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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

BUT us it behoves to glory in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ: in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection. These words concerning the sacred cross are read and chanted in holy Church; and therein is praised the merit of Our Lord’s Passion, which is most deservedly placed before all the sacrifices of the Law, and all the toils and virtues of the saints. For in the Passion and cross of Christ is our true salvation, and the redemption of the whole human race is most fully found: whereby Christ redeemed us and satisfied unto God the Father for our sins: and conquering death, unlocked Paradise again for us. This is exemplified in the thief hanging on the cross: to whom it was said: “This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.” O wondrous clemency of God: O most sweet answer: O saving blessing of the cross: which absolved the thief from all guilt: and brought him into Paradise, the first among Christians. Let therefore all the faithful render thanks to Christ, signed with the sign of the holy cross; washed and cleansed in the blood of Christ, redeemed by the Passion of Christ; quickened by the death of Christ, healed by the wounds of Christ: soothed by the pains of Christ, honoured by the shame of Christ. Let them one and all say with devout heart and harmonious mouth to the honour of the Crucified, to the confusion of the devil, to the exaltation of the holy cross: to the attaining of hope of eternal salvation, to the having of a strong trust in the hour of death; let them say, read, chant, recite, ponder, and ruminate the words most sweet, and truly most holy: and most agreeable to God above all perfumes. “But us it behoves to glory in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Happy the soul whose HEART IS PIERCED BY THE MOST BITTER PASSION OF CHRIST: and who DAILY EXERCISES HERSELF THEREIN, meditating, reading, praying. Blessed the soul, which takes up her cross, renouncing all earthly things: and whatever trouble befalls her WITHIN OR WITHOUT: bears it ALL PATIENTLY for Christ and HOLDS HER PEACE. For this is TO GLORY IN THE CROSS, TO REJOICE IN TRIBULATION FOR CHRIST’S SAKE; TO ABSTAIN FROM DELIGHTS OF THE FLESH, TO FLEE HONOURS, TO FORSAKE ONE’S OWN WILL: AND HUMBLY TO OBEY EVEN UNTO DEATH. To do this is to imitate Christ by the cross: and truly TO LOVE Him. For herein Christ knows who belongs to Him, and who loves Him more: if a man strives to conform himself to His Passion not only in thought, but in daily mortification.

And for this who is fit? Thinkest thou, any man will be found ready to take up his cross? A great and deep mystery is the word of the cross, which all do not receive: yea very many dread and flee the cross: and yet it leads to life eternal. O truly blessed cross, what great sweetness thou hast within: and what great strength thou affordest against all malady of vice and grief of heart. O precious wood of life, comely, saving: and blessed above all the trees of Paradise; to be honoured by angels, worshipped by men: to be kissed with devout lips, and embraced with outstretched arms. Because of thee we have been delivered, and reconciled to God: who were by nature children of wrath, and lost slaves. Because of thee joy came into the world: sadness and lamenting into hell. Thou art the salvation of believers, the glory of apostles, the shield of martyrs; the praise of confessors, the crown of virgins, the solace of widows, the strength of the aged, the discipline of youth: the mirror of religious, the refuge of the distressed.

O cross, brighter than the stars, more beautiful than the moon, more resplendent than the sun; lighting up Heaven, penetrating hell, chasing the demons, defending men, terrifying the wicked, rejoicing the good: humbling the proud, raising the lowly. O glorious cross, wondrous sign: invincible standard, impregnable buckler. O sweet wood, worthy of all honour; thou didst bear the King of the heavens: and didst support in thine arms the dying Son of God. Because of thee all images of the cross of whatsoever material made, and in whatsoever place set: are held in honour and veneration. Before thee bow down kings and princes, lord and lady, slave and handmaiden, rich and poor, monk and cleric, master and pupil; every age, and each sex of the faithful worship thee, praise and bless: for Christ’s sake, Who hung on thee, and redeemed all.

O cross blessed, for with thee are the sacraments of the Church blessed; priests consecrated, the sick anointed, the dead defended; images sculptured, walls painted: altars decorated.

O most lovely cross, dedicated in the body of Christ, and adorned with His members as with jewels; reddened with rose-red blood, pierced by nails, fixed in the depths of the earth: thou stretchest thy points to the four quarters of the world, drawing all things to thee, and embracing all things that are in Heaven and upon earth.

O most noble cross, most strong above all kinds of armour; conquering the world and the devil, fearing no punishment of death: in every anguish and need, both in life and in death, thou art a most secure aid, and singular solace.

O most beloved cross, chosen by Christ: and on His shoulders borne to the place of Calvary, nor parted from Him until death: near which stood Mary, the Mother of Jesus, full of sorrow, with the beloved disciple John and the devout Magdalene: I beseech thee, help me and defend me ever here and everywhere, day and night; that the malignant enemy, the ensnarer of souls, prevail not against me: but by the sacred sign of thy power protect and strengthen me; that I may continue in a right faith, firm hope, and perfect charity: for His sake, Who died on thee for me.

O cross, most full of virtue, and most worthy of all honour: lo, before thee tremble the wicked powers of hell; under thy sway also empires bow: to thee the things of heaven and earth bend the knee. For in thy power are wrought signs and wonders in many regions; lightning and thunder yield to thee: in wars also and darksome places, in perils of the sea and the air, thou art an excellent defence, and most secure refuge.

