Sunday, September 14, 2014

Holy Cross – September 14

What our Saviour saw from the Cross - Tissot

There is much more to this feast day than a mere commemoration of the physical relic of the Cross, glorious though it may be. We can never forget, amidst the trappings of religion that often encumber and conceal it, that the Cross was endured for us, and it is also meant for us, those of us who follow Jesus. What does the world look like to us? Are we standing with our feet on the ground, looking up and adoring the crucified Lord? Or is our flesh nailed down to the Cross for love of Him, with whom we look upon a world that, lost in its own sin and suffering, gazes upon us, uncomprehending?

In Paradise of old, the tree stripped me bare, for by the eating thereof, the enemy brought in death. But now, the most holy tree of the Cross that doth clothe all men with the garment of life hath been set up on earth, and all of the world is filled with most boundless joy. Seeing it exalted, ye people, now, let us the faithful all cry out with one accord to God in faith: Thy house is full of glory, O Lord.
— Elevation of the Holy Cross - Sessional Hymn of the Canon

Here follow some gleanings on the Cross from earlier posts on
Cost of Discipleship.

Discipleship means the Cross
The knowledge of the Cross
is concealed in the sufferings of the Cross.

The Cross is the door to mysteries. Through this door the intellect makes entrance in to the knowledge of heavenly mysteries. The knowledge of the Cross is concealed in the sufferings of the Cross. And the more our participation in its sufferings, the greater the perception we gain through the Cross. For, as the Apostle says, "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."

God does not create a cross for man. No matter how heavy a cross a man may carry in life, it is still just wood, from which man himself was made, and it always grows from the soil of his heart.

The way of God from the beginning of time and from the creation of the human race has been the way of the cross and death. How did you get your idea that everything is just the opposite? You must realize that you are outside the way of God, that you are far from Him, that you do not wish to walk in the steps of the Saints, but want to make some special way for yourself and travel by it without sufferings. The way of God is a daily cross. No one has climbed to heaven by living a life of pleasure.

Christians often assume that to ‘take up our cross’ means simply to carry a burden. When we run into a life trouble, we will say things like ‘oh, this is just my cross to bear.’ We basically shrug it off, totally missing the significance of the cross.

Ever consider that the cross is not meant to be a burden?

It is meant to cause death.
The cross is meant to kill us!
It is an instrument of death!
Oh that wonderful cross!

Christianity can be many things to many people, but unless it is first and foremost the cross, it can devolve into ritual, culture, or magic. Not that everyone will have the same cross to bear and to die on, not that what it looks like or feels like will be the same for all, not that those who follow Christ to Calvary will all understand what is happening to them the same way, but nonetheless the cross awaits us all, at least all of us who seek to follow Jesus.

Why, then, do you fear to take up the Cross, which is the road to the Kingdom? In the Cross is salvation; in the Cross is life; in the Cross is protection against our enemies; in the Cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the Cross is strength of mind; in the Cross is joy of spirit; in the Cross is excellence of virtue; in the Cross is perfection of holiness. There is no salvation of soul, nor hope of eternal life, save in the Cross. Take up the Cross, therefore, and follow Jesus. Christ has gone before you, bearing His Cross; He died for you on the Cross, that you also may bear your cross, and desire to die on the cross with Him. For if you die with Him, you will also live with Him. And if you share His sufferings, you will also share His glory. See how in the Cross all things consist, and in dying on it all things depend. There is no other way to life and to true inner peace, than the way of the Cross, and of daily self-denial. Go where you will, seek what you will; you will find no higher way above nor safer way below than the road of the Holy Cross.
— Thomas à Kempis,
The Imitation of Christ, Book 2, Chapter 12

                       Cross, do not fail me
                       when it comes my hour
                       to bleed. As to a strong-masted vessel,
                       let me be bound to you to share your power.
                       Hug me close as the wind we together wrestle.

                       Lost, let them nail me                       
                       as my ransomed soul
                       a steed of spirit mounts and my hungers hang.
                       Let me inherit what the jailer stole
                       and hidden, as I thirst, what prophets sang.
— Romanós

You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand judging it too severely. This day Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to His easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-conceit, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; He leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if He carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.

Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble.

The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will before you fall asleep this night, that waking with tomorrow's sun, you may go forth to the day's cross with the holy and submissive spirit which bec
omes a follower of the Crucified.             
— Charles Spurgeon, man of God (1834-92)

Take up the cross, and follow Me.
Mark 10:21

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