Selected Quotes of the Fathers on the Holy Cross
"Question: What does this mean: “Thy rod and Thy staff, they have comforted me” (Psalm 23:4)? Answer: The rod is the Cross, afflictions and the staff is the Jesus Prayer. The rod is the active part of virtue, and the staff is the noetic part."
St. Ambrose of Optina (+1891)
"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 that when the thief of the Gospel, too, 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)."
St. Anatoly of Optina, Collection of Letters to Nuns
"Did you see how baptism is a cross? Learn that even Christ called baptism the cross when He used the name of baptism interchangeably [with that of the cross]. He called your baptism a cross. 'I call my baptism a cross,' he says. Where does He say this? 'I have a baptism to be baptized with, of which you do not know.' And how is it clear that He is speaking of the cross? The sons of Zebedee came up to Him - rather, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, saying 'Command that these my two sons may sit, one at thy right and and one at thy left hand, in thy kingdom.' A mother's request, even if it was an inconsiderate one! How then did Christ answer? 'Can you drink of the cup of which I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?' You see that He called the cross a baptism."
St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions
"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."
St. Hesychius the Priest
"Far be it for me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14). Truly this symbol is thought despicable; but it is so in the world's reckoning, and among men; in Heaven and among the faithful it is the highest glory. Poverty too is despicable, but it is our boast; and to be cheaply thought of by the public is a matter of laughter to them, but we are elated by it. So too is the Cross our boast. He does not say, `I boast not,' nor, `I will not boast,' but, `Far be it from me that I should,' as if he abominated it as absurd, and invoked the aid of God in order to his success therein. And what is the boast of the Cross? That Christ for my sake took on Him the form of a slave, and bore His sufferings for me the slave, the enemy, the unfeeling one; yea, He so loved me as to give Himself up to a curse for me. What can be comparable to this?"
St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Galations
"Glory, O Lord, to the power of Thy Cross, which never fails! When the enemy oppresses me with a sinful thought or feeling, and I, lacking freedom in my heart, make the sign of the Cross several times with faith, suddenly my sin falls away from me, the compulsion vanishes, and I find myself free… For the faithful the Cross is a mighty power which delivers from all evils, from the malice of the invisible foe."
St. John of Kronstadt
"Many indeed are the wondrous happenings of that time: God hanging from a Cross, the sun made dark, and again flaming out; for it was fitting that creation should mourn with its Creator. The Temple veil rent, blood and water flowing from His side: the one as from a man, the other as from What was above man; the earth was shaken, the rocks shattered because of the Rock; the dead risen to bear witness of the final and universal resurrection of the dead. The happenings at the Sepulchre, and after the Sepulchre, who can fittingly recount them? Yet not one of them can be compared to the miracle of my salvation. A few drops of Blood renew the whole world, and do for all men what the rennet does for milk: joining us and binding us together."
St. Gregory the Theologian
"The Most High planted in the middle of Paradise The thrice blessed wood, the gift of life for us, In order that, in approaching it, Adam might find eternal and immortal life, But he did not strive earnestly to know this life, And he failed to attain it, and revealed death. However, the robber, seeing how the plant in Eden Had been beautifully transplanted in Golgotha, Recognized the life in it and said to himself: `This is what my father lost formerly In Paradise.'"
St Romanos the Melodist - On the Adoration at the Cross
"The cross is the door to mysteries. Through this door the intellect makes entrance in to the knowledge of heavenly mysteries. The knowledge of the cross is concealed in the sufferings of the cross. And the more our participation in its sufferings, the greater the perception we gain through the cross. For, as the Apostle says, `As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."
The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac of Syria
"The one who knows God will follow the Lord's footsteps, bearing the cross of the Saviour. 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 in The One Who knows God
"What does it mean to take up your cross? I means the willing acceptance, at the hand of Providence, of every means of healing, bitter though it may be, that is offered. Do great catastrophies 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, Homilies, Vol. 1
"When the first creature was shut out from Paradise, An order was given to the Cherubim to guard the road; But take My cross On your shoulders, and thus go into Eden with haste. If the sword of the Cherubim did not see you wearing the title rights of the inscription, The sword of flame which stands guard would consume you But, taking the inscription of My cross, robber, Walk up to the Cherubim, And they will know the symbol of life and they will give into your hands The power to open and to lead My friends Into Paradise."
The Kontakia of St. Romanos, On the Adoration at the Cross
"Why do we honor the Cross with such reverence that we make mention of its power in our prayers after asking for the intercession of the Mother of God and the Heavenly Powers, before asking for that of the Saints, and sometimes even before asking for that of the Heavenly Powers? Because after the Saviour's sufferings, the Cross became the sign of the Son of Man, that is, the Cross signifies the Lord Himself, incarnate and suffering for our salvation."
St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ
"While man can scarcely keep what belongs to him by nature, Christ gives the grace of sonship through the Cross."
Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779
"We have been born anew through baptism and restored by the tree of the cross. The passion of the Lord effects the resurrection of our race and its readiness by grace to paradise whence it had fallen by sin freely willed. When Christ provided for us the refuge of his cross, the Lord destroyed the sting of death which was reigning over us."
St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101.