"Through the Cross, joy has come into all the world!"
From: Letters on the Spiritual Life
Exaltation of the Lord’s Cross has arrived. Then the Cross was erected
on a high place, so that the people could see it and render honor to
it. Now, the Cross is raised in the churches and monasteries. But this
is all external. There is a spiritual exaltation of the cross in the
heart. It happens when one firmly resolves to crucify himself, or to
mortify his passions—something so essential in Christians that,
according to the Apostle, they only are Christ’s who have crucified
their flesh with its passions and lusts (cf. Gal. 5:24). Having raised
this cross in themselves, Christians hold it exalted all their lives.
Let every Christian soul ask himself if this is how it is, and let him
hearken to the answer that his conscience gives him in his heart. Oh,
may we not hear, “You only please your flesh in the passions; your cross
is not exalted—it is thrown into the pit of the passions, and is
rotting there in negligence and contempt!”
When the Lord was
taken down from the Cross, the Cross remained on Golgotha, and then it
was thrown into the pit that was in that place, where this instrument of
execution was usually thrown, together with other refuse. Soon
Jerusalem was razed and all of its edifices were leveled to the ground.
The pit containing the Cross of Christ was also filled over. When the
pagans rebuilt the city (the Jews were forbidden to come near the place
where it was), it happened that on the place where the Cross of Christ
was hidden, they placed an idol of Venus, the pagan Goddess
of fornication and all manner of lusts. This is what the enemy suggested
to them. This is how it is with our inner cross. When the enemy
destroys the spiritual order in the soul, this is our mental Jerusalem,
and then the spiritual cross is thrown down from the Golgotha of the
heart and is covered over with the garbage of the affections and lusts.
Lustful self-pleasure then rises like a tower over all our inner peace,
and everything in us bows down to it and fulfills its commands until
grace shines upon us, inspiring us to cast down the idol and lift up the
cross of self-crucifixion.