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Adoration of the Holy Cross – Metropolitan of Strumica, Naum


Refer: Mark 8:34 – 9:1


“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34).


The Cross of Christ is our voluntary and involuntary sufferings, which we endure with humility and gratitude for the communion with the God-Man Christ. Only these sufferings, not – any others.


When He tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, the Lord Jesus Christ calls us voluntarily to go through the three stages of our spiritual development:

– Purification of the heart from the passions,

– Enlightenment of the mind, and

– Deification of the person.

Self-denial reveals the first stage of the spiritual development – purification of the heart from the passions. The cross, i.e. the suffering at this level of our spiritual development, consists in renunciation (denial) of our sick self, which is identified due to the sinful habit itself, with its passions:

– Love of pleasures,

– Covetousness (love of money, possessions)  and

– Vanity (vain glory); and this struggle is not easy. But the Cross of Christ is our first love; and last.

Self denial begins from the moment we repent, confess our sins, and begin to live in the Church, under the guidance of a spiritual father – in obedience.


Taking up the cross is especially related to the second stage of spiritual development – enlightenment of the mind with the gift of the prayer of the mind in the heart. The cross consists, at this level, in the prayerful struggle, i.e. love for God and for all people, and at the same time in the suffering caused by some people who, led by the demon, attack us and hate us, without any harm being done to them on our part.


Following Christ, in the true sense of the word, refers to the third stage of the spiritual life – deification. We will talk about that, in its own time … by deed. That is the Resurrection.


Which is to say, God calls us to a conscious and willing struggle – suffering of the children of God … If not, surely the involuntary suffering of the “hired workers” and “slaves” awaits us.


Suffering is a gift from God that reveals our inner world. A sign that we accept suffering as a gift from God occurs when, without any change of the intensity of the suffering, our attitude towards it changes, such that it becomes a source of joy, comfort and God’s grace. How is that possible?


In each of our personal sufferings we recognise Christ firstly and we build upon (upgrade) our personal relationship with Him. Suffering itself is real, but it remains in the background, because through acceptance and gratitude it becomes a source of joy from the newly established and upgraded relationship with our Lord. Any other suffering is meaningless.


We need to accept the way God has chosen to communicate with us – no matter how bad it may seem to us, and for us not to reject Him. First is acceptance, and then we search to see if anything can be changed. We rebel lovingly only when we ask for something for someone else or for the Church.


Our relationship with God is a living relationship: we accept one thing (some things) with gratitude, we indisputably agree about another thing, for a third thing (for some things) we rebel in love and ask to be changed. – It all depends on how well our personal relationship with Him is built; at which level we are, and what sort of freedom we have before Him.


There is no image of God and likeness of God in man, there is no real freedom and love in the relationship between man and God, there is no real relationship between man and God if man does not have the opportunity to change God’s will. There is no man and there is no God – there is no God-Man. There is no Cross. That is it.


Most-Holy Bogorodica (Birth-giver of God), save us!

Metropolitan of Strumica, Naum

 03.04.2021 16:39

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