O cross, most holy, most highly to be reverenced, worthily to be worshipped, intimately to be loved, to be written on the heart, impressed on the brow and breast, devoutly I pray, earnestly I beseech, be nigh to me in all my distress: save, deliver, bless, sanctify all my members: rule my senses, all my words and works as long as I am in this life: THAT BY THEE HE MAY ACCEPT ME, WHO BY THEE REDEEMED ME: Jesus Christ, my Lord, crucified for me.

O cross, saving tree, exalted above all trees; thou art higher than the cedar, more redolent than the cypress: lovelier than the palm, more precious than the balsam, richer than the olive, more fruitful than the vine, sweeter than the fig, more verdant than the box, redder than the rose; more wholesome than all herbs and simples: more efficacious than all medicines and salves. Thou healest bodies and souls: thou soothest pains, and comfortest tears: thou givest hope to the wretched: and promisest rewards to the just. Thou affordest pardon to the penitent: and bestowest grace and mercy on all them that flee to thee. Thou pourest abundant blessing on the devout: showest light to them that wander, givest compunction to hearts: and ceasest not to bring the oil of consolation to all the faithful throughout the world: and shalt not cease to bud the fruit of eternal life even to the end of time: by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified for the salvation of the world.

O cross most sweet, most broad of foliage, most fresh of flower, most fertile of fruit: thou boldest the primacy and dignity, above all images representing the sacred Passion of Christ: wherever the name of Christ be heard, or preached. Therefore, because of the veneration of the divine virtue concealed in thee: thou art rightly adored, worshipped, and honoured by all. Thou on churches and chapels, on cloisters and castles, on cities and towns, on gates and doors, on walls and windows, on towers and roofs, on pavements and tombs, on altars and panels, on chasubles and stoles, on copes and coverings, on bridles and banners, on books and documents, on tables and stools, on halls and cells, on divers buildings and paintings: thou dost impress and inscribe the symbol of thy power. Thou art also fittingly set with gold and silver, jewels and precious stones; thou art reverently embroidered and adorned with purple and fine linen, satin and silk, flowers and roses: because of the noble image of our Saviour, triumphant and hanging on thee. All these devout honours are rightly paid thee by the faithful: because thou didst endure great shame and derision from the perfidious Jews in the Passion of Christ. It is just therefore, O good and holy Cross, that thou shouldst be associated in honour and exaltation: who didst share the shame and grief. No mortal man, however, shall ever be able to offer thy worth sufficient praise and honour; even if he were resplendent with the virtues of all the angels: or were glorious with the miracles of the saints. All praise and honour is too little and falls far short in words of what thy worth demands: for from the benefits of Christ abundantly bestowed on us, and from thy constant cleaving to Christ in the hour of death, still fuller homage of praise is justly due to thee. In this especially is fidelity of friendship known: when a man stands by his friend in his last need, and compassionates, and ministers, and continues his close comrade even to the yielding up of the ghost. Thus certainly didst thou act, O most faithful Cross, with the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ: Who first patiently bore thee on His shoulders: and thou in turn didst worthily receive thy Creator in thine arms. But also thou didst not forsake Him, thy lover, even to the end: by Whom thou was gently embraced, and long carried. Whence likewise thou hast become to all true Christians and Cross bearers a mirror of endurance in the chastisement of the flesh: yea also, lovers of the cross praise thee as the victor of every toil, and the giver of eternal rewards; as is most clearly shown in blessed Peter the Apostle, and St. Andrew: who both went to Christ by means of the cross.

O cross, most happy, and to be loved above all devout comforts: ever to be held in mind, ever to be kept in sight: thou art the couch of the Saint of saints: Who, when He had not where to lay His aching and ailing head: thou didst become His pillow. Thou art the bed of the wounded back of Our Saviour, not soft or flower-strewn: but unyielding, rough, and narrow exceedingly. Thou hast suffered none to tarry, or rest, or repose within thine arms: but the sacred, divine body of Jesus, virgin-born: by which in divers places thou didst deserve to be touched, sprinkled and consecrated with His precious blood. Thou art the stool of the holy feet of the Son of God in His agony: thou the altar of the High Priest: on which Christ offered Himself for our sins, a victim to God unto the odour of sweetness. Thou art the ark of the covenant of the Lord, containing the Author of both Testaments: thou, the golden vase holding the hidden manna, the true body of Christ, sacrificed for us. Thou art the treasury of the most high King, full of heavenly riches; in which are contained the holiest relics of all the world: namely, the Lord’s body, the bloody nails, the thorny crown, and all the precious wounds.

O truly holy cross: how grandly hast thou merited to be beautified, enriched, and honoured by God. For thou art adorned with such great, good, and holy relics: that no shrine, no casket, no royal palace, no house of ivory, no marble pillar is to be compared with thy worth. Duly then and justly let the whole earth with all devotion worship thee and sing to thee: let it utter a psalm to thy name for ever and ever to the honour of the Crucified. Let every faithful soul therefore read and often meditate the words written of the sacred cross: and say, with blessed Paul, the Apostle, and all the holy Church, “But us it behoves to glory in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ: in Whom is our salvation, life and resurrection.” Amen.

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