Presenter Information

Robert P. Maloney C.M.


This article explores essential New Testament texts about the cross, its meaning in Vincentian tradition, and problems in reflecting about the cross. The cross is the symbol of God’s love for humanity as well as his power, as evidenced in the resurrection and Jesus’s victory over sin. Moreover, Jesus’s choice to die as an outcast is part of his focus on the marginalized during his life. Sometimes the cross refers to actual suffering that believers must undergo, but is more often used metaphorically to refer to what people must do to follow Jesus. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac encouraged the contemplation of the cross as a symbol of God’s love and saw service to the poor as identifying with the cross in that sense. Their nuanced views on suffering, asceticism, and mortification are explained. Examples of beneficial ascetical practices are given. The theological problem of God’s relationship to suffering is discussed. Texts are offered for Vincentians and Daughters of Charity to use in meditation, and the forms the cross takes in the lives of both are listed. Finally, readers are urged to respond to suffering in the world because it is a reflection of the crucified Christ.