Sunday, September 29, 2013

HOW TO BEAR PRACTICALLY YOUR CROSS - By H.H. Pope Shenouda III





The cross is a sign of love, bestowal, sacrifice, and redemption, which you carry each time you are tired in view of the practice of these virtues.

1. Try to get tired for the rest of another 

For his deliverance and his service; and be confident that God does never forget the fatigue of charity, "and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor" (1 Cor. 3:8).... Train yourself to give: whatever you bestow and support and sacrifice..... and train yourself to give from your necessities, as the blessed widow had done (Luke 21:4)........ Get tired in your service, because it is as much as you get tired, so much your love will appear, and therefore your sacrifice.

2. The Cross is also a sign of sufferings and endurance 

The sufferings which the Lord endured for us, whether the sufferings of the body, of which He said: "They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones" (Ps. 22: 16-17) ....... or the sufferings of shame which He joyfully endured for us, that is He was rejoicing for our salvation.
Therefore the apostle said about Him: "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame" (Heb: 12:2). How great is the endurance when it is joyfully done. That is a lesson for us. While you suffer a cross, if you endure the tribulation of the cross for the Lord, or if you encounter persecution because of your justice, or if you are hit with disease or weakness for that...... likewise if you endure the wearisome deeds of people without taking revenge for yourself, but rather you turn the other cheek, and you walk the second mile, and do not resist an evil person (Matt. 5:39), but rather you act with patience, ... and patience is a cross, ... whether your endurance is within the circle of the family, or in the field of service, or in relation to your work.

3. You will bear a cross, if you crucify the flesh with its passions  (Gal. 5:24)  

You make efforts to crucify a craving or a guilty desire, and you conquer yourself. You crucify your thoughts each time they want to make you wandering. Likewise you restrain your senses, you bridle your tongue, you constrain yourself, and forbid your body to take food, enduring hunger, keeping away from every appetising food, and from every corporal pleasure and from the love of money.

4. You bear your cross in your self-denial, by taking the last place
 
By not seeking dignity, by your giving up your rights, by not taking your reward on earth, by preferring others to yourself in everything with love that "does not seek its own" (1 Cor. 13:5), by humility and renouncement, and by keeping away from praise and dignity.

5. You bear your cross by bearing the sins of others, because our Lord the Christ has done so.

There is no objection that you would bear the guilt of another one and be punished for that instead of him; or that you bear the responsibilities of another one, and to carry them on instead of him. And as saint Paul said to Philemon about Onesimus: "But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. I, Paul, an writing with my own hand, I will repay" (Philemon 18-19)...... As much as you can, participate in the sufferings of others, and carry them in their place. Be a cyrenian bearing the cross of another.

H.H. Pope Shenouda III



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