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The understanding of the mission Cross in the life pioneer Missionaries

Author: Saju George Aruvelil, SVD
Subject: Missionary Spirituality
Language: English, Spanish
Publisher: VivatDeus.org
Year: 2023

“If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16: 24). This basic exhortation of the Lord made a deeper impact and understanding in the life of Fr. Arnold. It is also seen precisely in the 27 retreats on the Cross he preached. We know that Arnold was praying daily the Way of the Cross. That enlightens us the reason why he had incorporated the cross in our three congregations´ logos and the foundational team accepted it.

Why Fr. Arnold had opted to entrust the cross to the missionaries who were going to foreign land? Why he did not choose another element, like the Bible, for example, in the sending ceremony? Being primary evangelizers, the Word of God has more significance and utility as well.

The mission cross was to remind the missionary how to fulfill the mission by:

  1. Preaching about Crucified Love.
  2. Meditating on it diligently.
  3. Imitating it.

Missionary life is indeed a sharing of the life of Christ Crucified by words and deeds. Fr. Arnold had to face many difficulties of his own as he confessed: God’s work requires sacrifices, and God and the souls deserve that we make them (Cf. Fischer, Life of AJ, 482). The cross is like a rose, there are thorns in it.

For Fr. Arnold the missionaries are of the Crucified Lord. Fr. Janssen highlighted several aspects of mission spirituality in his conferences to the departing missionaries before the ceremony of giving the Mission Cross and departure for the missions. Up to the Founder’s death 730 members of the Arnoldus Family received a mission cross (Vol. II: 87). It is our heart and soul.

There is no other way to be a follower of Christ and christian life with our cross. That was the fundamental understanding and realization of the Paschal mystery also in the life of Joseph Freinademetz in his mission country, namely China, and other missionaries in their places. In other words, it is the Cross and the Crucified Jesus that were giving strength and grace in the moments of the persecutions he had suffered among the Chinese. Thus, the mission cross he had received was not merely an external religious symbol for him. It was a grace filling fountain in all time, especially in the time of desolation, misunderstanding and other hardships.

Fr. Arnold had the deep intuition of the Holy Cross as the source of the blessing. It leads to salvation. Let’s pay attention that the one who is going to receive the baptism is formally received by the celebrant in the name of the community, signing the symbol of the cross in the forehead. Because in the center of the Christian life stands the cross.

Almost all parish temples and other Christian institutes always bear the cross, on the roof, in the chapels, oratories and also other places. We can also see crosses in the rooms of convents, seminaries, monasteries, retreat houses, etc. Was there a Christian institute without a cross?

Acts of the Apostles (2: 22-23) narrates that without shedding the blood there is no salvation. It is still an aspect many do not understand like those of the disciples of Jesus. The cross was God’s preordained plan to redeem all sinners. That is why we pray, thricely during the celebration of the holy Eucharist “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the World, have mercy on us”.

The actualization is needed as we progress. Adaptation of the symbols as part of the inculturation is understandable. But we can’t replace the Cross in our life and in our physical places. Perhaps one of the reasons behind our failure is due to the lack of the understanding of the (mission) cross in our life. We can do several noble deeds in the name of Church and Arnoldine charism but we can’t ignore what the cross meant for Arnold.

“We adore you and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross you redeemed the World!”

Blessed feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross!


Saju George Aruvelil, SVD
Saju George Aruvelil, SVD

Saju George Aruvelil, SVD is from India. He is one of the first OTP who has gone to Argentina. He finished his theological studies for the priesthood also there. He then began his service in the education field in our SVD institutions. He obtained a licentiate in Spirituality from Pontifical University of Comillas, Madrid. He also holds a doctorate in Theology from the Pontifical University of Argentina, Buenos Aires. He also helps in the formation of laity and religious candidates. He gives retreats and leads workshops, seminars, etc. He has a radio program and writes in a local newspaper. At present he is a promoter of Laudato Si Movement for caring for the Earth together with his parish priestly pastoral activities.

4 Responses

  1. Excelente trabajo padre, Dios te siga alimentando de su sabiduría y te colme de fortaleza para llevar adelante tu bendecida tarea con felicidad y alegría.Abrazo.

  2. Gracias padre Saju por adentrarnos en la espiritualidad de San Arnoldo. Gracias por ser instrumento del Espíritu Santo y sembrar en nosotros tantas enseñanzas.
    Que el Señor lo bendiga.

  3. Hola buen día muchas gracias por tanta enseñanza y hermosa reflexión todos los días aprendo un poquito más y nos renueva las fuerzas a los laicos que trabajamos en las comunidades
    Me quedo con lo que decia el padre Arnaldo: las obras de Dios exigen sacrificio, Dios y las almas merecen que lo hagamos!!

  4. Felicidades Padre Saju!!! Que su misión siga iluminando caminos para todas las almas del mundo!!! Bendiciones hoy y siempre!!! Y que la Santísima Virgen Maria lo siga protegiendo con su manto!!! 🌷

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