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Msgr. Thomas Craven, who was a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was known to some of us at the Joseph House. When he died in 2004, he was buried in a handmade wooden casket. As per his wishes, a Latin phrased was inscribed on the casket lid: Ave Crux Spes Unica. In translation, “Hail the Cross, our only hope.”

How can we begin to make sense of this phrase?

Charles de Foucauld meditated frequently on the cross. In a letter to his sister, he wrote:

“Through the cross we are united to Him, who was nailed on it, our heavenly spouse. Every instant of our lives must be accepted as a favor, with all that it brings of happiness and suffering. But we must accept the cross with more gratitude than anything else. Our crosses detach us from earth and therefore draw us closer to God.”

The cross has meaning only in its relationship to Jesus. It is a mystery of faith, but to share in the cross is to share in the love of Jesus, who is our hope — for this life and the one to come.

Holy Week is a special time to consider the cross, the one that Jesus carried and the one fashioned for each one of us.