken directly from the Bible was something I had missed before! Perhaps the reason why I couldn’t thank God for my crosses was because I failed to recognise the angels that God had sent me during the most painful moments in my life. Only when I received this grace to recognise, could I really thank him for my crosses in a sincere way.
The Holy Land trip has been a huge blessing, it has helped me to grow in my prayer life and spiritual journey and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to write about my experiences and share my faith. This internship has deepened my faith in so many ways and for that I am very grateful.