31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32 He made this very clear to them. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But Jesus turned around, looked at his disciples, and rebuked Peter. “Get away from me, Satan,” he said. “Your thoughts don’t come from God but from human nature!”
34 Then Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to him. “If any of you want to come with me,” he told them, “you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. 35 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. 36 Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! 37 There is nothing you can give to regain your life. 38 If you are ashamed of me and of my teaching in this godless and wicked day, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
The Science of the Cross 1.I.(6)
Content of the Message of the Cross
We have considered by what ways John penetrated the message of the cross. The following sections wish to show how this message was incorporated into the doctrine and life of the saint. To do so, it is necessary to set the content of the message before our eyes—for the time being, in a brief outline. We set it down here exactly as we find it expressed by the master of the science of the cross: “‘How narrow is the gate and constricting the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it’ (Mt 7:14). We should particularly note the exaggeration and hyperbole conveyed by the word how in this passage. This is like saying: Indeed the gate is very narrow, narrower than you think. . . . This path on the high mount of perfection is narrow and steep, it can only be trodden by wanderers who carry no burden that could drag them downwards. . . . Since in this, God alone is the goal that one should seek and gain, then only God ought to be sought and gained. . . . Our Lord, for our instruction and guidance along this road, imparted to us that wonderful teaching—I think it is possible to affirm that the more necessary the doctrine the less it is practiced by spiritual persons—. . . . ‘If anyone wishes to be my disciple let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life, will lose it but whoever loses it for my sake, will save it’ [Mk 8:34-35]. Oh, who can make this counsel of our Savior on self-denial understandable, practicable, and attractive! . . . Annihilation of all sweetness in God . . . dryness, distaste, and trial. . . . the pure spiritual cross and the nakedness of Christ’s poverty of spirit. . . . A genuine spirit seeks rather the distasteful in God than the delectable, leans more toward suffering than toward consolation, more toward going without everything for God than toward possession, and toward dryness and affliction than toward sweet consolation, for it knows that in this consists the following of Christ and self-denial, while the other is nothing further than seeking oneself in God . . . Seeking God in God [sic] means. . . for love of Christ, to choose all that is distasteful whether in God or in the world.”
Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
The Science of the Cross The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 ICS Publications, Washington DC © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.