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The Royal Way of the Cross

 

From: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis (Book 2 Chapter 12)

1. To many this seems a hard saying: “Deny yourself, take up the Cross, and follow Jesus.” Matt 16: 24

But it will be much harder to hear that last word: “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire.” Matt 25: 41
For they who now willingly hear and follow the word of the cross shall not then be afraid of eternal condemnation.

This sign of the cross will be in heaven when the Lord shall come to judge.

Then all the servants of the cross, who in their lifetime have conformed themselves to the Crucified, shall come to Christ their judge with great confidence.

2. Why then are you afraid to take up your cross which leads to a kingdom?

In the cross is salvation; in the cross is life; in the cross is protection from your 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 the height of virtue; in the cross is the perfection of sanctity.

There is no health of soul nor hope of eternal life but in the cross.

Take up, therefore, your cross and follow Jesus, and you shall go into life everlasting.

He is gone before you carrying His own cross; and He bled for you upon the cross that you may also bear your cross and love to die on the cross.

Because if you die to Him you shall also live with Him, and if you are His companion in suffering you shall also partake in His glory. (2 Cor. 1: 7). 

3. Behold the cross is all, and in dying to yourself all consists, and there is no other way to life and to true internal peace but the holy way of the cross and of daily mortification.

       Go where you will, seek what you will and you shall not find a higher way above, nor a safer way below than the way of the holy cross.

       Dispose and order all things according as you will and as seems best to you, and you will still find something to suffer, either willingly or unwillingly, and so you shall still find the cross.

       For either you shall feel pain in the body, or sustain in your soul tribulation of spirit.

3. Sometimes you shall be left by God, other times you shall be afflicted by your neighbour, and what is more, you shall often be a trouble to yourself.

       Neither can you be delivered or eased by any remedy or comfort, but as long as it shall please God you must bear it.

       For God would have you learn to suffer tribulations without comfort, and wholly to submit yourself to Him, and to become more humble by tribulation.

13.  Would to God you were willing to suffer something for the name of Jesus! How great a glory would be laid up for you, how great a joy would it be to all the saints of God and how great edification to your neighbour.

       All recommend patience, but alas! How few there are that desire to suffer.

       With good reason ought you willingly to suffer a little for Christ, since many suffer greater things for the world.

14.  Know for certain that you must lead a dying life, and the more a man dies to himself the more he begins to live to God.

       No Man is fit to comprehend heavenly things who has not resigned himself to suffer adversities for Christ.

Nothing is more acceptable to God, nothing more wholesome for you in this world, than to suffer willingly for Christ.

       And if you were to choose, you ought to wish rather to suffer adversities for Christ than to be delighted with many comforts, because you would thus be more like Christ and more conformable to all the saints.

For our merit and the advancement of our state consist, not in having many
sweetnesses and consolations, but rather in bearing great afflictions and tribulations.

15.  If, indeed, there had been anything better and more beneficial to man’s salvation than suffering, Christ certainly would have showed it by word and example.

For He manfully exhorts both His disciples that followed Him and all that desire to follow Him to bear the cross saying: “If any one will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23).

So that when we have read and searched all let this be the final conclusion, that “through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14: 21).