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[Heb. 4:14–5:6; Mark 8:34–9:1] Whoso­ev­er will come after me, let him deny him­self, and take up his cross, and fol­low me (Mark 8:34). It is impos­si­ble to fol­ low the Lord as a cross­bear­er with­ out a cross, and every­one who fol­ lows Him, unfail­ing­ly goes with a cross. What is this cross? It is all sorts of incon­ve­niences, bur­dens and sor­rows — weigh­ing heav­i­ly both inter­nal­ly and exter­nal­ly — a­ long the path of con­sci­en­tious fulfil­ ment of the com­mand­ments of the Lord, in a life accord­ing to the spir­it of His instruc­tions and demands. Such a cross is so much a part of a Chris­t­ian that wher­ev­er there is a Chris­t­ian, there is this cross, and where there is no such cross, there is no Chris­t­ian. Abun­dant priv­i­leges and a life of plea­sure do not suit a true Chris­t­ian. His task is to cleanse and reform him­self. He is like a sick per­son, who needs cau­ter­i­za­tion, or ampu­ta­tion; how can this be with­ out pain? He wants to tear him­self away from the cap­tiv­i­ty of a strong ene­my; but how can this be with­out strug­gle and wounds?He must walk counter to all prac­tices sur­round­ing him; but how can he sus­tain this with­out incon­ve­nience and con­ straint?Rejoice as you feel the cross upon your­self, for it is a sign that you are fol­low­ing the Lord on the path of sal­va­tion which leads to heav­en. Endure a bit. The end is just around the cor­ner, as well as the crowns!

Saint Theo­phan the Recluse