God does not create a cross for man. No matter how heavy a cross a man may carry in life, it is still just wood, from which man himself made, and it always grows from the soil of his heart.
Ambrose of Optina
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). And just exactly as all who were bitten by the serpents looked upon the bronze serpent which was suspended and were healed, thus also every Christian who believes in our Christ and has recourse to His life-bearing wounds… is cured of the bites of the spiritual serpent of sin and by this most holy nourishment is made to live unto the renewal of a new creation, that is, new life in harmony with His life-giving commandments.
Elder Ephraim, “Counsels from the Holy Mountain”
The Cross, is wood which lifts us up and makes us great … The Cross uprooted us from the depths of evil and elevated us to the summit of virtue.
St. John Chrysostom
The holy Fathers relate a story that when the thief of the Gospel came to the gates of the Kingdom, the Archangel with the flaming sword wanted to chase him away, but he showed him the Cross. Immediately the fire-bearing Archangel himself withdrew and permitted the thief to enter. Understand here not the wooden cross. But which? The Cross in which the chief Apostle Paul boasts and concerning which he writes, ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus’ (Gal. 6:17).
Anatoly of Optina
As you contemplate the sticks that Isaac was laid upon, reflect on the cross. As you look on the fire, meditate on the love. Look too on the sheep hanged by its two horns on the plant that is called ‘Sabek’. Look too on Christ, the Lamb of God, hanged by his two hands upon a Cross. The plant called Sabek means ‘forgiveness’, for it saved from slaughter the old man’s child. It foreshadows the cross that forgives the world its sins and grants it life. The ram hanging on the Sabek plant mystically redeemed Isaac alone. While the Lamb of God hanging on the cross delivered the world from Death and Hell.
St. Ephrem the Syrian
But we are able to see Christ’s inexpressible love for man not only from the cross itself but also from the words which He spoke while upon the cross. At the very time when He was nailed and they were mocking Him, deriding Him and spitting upon Him, He said: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34)… At the same time that they were saying, “If You are the Son of God save Yourself,” He was accomplishing everything necessary to save these same ones who were reproaching Him. …He did forgive them, if they wished to repent, because if He had not forgiven them this sin, Paul would not have become an apostle;’ if He had not forgiven them this sin, the three thousand and the five thousand, and the many other thousands, would not have immediately believed.
St. John Chrysostom
Do not seek the perfection of the law in human virtues, for it is not found perfect in them. Its perfection is hidden in the Cross of Christ.
Hesychius the Priest
Of course, it would be easier to get to paradise with a full stomach, all snuggled up in a soft feather-bed, but what is required is to carry one’s cross along the way, for the kingdom of God is not attained by enduring one or two troubles, but many!
Elder Anthony of Optina
The knowledge of the Cross is concealed in the sufferings of the Cross.
St. Gregory the Great
The one who knows God will follow the Lord’s footsteps, bearing the cross of the Savior. It is said, “The world is crucified to him and he to the world.” The Lord says, “He who loses his life will save it.” We can “lose our lives” in one of two ways. First, we can risk our lives just as the Lord did for us. Secondly, we can separate our lives from the customary things of this world. Bearing the cross means to separate our souls from the delights and pleasures of this life. If you do this, you will find your life again – resting in the hope of what is to come. Dying to ourselves means being content with the necessities of life. When we want more that these necessities it is easy to sin.
St. Clement of Alexandria
What does it mean to take up your cross? It means the willing acceptance, at the hand of Providence, of every means of healing, bitter though it may be, that is offered. Do great catastrophes fall on you? Be obedient to God’s will, as Noah was. Is sacrifice demanded of you? Give yourself into God’s hands with the same faith as Abram had when he went to sacrifice his son. Is your property ruined? Do your children die suddenly? Suffer it all with patience, cleaving to God in your heart, as Job did. Do your friends forsake you, and you find yourself surrounded by enemies? Bear it all without grumbling, and with faith that God’s help is at hand, as the apostles did.
St. Nikolai Velimirovich