Updated: Aug 5
Not in flowers and gold, not in silver and precious stones is found the value of the Cross, but in the wounds of the Lord and His Most Pure Blood shed for us. Therefore, when we see the Holy Cross, look not at its adornments, but look at the drops of blood sanctifying it; think of the tears dampening it for two thousand years, and remember our fathers who kissed it with such faith and reverence!
Archimandrite Ioanichie (Balan)
If the word “cross” means suffering, then to suffer means to take up your cross and follow after Christ (cf. Mk. 8:34) your entire life, on the path of virtues and repentance; it means to sacrifice yourself for the sake of your children, for the sake of the salvation of those who are in danger, for the sake of correcting the fallen; it means to endure unjust offenses from our brothers, it means to be co-crucified with Christ—on the same hill, on the same cross, and for the same ideal.
Sacrifice yourself. Endure unjust offenses.
As for the meaning of suffering in the life of Christians, it is immeasurably great. None can be saved without difficulty, without tears, without suffering. None can see Christ if he will not follow after Him, if He will not touch His wounds, if he will not bear His Cross. This is the meaning of suffering. Without it there is no salvation. As closely as the human soul is connected with the body, so is suffering with human life. Separate the soul from the body and the man dies; separate suffering, that is, sorrow, from the life of a Christian, and this believer will increasingly drift away from Christ, from salvation. This is the meaning of suffering!
And if someone says, “If Christ suffered for us once, why should we suffer in this life?” Yes, we must suffer together with Him! He suffered for our sins, but did not remove from us the gift of suffering!
For suffering is a cross, it’s a gift, it’s redemption, it’s a place of testing, it’s a mercy which the Lord offers to every human soul.
And if this life is a vale of tears, then suffering is a ladder, more reliably leading people out of this miserable abyss. Jesus Christ suffered for us, but He calls us, saying, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Mk. 8:34). He endured much for us, but exhorts us to the same patience, saying, In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (Jn.16:33). He laid down His soul for us, but exhorts us to the same sacrifice, saying, Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel's, the same shall save it (Mk. 8:35).
Thus, if the Pastor suffered, then His sheep must suffer. If our Bridegroom offered Himself as a sacrifice, then we who are called to the marriage must offer ourselves in sacrifice. If Christ died for our salvation, then we will give our whole lives for His love.
Love is expressed by love. Suffering is repaid with suffering.
Such is the cross of life, and such is the path of the cross. Whoever avoids the path of the cross, whoever wants to reach Paradise without suffering, without sorrow, the same is a thief and a robber, and God will give him his lot with thieves. Let us remain with Christ. Wherever He is, there we will be, as the great Paul exhorts us, saying, Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).
+ Glory to God for All Things +
PHOTO: Holy Friday. The death of Christ. Fresco from High Decani Monastery, Serbia. 14th C.