The Cross and Black Coffee

Dude, I keep forgetting about ClipArt! #stockimages

I read an interesting blog post about Catholicism, suffering, and coffee from one of my favorite Catholic bloggers a long while ago. Essentially, to drink coffee black is to enjoy that which is not meant to be enjoyable. By way of analogy (and remember, analogies have limits), he parallels drinking coffee black and our worldview of suffering whereas the Church has a different view on suffering.

You can read the original blog post here:
Coffee When It Is Black by Marc Barnes, Bad Catholic

In life, sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we know we’ll suffer and thus bear a cross,. And let me tell ya, I’ve had my share of crosses to bear throughout my life thus far.

But I suppose I’m at a point in my faith where I can handle some of the crosses I bear like I am able to handle drinking black coffee. I used to be like most other people and add cream and sugar to my coffee. I’m pretty sure the workers at McDonald’s know my mantra of “one cream and one sugar” as I stop by some mornings on my way to work. Ever since reading Marc’s take on drinking black coffee and suffering, I’ve switched to drinking coffee black.

Now I’m learning to enjoy taking up my crosses. Beforehand, I think I tried sweetening my bad situations with optimism or adding creamer by distracting myself from its bitter tastes. But I never fully embraced my suffering by willingly taking up my crosses. I think I’ve always taken them kicking and screaming or tried to making it easier on myself through my own devices. Or really, just not keeping in mind of the One who helps carry my crosses. I’m pretty sure He’s a pro.

I got to thinking about all this more given some current circumstances in my life. I don’t want to give details, but I’ll just say that I know myself well enough now to foresee that I will undergo despair and suffering given my current circumstances or the circumstances that I will find myself in.

I have had my crosses in the past, I have crosses now, and I will have crosses in the future.

My take away from all this is that black coffee, as I drink it nearly every morning, is a physical reminder that I should be prepared to suffer. Life doesn’t always feel good. Suffering becomes an acquired taste. I cannot handle my crosses on my own so I look towards the One who showed us what it looks like to embrace suffering. One of the lines towards the end of the movie, The Passion of the Christ, is when one of the other thieves sentenced to crucifixion with Jesus asks Him, “why do you embrace your cross?” to which Jesus doesn’t really reply but looks upon the thief with eyes of mercy despite His unfathomable suffering from incredible stress, being scourged, having a crown of thorns hammered into His head, and now carrying and embracing the wood that will be the instrument of execution.

It boggles the mind.

Yet! My suffering is not in vain because I know that, mysteriously, God allows suffering to bring about a greater good, and in the most definitive and exemplary event how He does this through His Passion and Death. Yet, He rises, and Death’s sting has no power nor victory. We suffer on this earth in joyful hope that He will come again! O, how rich and deep!

But, in the meantime, as much as I don’t want to, I need to embrace my crosses in aspiring imitation of His embrace of His cross that one Good Friday. Because it is worth it…in the end.

No cream, no sugar. Challenge accepted.
– JD

This blog post was originally written over a year ago. And maybe I don’t keep good track of my draft blog posts. And thus I’ve edited this post since then.