THE ROYAL ROAD OF THE HOLY CROSS
TO MANY the saying, "Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow
Me," seems hard, but it will be much harder to hear that final
word: "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." Those
who hear the word of the cross and follow it willingly now, need not
fear that they will hear of eternal damnation on the day of judgment.
This sign of the cross will be in the heavens when the Lord comes to
judge. Then all the servants of the cross, who during life made
themselves one with the Crucified, will draw near with great trust to
Christ, the judge.
Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it you
can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in
the cross is protection from 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 highest virtue, in the cross is perfect
holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life
but in the cross.
Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, and you shall
enter eternal life. He Himself opened the way before you in carrying
His cross, and upon it He died for you, that you, too, might take up
your cross and long to die upon it. If you die with Him, you shall
also live with Him, and if you share His suffering, you shall also
share His glory.
Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on the
cross everything depends. There is no other way to life and to true
inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily mortification.
Go where you will, seek what you will, you will not find a higher way,
nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way of the holy cross.
Arrange and order everything to suit your will and judgment, and still
you will find that some suffering must always be borne, willingly or
unwillingly, and thus you will always find the cross.
Either you will experience bodily pain or you will undergo
tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by
God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will
often grow weary of yourself. You cannot escape, you cannot be
relieved by any remedy or comfort but must bear with it as long as God
wills. For He wishes you to learn to bear trial without consolation,
to submit yourself wholly to Him that you may become more humble
through suffering. No one understands the passion of Christ so
thoroughly or heartily as the man whose lot it is to suffer the like
The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you
everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for
wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find
yourself. Turn where you will -- above, below, without, or within --
you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have
patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.
If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to
the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but
here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden
for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it.
If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a
heavier one. Do you expect to escape what no mortal man can ever
avoid? Which of the saints was without a cross or trial on this earth?
Not even Jesus Christ, our Lord, Whose every hour on earth knew the
pain of His passion. "It behooveth Christ to suffer, and to rise again
from the dead, . . . and so enter into his glory." How is it that
you look for another way than this, the royal way of the holy cross?
The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and do
you seek rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself, you
are mistaken if you seek anything but to suffer, for this mortal life
is full of miseries and marked with crosses on all sides. Indeed, the
more spiritual progress a person makes, so much heavier will he
frequently find the cross, because as his love increases, the pain of
his exile also increases.
Yet such a man, though afflicted in many ways, is not without
hope of consolation, because he knows that great reward is coming to
him for bearing his cross. And when he carries it willingly, every
pang of tribulation is changed into hope of solace from God. Besides,
the more the flesh is distressed by affliction, so much the more is
the spirit strengthened by inward grace. Not infrequently a man is so
strengthened by his love of trials and hardship in his desire to
conform to the cross of Christ, that he does not wish to be without
sorrow or pain, since he believes he will be the more acceptable to
God if he is able to endure more and more grievous things for His
It is the grace of Christ, and not the virtue of man, which can
and does bring it about that through fervor of spirit frail flesh
learns to love and to gain what it naturally hates and shuns.
To carry the cross, to love the cross, to chastise the body and
bring it to subjection, to flee honors, to endure contempt gladly, to
despise self and wish to be despised, to suffer any adversity and
loss, to desire no prosperous days on earth -- this is not man's way.
If you rely upon yourself, you can do none of these things, but if you
trust in the Lord, strength will be given you from heaven and the
world and the flesh will be made subject to your word. You will not
even fear your enemy, the devil, if you are armed with faith and
signed with the cross of Christ.
Set yourself, then, like a good and faithful servant of Christ,
to bear bravely the cross of your Lord, Who out of love was crucified
for you. Be ready to suffer many adversities and many kinds of trouble
in this miserable life, for troublesome and miserable life will always
be, no matter where you are; and so you will find it wherever you may
hide. Thus it must be; and there is no way to evade the trials and
sorrows of life but to bear them.
Drink the chalice of the Lord with affection it you wish to be
His friend and to have part with Him. Leave consolation to God; let
Him do as most pleases Him. On your part, be ready to bear sufferings
and consider them the greatest consolation, for even though you alone
were to undergo them all, the sufferings of this life are not worthy
to be compared with the glory to come.
When you shall have come to the point where suffering is sweet
and acceptable for the sake of Christ, then consider yourself
fortunate, for you have found paradise on earth. But as long as
suffering irks you and you seek to escape, so long will you be
unfortunate, and the tribulation you seek to evade will follow you
everywhere. If you put your mind to the things you ought to consider,
that is, to suffering and death, you would soon be in a better state
and would find peace.
