Living the Cross Practically

As Lent begins, the focus of this season should be on the cross. We should be thinking about how we can practically carry our cross to a world that is in dire need of Jesus' love.  

HOW TO BEAR YOUR CROSS PRACTICALLY By HH. Pope Shenouda III

‎1. 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.‎ Try to get tired for the rest of another, and 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)...Tire yourself in your ‎service, because the more you tire, the more your love will appear, and therefore the ‎greater your sacrifice will be.‎ ‎

2. The Cross is also a sign of sufferings and endurance:‎ In the midst of 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" (Psalm 22:16-17), or the sufferings of shame which He joyfully ‎endured for us—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. Such patience is a Cross, whether your endurance is within the circle of the ‎family, 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).‎ Each time you attempt to overcome a craving or a guilty desire, you are ‎bearing a cross. You also crucify your thoughts each time you control them from ‎wandering. Likewise, when you restrain your senses, bridle your tongue, constrain ‎your body, endure hunger, avoid appetizing food, escape bodily pleasure, and control ‎the love of money, you bear a cross.‎ ‎

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, as our Lord the Christ did.‎ 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.‎

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