The basic Christian decision signifies the assent to being a Christian, the abandonment of self-centredness.
The phrase “the way of the cross”, represents the basic idea that man, leaving behind the seclusion and tranquillity of his “I”, departs from himself in order by this frustration of his “I” to follow the crucified Christ.
Think, for example, of the image of the exodus, which remains the basic idea governing the existence of the people of God and of him who belongs to it: he is called to the continual exodus of going beyond himself.
In an image borrowed from nature it is shown the basic structure of Christian life represents at bottom the stamp of the cosmic, of creation itself. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24) On the cosmic plane the law holds good that life comes only through death, through loss of self. By embracing the fate of the grain of wheat, by letting himself be broken down and by losing himself, the Christian opens up access to true life.
- Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph. (1969) Introduction to Christianity (pp 251-253)