Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”
A desire of suffering death for Christ and a mortification of one's body, and a manful resolution to undergo any danger for Christ, and an indifference towards the present life, this it is to take up one's cross. Hence it is added, "And let him take up his cross daily."
Our salvation is not in long prayers and devotions, nor in external acts of charity and works of social justice. It consists in nothing else but the knowledge of God's divine goodness and greatness, of our own nothingness and susceptibility to all evil; in the love of God and hatred of self; in entire surrender, not only to God Himself, but, for the love of Him, to all creatures; in giving up our own will and in completely resigning ourselves to pleasing God; in desiring and doing all this with no other goal than the honour and glory of God, the fulfillment of God's will for its own sake and because He deserves to be served and loved.
This is the self-denial required of us. This is Jesus' easy yoke and light burden. This is that obedience that our Redeemer and Master calls us, both by word and example. But if we aspire to such perfection, we must take up our cross daily, disciplining ourselves by courageously attacking and destroying all our evil desires and affections. In matters great and small, it is necessary, then, that we prepare ourselves and hold ourselves in readiness for this conflict, for only he who is brave in the battle will be crowned.