Although you were taken to the third heaven with Paul, you were
not thereby insured against suffering. Jesus said: "I will show him
how great things he must suffer for My name's sake." To suffer,
then, remains your lot, if you mean to love Jesus and serve Him
If you were but worthy to suffer something for the name of
Jesus, what great glory would be in store for you, what great joy to
all the saints of God, what great edification to those about you! For
all men praise patience though there are few who wish to practice it.
With good reason, then, ought you to be willing to suffer a
little for Christ since many suffer much more for the world.
Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more a man dies to
himself, the more he begins to live unto God.
No man is fit to enjoy heaven unless he has resigned himself to
suffer hardship for Christ. Nothing is more acceptable to God, nothing
more helpful for you on this earth than to suffer willingly for
Christ. If you had to make a choice, you ought to wish rather to
suffer for Christ than to enjoy many consolations, for thus you would
be more like Christ and more like all the saints. Our merit and
progress consist not in many pleasures and comforts but rather in
enduring great afflictions and sufferings.
If, indeed, there were anything better or more useful for man's
salvation than suffering, Christ would have shown it by word and
example. But He clearly exhorts the disciples who follow Him and all
who wish to follow Him to carry the cross, saying: "If any man will
come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and
When, therefore, we have read and searched all that has been
written, let this be the final conclusion -- that through much
suffering we must enter into the kingdom of God.
Of the royal way of the Holy Cross
That seemeth a hard saying to many, If any man
will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his Cross and
follow Me.(1) But it will be much harder to hear that last sentence,
Depart from me, ye wicked, into eternal fire.(2) For they who now
willingly hear the word of the Cross and follow it, shall not then
fear the hearing of eternal damnation. This sign of the Cross shall
be in heaven when the Lord cometh to Judgment. Then all servants of
the Cross, who in life have conformed themselves to the Crucified,
shall draw nigh unto Christ the Judge with great boldness.
2. Why fearest thou then to take up the cross
which leadeth to a kingdom? In the Cross is health, in the Cross is
life, in the Cross is protection from enemies, in the Cross is
heavenly sweetness, in the Cross strength of mind, in the Cross joy of
the spirit, in the Cross the height of virtue, in the Cross perfection
of holiness. There is no health of the soul, no hope of eternal life,
save in the Cross. Take up therefore, thy cross and follow Jesus and
thou shalt go into eternal life. He went before thee bearing His
Cross and died for thee upon the Cross, that thou also mayest bear thy
cross and mayest love to be crucified upon it. For if thou be dead
with Him, thou shalt also live with Him, and if thou be a partaker of
His sufferings thou shalt be also of His glory.
3. Behold everything dependeth upon the Cross,
and everything lieth in dying; and there is none other way unto life
and to true inward peace, except the way of the Holy Cross and of
daily mortification. Go where thou wilt, seek whatsoever thou wilt,
and thou shalt find no higher way above nor safer way below, than the
way of the Holy Cross. Dispose and order all things according to
thine own will and judgment, and thou shalt ever find something to
suffer either willingly or unwillingly, and thus thou shalt ever find
thy cross. For thou shalt either feel pain of body, or tribulation of
spirit within thy soul.
4. Sometimes thou wilt be forsaken of God,
sometimes thou wilt be tried by thy neighbour, and which is more, thou
wilt often be wearisome to thyself. And still thou canst not be
delivered nor eased by any remedy or consolation, but must bear so
long as God will. For God will have thee learn to suffer tribulation
without consolation, and to submit thyself fully to it, and by
tribulation be made more humble. No man understandeth the Passion of
Christ in his heart so well as he who hath had somewhat of the like
suffering himself. The Cross therefore is always ready, and every
where waiteth for thee. Thou canst not flee from it whithersoever
thou hurriest, for whithersoever thou comest, thou bearest thyself
with thee, and shalt ever find thyself. Turn thee above, turn thee
below, turn thee without, turn thee within, and in them all thou shalt
find the Cross; and needful is it that thou everywhere possess
patience if thou wilt have internal peace and gain the everlasting
5. If thou willingly bear the Cross, it will bear
thee, and will bring thee to the end which thou seekest, even where
there shall be the end of suffering; though it shall not be here. If
thou bear it unwillingly, thou makest a burden for thyself and greatly
increaseth thy load, and yet thou must bear it. If thou cast away one
cross, without doubt thou shalt find another and perchance a heavier.
6. Thinketh thou to escape what no mortal hath
been able to avoid? Which of the saints in the world hath been
without the cross and tribulation? For not even Jesus Christ our Lord
was one hour without the anguish of His Passion, so long as He lived.
It behooved, He said, Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and
so enter into his glory.(3) And how dost thou seek another way than
this royal way, which is the way of the Holy Cross?
