We cling to someone when afraid. In my younger days, I would cling to the arms of my parents when threatened. Or, I would ask permission to sleep with them when I had a bad dream. Somehow, having someone to hold allays my fears.
I began to hold on to anything sacred when I started to assert my independence. At the onset of high school, the desire to find out what’s in store for me in the world had outweighed the comfort of home.
I remember my first travel alone. I took the bus to Sorsogon, and then hop on a boat to the island of Masbate for the Science Fair and Quiz of the Bicol Region in 1982. I was scared, but during the whole bus and boat ride, I had in my hands a wooden rosary. That brought me great comfort.
The wooden holding cross pictured above still gives the same comfort now that I am 52 years old. The feeling of being protected and safe has stayed on at various times of threat, fear, and worry. And holding on to this cross (including the rosary) reminds me of Who stays and Who protects.
So when do I use the holding cross?
1. After a bad dream, or when I am scared of a presence in my room.
Have you ever had this experience? There are times when, not seeing anyone, I feel that something or someone is there closer to my bed, and I can’t move. I usually fight the whole thing off, until I am able to. And when I have warded it off, I would take the wooden cross and hold on to it tightly. That way I get to sleep peacefully. Remember that evil spirits scare you, while good spirits give you peace.
2. When traveling alone to a new place, especially at night.
I never know what might befall me, so the fear of uncertainty gets the better of me. I hear Jesus saying, “O, you of little faith!” So, I would reach into the right side pocket of my jacket for my cross. And trust that I will arrive at my destination safe and sound.
3. When my future is threatened by uncertainty.
When I received the letter from the parish priest of UP Diliman in 2008, informing me that I wouldn’t be assigned there anymore, I held on the cross that night because I did not know where God would send me next.
4. When I have to face the consequences of my audacity, actions and decisions, I hold on the cross to appease my anxiety.
For example, I didn’t do well in an exam, and I am bothered by regrets, I hold on the cross. Until I get my test scores back, I wouldn’t know how to best respond to failure.
5. When helpless and exhausted from worrying about my family’s or friends’ situations, I hold on the cross to remind me to let God take care of them when I can’t.
6. Today, on Good Friday, I kissed my holding cross.
Good Friday services have been suspended, and the veneration of the cross that marks the liturgy has been discouraged to curtail the spread of the virus. I didn’t want to just let the veneration go; so I brought the holding cross with me, because why not?