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How Do You Separate the Cradle and the Cross?


Zoe CC

Judy Landrieu Klein - published on 03/24/16

A mother prayerfully reflects on her child's addiction

They can move the Feast of the Annunciation from Good Friday, but they can’t separate the cradle from the cross. Not if one is a parent.

When you’re a mother, in particular, there will be painful, laborous birthing for the rest of your life — birthing new life, birthing necessary deaths, helping give birth to every awaited resurrection.

“You’ve got to follow that baby around and catch her before she falls. She’s going to hurt herself,” my sister said recently about my 10-month-old grandchild, Rose. Walking everywhere with no common sense whatsoever, Rosie is an accident waiting to happen. We must be getting old, I thought, to begin to imagine that we could spare her life’s bumps and bruises. Because it goes without saying that children need to be able to fall and get back up in order to learn to walk freely.

And then there’s Mary on the Via Dolorosa, watching Jesus fall repeatedly under the weight of the cross. The piercings prophesied practically beside Jesus’ humble manger must have jabbed hard on the sorrowful path, and the most blessed mother of all couldn’t blunt the sword’s sharp tip or cushion the pain of collapse. Watching from a distance as the weight of the world lay on his shoulders, surely Mary ached viscerally as she co-carried the burden borne by the fruit of her womb.

But this suffering was necessary for resurrection to come, and the painful climb up the hill would, indeed, eventually lead to life.

They were never meant to be separated, the cradle and the cross: birth pangs, the hard push forward, the death of the old order, new life. It’s a cycle of death and glory, of which Christ spoke the paradox true. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, but whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it to eternal life” (John 12:23-25).

I watch now as my own beloved son falls under the weight of a crushing cross, suffering through the crucible of a previously arrested addiction that is reasserting its grip on him. I mingle my tears with Mary’s and beg God that this travail, too, will bring new birth and a resurrection as I join the sacrifice of my rent heart to Christ’s own.

“Do for him what he can’t do for himself, Lord,” I pray constantly. “Let the power of your death and resurrection call him back to life.” And then I wait another hour, another day, for him to choose life for himself.

Everything in me wants to break his fall; a mama’s heart is always inclined to save a hurting child. But to stand in the way of his footsteps to Calvary is to stand in the way of deliverance.

I pray that I — and every hurting parent — can assume Mary’s graced posture along the dolorous way; with feet on the ground, eyes fixed on God, and a whispered prayer of surrendered trust ascending from heart and lips.

Yes, the cradle and the cross are inexorably connected, and it is providential that this year’s sacred remembrances of March 25 tell us so. I prefer to keep them where they are this season — the annunciation and the crucifixion converging — trusting that both fonts of life are freely offered to all, inviting us to say yes.

Judy Landrieu Klein is an author, theologian, inspirational speaker, widow and newlywed whose book, Miracle Man, was an Amazon Kindle best-seller in Catholicism. This article was originally published at her blog, “Holy Hope,” which can be found at

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