7. The whole life of Christ was a cross and
martyrdom, and dost thou seek for thyself rest and joy? Thou art
wrong, thou art wrong, if thou seekest aught but to suffer
tribulations, for this whole mortal life is full of miseries, and set
round with crosses. And the higher a man hath advanced in the spirit,
the heavier crosses he will often find, because the sorrow of his
banishment increaseth with the strength of his love.
8. But yet the man who is thus in so many wise
afflicted, is not without refreshment of consolation, because he
feeleth abundant fruit to be growing within him out of the bearing of
his cross. For whilst he willingly submitteth himself to it, every
burden of tribulation is turned into an assurance of divine comfort,
and the more the flesh is wasted by affliction, the more is the spirit
strengthened mightily by inward grace. And ofttimes so greatly is he
comforted by the desire for tribulation and adversity, through love of
conformity to the Cross of Christ, that he would not be without sorrow
and tribulation; for he believeth that he shall be the more acceptable
to God, the more and the heavier burdens he is able to bear for His
sake. This is not the virtue of man, but the grace of Christ which
hath such power and energy in the weak flesh, that what it naturally
hateth and fleeth from, this it draweth to and loveth through fervour
9. It is not in the nature of man to bear the
cross, to love the cross, to keep under the body and to bring it into
subjection, to fly from honours, to bear reproaches meekly, to despise
self and desire to be despised, to bear all adversities and losses,
and to desire no prosperity in this world. If thou lookest to
thyself, thou wilt of thyself be able to do none of this; but if thou
trustest in the Lord, endurance shall be given thee from heaven, and
the world and the flesh shall be made subject to thy command. Yea,
thou shalt not even fear thine adversary the devil, if thou be armed
with faith and signed with the Cross of Christ.
10. Set thyself, therefore, like a good and
faithful servant of Christ, to the manful bearing of the Cross of thy
Lord, who out of love was crucified for thee. Prepare thyself for the
bearing many adversities and manifold troubles in this wretched life;
because so it shall be with thee wheresoever thou art, and so in very
deed thou shalt find it, wherever thou hide thyself. This it must be;
and there is no means of escaping from tribulation and sorrow, except
to bear them patiently. Drink thou lovingly thy Lord's cup if thou
desirest to be His friend and to have thy lot with Him. Leave
consolations to God, let Him do as seemeth best to Him concerning
them. But do thou set thyself to endure tribulations, and reckon them
the best consolations; for the sufferings of this present time are not
worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,(4)
nor would they be even if thou wert to endure them all.
11. When thou hast come to this, that tribulation
is sweet and pleasant to thee for Christ's sake, then reckon that it
is well with thee, because thou hast found paradise on earth. So long
as it is hard to thee to suffer and thou desirest to escape, so long
it will not be well with thee, and tribulations will follow thee
12. If thou settest thyself to that thou oughtest,
namely, to suffer and to die, it shall soon go better with thee, and
thou shalt find peace. Though thou shouldest be caught up with Paul
unto the third heaven,(5) thou art not on that account secure from
suffering evil. I will show him, saith Jesus, what great things he
must suffer for My Name's sake.(6) It remaineth, therefore, to thee
to suffer, if thou wilt love Jesus and serve Him continually.
13. Oh that thou wert worthy to suffer something
for the name of Jesus, how great glory should await thee, what
rejoicing among all the saints of God, what bright example also to thy
neighbour! For all men commend patience, although few be willing to
practise it. Thou oughtest surely to suffer a little for Christ when
many suffer heavier things for the world.
14. Know thou of a surety that thou oughtest to
lead the life of a dying man. And the more a man dieth to himself,
the more he beginneth to live towards God. None is fit for the
understanding of heavenly things, unless he hath submitted himself to
bearing adversities for Christ. Nothing more acceptable to God,
nothing more healthful for thyself in this world, than to suffer
willingly for Christ. And if it were thine to choose, thou oughtest
rather to wish to suffer adversities for Christ, than to be refreshed
with manifold consolations, for thou wouldest be more like Christ and
more conformed to all saints. For our worthiness and growth in grace
lieth not in many delights and consolations, but rather in bearing
many troubles and adversities.
15. If indeed there had been anything better and
more profitable to the health of men than to suffer, Christ would
surely have shown it by word and example. For both the disciples who
followed Him, and all who desire to follow Him, He plainly exhorteth
to bear their cross, and saith, If any man will come after Me, let him
deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me.(7) So now that we
have thoroughly read and studied all things, let us hear the
conclusion of the whole matter. We must through much tribulation
enter into the kingdom of God.(8)