The Carrying of the Cross


September 4, 2013 by mattfradd


The Rosary,” wrote Blessed Pope John Paul II, “precisely because it starts with Mary’s own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning.”

Pope Paul VI wrote that “without [this contemplation,] the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation is in danger of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas and of going counter to the warning of Christ: ‘And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words’ (Mt 6:7).’”

Because of this, it is vital that Christians familiarize themselves with the Scriptures in order to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ.

Below is the fourth sorrowful mystery. To see other mysteries, click here.

The Carrying of the Cross (Matthew 27:31-34)

Having been arrested, scourged, and crowned with thorns, Christ is now stripped of the purple robe the soldiers used to mock him and is dressed once more with his own clothes. The soldiers then lead him out to be crucified, “bearing his own cross.” (Jn 19:17). St. Matthew tells us that as they were making their way to the place where Christ was to be crucified “they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross” (Mt 27:32). It is reasonable to assume that, due to the brutal scourging Christ endured, Jesus was physically unable to carry the cross any longer.


In Genesis 22 we read of God commanding Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, to the land of Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice on one of the mountains there. We read that Abraham “took the wood…and laid it on Isaac his son” (Gen 22:6). Even as they neared the place of sacrifice, Abraham trusted in God, telling Isaac, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Gen 22:8). Right before Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was commanded by God not to do it. Abraham offers a ram in Isaac’s place.

This story prefigures the carrying of the cross and the sacrifice of the only Son of God.

The heavenly Father asked his only son, the “Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29), to carry the wood of the cross upon his back. Through this sacrifice Jesus has “reconcile[d] to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20).

Personal Application

This mystery reminds Christians that suffering is part of life and that if we want to be a disciple of Jesus, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Christ (Lk 9:23).

9 thoughts on “The Carrying of the Cross

  1. […] Pope Paul VI wrote that “without [this contemplation,] the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation is in …read more […]

  2. Wieslawa Pavlo says:

    Hi Matt, I like your explanation in this article. Another question I have is why Catholic Church removed the second commandment about graven image??? I heard your audio on this subject but the answer is not enough for me. What right has any church to remove the original version of an Old Testament?
    The original version says in the second commandment that; “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…” and in Catholic version the second commandment says; “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain”
    Don’t you think that this example shows a lack of validity of document? The church can’t omit so important statement to get rid of the problem.

    • mattfradd says:

      Thanks Wieslawa,

      You’re mistaken. The Catholic Church did not remove the line, “[y]ou shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 20:4). It’s always been there and always will.

      If you are referring to how Catholic lay out the ten commandments, then you need to understand that while the commandments are said to be “ten” in Exodus 34:28, they are not numbered by the inspired authors of Sacred Scripture.

      In fact If you count the “you shall nots” along with the two positive commandments of keeping holy the Sabbath and honoring father and mother, you end up with 13 commandments.

      So the actual numbering of the commandments depends upon which “you shall nots” you lump together as one commandment and which ones you separate. And in the end, which “you shall nots” you lump together depends upon your theology.

      If your argument is against the Catholic use of statuary; if you’re saying that Exodus 20:4 condemns the use of statues, then you run into a problem because in other verses we clearly see God either commanding or praising the making of images and statues(Exodus 25:18; Numbers 21:8-9; I Kings 6:23-28, 9:3). In fact, just five chapters after this so-called prohibition against statues, for example, God commands Moses to make statues representing two angels to be placed over the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant:

      And you shall make two cherubim of gold… The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another…. And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark… There I will meet with you (Ex. 25:18-22).

      So here’s a question for you. If it’s intrinsically evil to create statues of beings in heaven, why is it that God commanded and/or praised it in these verses?

      I’m really looking forward to your response to that question.

      For more please read here:

  3. Eric says:

    Why did God command Moses to make the ark? Secondly, where does God command your church to make images of those you believe are in heaven?

    Moses had a direct command from God for this. . Your church does not.have a direct command from God to do this. That’s the problem.

    • mattfradd says:

      Thanks, Eric. Good to hear from you.

      Why did God command moses to make the ark?

      A number of reasons. It was a place in which the tablets of the law, Aarons rod, and the manna could be contained. It was the place from which God would communicate to his people. Ex 25:22 states: “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”

      If you would like to learn more about the arc I would encourage you to read all of Exodus 25.

      If your second point is meant to be an argument against the use of religious statuary. It’s terrible.

      You appear reason as follows:

      1. It was okay that the Israel built religious statuary because God commanded it.
      2. God did not command the Church to build religious statuary
      3. Therefore it’s not okay for the Church to build religious statuary.

      Listen, just because something is not explicitly commanded in the New Testament, does not mean that it’s forbidden! That would be like saying, because the New Testament does not command circumcision, it is therefore a sin. Or, because the New Testament does not command that we accept Genesis as inspired it’s sinful to believe it to be so.

      Please understand that the entire Bible is the word of God, not just the New Testament.

      Keep an open mind Eric, continue to study God’s word, and continue to pray.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Eic says:

        Here is what Exodus 20:4 says– “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.”

        Roman Catholics believe Mary is in heaven and yet they make images and statutes of her. How is this not breaking the commandment?

  4. mithriluna says:

    Thank you for these beautiful meditations on the Rosary. Though I am a faithful Catholic, I never really prayed the Rosary regularly until this past summer when a family member announced that she was leaving her husband for another woman. Suddenly I saw the many seemingly hopeless situations in the lives of loved ones and in the world and feeling that the world we live is a dark place. I realized then that prayer especially through Our Lady was the only thing I could cling to for hope.

  5. Elizabeth Leaños says:

    This Saturday evening, Father Christian talked about carrying our crosses. Everyone has crosses to bare. No two people carry the same ones. Sometimes, I feel that my crosses are nothing compared to the ones I see others carry. I thank God for my crosses because I know I could n’t carry other people’s crosses. I cry every time I go to Mass because I am not worthy enough to receive Communion! You see, I was never married in the Catholic Church. I have tried to convince my husband ( we were married civilly by a justice of the peace) to marry me. So you see, this is my cross to carry! I feel like I am starving, staring into a restaurant filled with food and unable to partake! I am extremely heartbroken because I have been captive for 20 years! I offer my pain and suffering to God.

    • mattfradd says:


      listen to me. I think I can help.

      As you now know, If a Catholic is married outside the Catholic Church without a dispensation then the marriage must be convalidated.

      The convalidation process is really quite simple. It involves a new exchange of vows and can be done simply and privately. You would just need to contact your parish priest.

      What if your partner is unwilling?

      The marriage can be convalidated by a radical sanation.

      A radical sanation (which means ‘healing at the root’) is a decree issued by the diocesan bishop stating that he accepts the original consent of the marriage as valid. As I said, your partner does NOT need to consent or even know about this.

      In the meantime, if possible, get to confession, cease the marital act, and you will be able to receive the Eucharist.

      Obviously I don’t know the in’s and out’s of your particular circumstance, but I hope this gives you some home. Please contact your local priest or diocese

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