(Matthew 16:24-28) The cross that Jesus exhorts us to take up is not generic but personal and unique. Thus, he doesn’t say that the disciple must take up the cross, but rather take up his cross. This, in turn, highlights the difference between the cross we take up and that on which Christ died. His cross was taken up for the sins of the world, whereas our cross involves (at least initially) the long and painful struggle to free ourselves from sin and its destructive consequences in our lives. Anyone who has seriously engaged in ongoing conversion will discover the aptness of the cross as a symbol to capture the difficulty and suffering involved in remaining faithful to this central monastic vow. However, with grace and perseverance this cross gradually becomes more like Christ’s as we suffer not so much because of our sins, but because of our growing likeness to Christ. Every saintly monk has experienced this for himself along with the joy that this cross brings. This was the joy of the early disciples who left the presence of the Sanhedrin rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. Accordingly, let us renew our monastic consecration and in taking up the daily cross of ongoing conversion, discover the joy that is one of its surprising fruits.