What exactly is a cross?


"Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. " (Matthew 16:24).

So what exactly is a cross?


A cross is most commonly used a religious symbol that is far older than Christianity.

In it’s most simplest form it looks like this:

  • or even x

Here are some sites about the history of the cross:






Well, a cross can be anything. We all have our individual crosses to bear and issues to contend with. Some folks tend to be overweight, some are homosexual, some have health issues, some have anger issues, some have addiction issues, some have divorce in their families, some have difficult relatives to deal with, some have esteem issues, some have employment or education issues, some have actual religious bias and persecution to contend with.

Bottom line, all of us have some cross to bear, of that you can be sure. As long as we place our trust in Him, though, and follow Him, we will do just fine in dealing with whatever our cross happens to be.


what is your duty today, this minute, according to your state in life? that is your cross, daily


D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Matt 16:24 “If any man will come. St. Chrysostom, Euthymius, and Theophylactus, shew that free will is confirmed by these words. Do not expect, O Peter, that since you have confessed me to be the Son of God, you are immediately to be crowned, as if this were sufficient for salvation, and that the rest of your days may be spent in idleness and pleasure. For, although by my power, as Son of God, I could free you from every danger and trouble, yet this I will not do for your sake, that you may yourself contribute to your glory, and become the more illustrious. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lvi.)”


Is there any official church document explaining what a cross is?


Why would there be an official Church document explaining this. I hope you don’t think there are such documents explaining every verse in the Bible because there are not.


That sounds strange to me. If, as Christians, we are supposed to take up our cross and follow Jesus, then the church should explain what a cross really is.


Perhaps reading the following will help you. Though it isn’t clear that the writer is Catholic, he is a Christian:



It did help me. But is it a Catholic website?


It appears that the host of the website is not Catholic. I posted the link to the article because it does not appear to contradict Catholic teachings and I thought it might be helpful in answering your question. I freely admit, however, that I am not a theologian and may have missed something in that particular article that might be against the teachings of the Catholic Church, so I remain open to correction in that regard.

Why not ask an Apologist your question? That way you will be sure to get a Catholic answer.


They never give me one when I ask them a question! Perhaps you should try asking them this question, they might answer you!


Commentary from NAB:

“this utterance of Jesus challenges all believers to authentic discipleship and total commitment to himself through self-renunciation and acceptance of the cross of suffering, even to the sacrifice of life itself”


The answers given here have been perfect, Iaskquestions. I totally concur with what everyone says above. In fact, they are great answers.

I believe there are indeed texts that explain the position of the Church on just about every Bible verse. There are commentaries, Denzinger, and specifically on your topic a book called “The Imitation of Christ” by Kempis which would be perfect.

I would say this though. Bearing your cross is not an intellectual exercise, it is a spiritual way of life. It might be doing something to help someone when you’d really rather be watching TV, as a parent it might be getting up at 3am to attend to a sick child, it might be going to a job you hate out of love for your family to keep a roof over their heads. That’s why the Lord also said, “and learn of me.” Because that is what he did. He didn’t live for himself and he is an exemplarary example of self-lessness.

From a pastoral point of view, remember that Jesus refers to carrying your burden like an ox. Two oxen share one yoke, a timber pole across their shoulders, and so as you pull your load, the Lord is the other ox. You are not alone.


Funny, my hubby just gave me “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas Kempis as a ‘just because’ gift about a week ago. I have not yet had time to get started reading it. Maybe if I had, I could have quoted something from it rather than directing iaskquestions to the site that I did. With today being Sunday, it is a perfect day to find a little quiet time to get started reading and maybe I’ll be able to come back with another reply. :slight_smile:


Nothing wrong with linking to a non-Catholic site for something on which all Christians agree, IMO.

The Imitation isn’t exactly a light read. Definitely pray before reading it. But it does approach the concepts of the cross and following Christ in quite a strong fashion. I found it too full-on earlier in my walk. If you’re not ready for it, just put it on your shelf for later. It’s not a “just because” kind of book. It’s more spiritual meat than milk, if you get what I mean. A tough one, to be sure. All the best with it, and please PM me or review it here. Very interested in what others think of it.


I agree, but I also recognize that I have much to learn and that I am ignorant where others are quite knowledgeable about Scripture. :slight_smile: I didn’t/don’t want to misguide anyone.

I don’t expect it to be a light or quick read, which might be why I haven’t yet gotten started with it. I hope I have the intellect and spiritual strength and maturity to understand and benefit from it. I referred to it as a ‘just because’ gift simply because my husband gave it to me for no reason other than to help me along in my faith journey (which is a very good reason, actually). He has been reading it since he attended an ACTS retreat in April and thought I might benefit, since as spouses it is each of our jobs to help each other along toward hopefully someday viewing the Beatific vision.:slight_smile: He has told me that he only reads and reflects on a little of it each day because it is quite weighty material, so I expect it will be a long read for me.

In any event, I will get started with it later today and hope to be able to read it rather than put it aside. I wish to follow Christ completely Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, but perhaps I am not quite spiritually mature and able just yet. We shall see.


A little at a time is good. Probably also a good idea to remember balance with that book. eg It will advise you to take the worst seat in preference to otthers, to seek to be the lowest, etc. That doesn’t mean you are to be a doormat. Just remember you can help more people if you preserve and protect yourself. Love others* as yourself*. You’ll see what I’m talking about as you read it.


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