YOURSELF, TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME
This injunction seems harsh; and
one may think He is imposing a burden on us. His commands are not
difficult, since He helps to effect what He commands. And he who
loves God will find all His commands very light.
We know this to be true even in
earthly, wanton or wicked love, where man will undergo all
difficulties to attain their mad desires.
Therefore, dearly beloved, direct
all your attention on the choice of what you should love. Both the
love of the world and the love of God entails difficulties; but the
former has eternal damnation as its end while the latter has eternal
happiness as its reward.
Yet when we see man undergo
difficulties for an earthly crown, we applaud him; when a young man
undergoes difficulties for the kingdom of God, we pity him.
If we were surrounded by mere
lovers of the world, we would despair of eternal life. But,
fortunately, there are still souls patiently and even willingly
accepting many labors for love of Christ. . .and they are such a
Just as a man is lost through
loving himself, so he is found by denying himself. Love of self was
the ruin of the first man; he loved in the wrong order. He should
have loved God first; by so doing, he would have loved himself in
the right way. . . by denying himself.
Denying oneself is the first step
towards love of God. When we take the first step, we will meet
resistance, we will be opposed, mocked and even persecuted, not only
by unbelievers but also, by people who to all appearances belong to
the Church but in reality are excluded from it by their wickedness
but bear patiently with them.
And "follow Me" to
heaven", i.e. after you have denied yourselves and taken up
Let me warn anyone bent on
following Christ to listen to St. Paul: "One who claims to
abide in Christ ought to walk as He walked." And Christ walked
with all humility. To begin with, therefore, let us be humble; let
us always be content as long as we have food and clothing. If we
seek more than this, we will fall into temptations.
St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermo