"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Cross to Bear

A monk who had long been fighting against temptations with terrible struggles became faint in spirit and started praying to God to lighten the cross which had been placed on him in life: "Is it really impossible for me to reach the Heavenly Kingdom and spiritual perfection with a less painful cross?" An angel appeared and led him into a spacious upper room, on the walls of which hung many varied crosses: heavy iron ones and lighter wooden ones; among both the former and the latter were some very large crosses, some smaller, and some very small. "The Lord has heard your prayer," said the angel, "and permitted you to choose a cross for yourself."

"Do you suppose God will forgive me," said the hermit, "that I, after struggling for many years, am now taking for myself this, the smallest of the little wooden crosses?"

Then the angel said to him, "This is the very cross you have been bearing up to this day and which you considered too exhausting; all the other crosses are incomparably heavier." Then the monk understood his foolishness and offered repentance, realizing that the Lord never lays on people a burden beyond their strength; but a Christian must accept it submissively and pray for the help of divine grace.

from Confession: A Series of Lectures on the Mystery of Repentance, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Holy Trinity Monastery, pp. 28-29

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