“Whether we wish it or not, we must suffer. Some suffer like the good thief, other like the bad. Both suffered equally, but the one knew how to render his sufferings meritorious, and the other expired in the most frightful despair.
There are two ways of suffering – with love and without love. The saints suffered everything patiently, joyfully, perseveringly, because they loved. We suffer ill-humouredly, petulantly, wearily, because we do not love. If we loved God, we should rejoice that we have it in our power to suffer for the love of Him Who has deigned to suffer for us.
In the way of the cross, my children, it is only the first step which costs. The fear of crosses is our greatest cross.
THE FEAR OF CROSSES IS OUR GREATEST CROSS
We have not the courage to carry our cross; and herein we are very foolish, for, whatever we do, the cross clings to us; we cannot escape from it.
WHAT HAVE WE TO LOSE?
What have we then to lose? Why not love our crosses, and make use of them to gain heaven? But, on the contrary, most people turn from the cross and fly before it. The faster they run, the faster the cross pursues them, strikes them, crushes them with its weight…
If the good God sends us crosses, we recoil, we complain, we murmur, we are so intolerant of everything which crosses us, that we would like to be always in a box of cotton. We deserve to be put in a box of thorns!
It is through the cross that we reach heaven. Illness, temptations, sorrows, are so many crosses which lead us thither. All that will soon be over. Look at the saints who have arrived there before us. The good God does not demand of us the martyrdom of the body; He requires only the martyrdom of the heart and of the will. Our Lord is our Model; let us take up our cross and follow Him. Let us imitate the soldiers of Napoleon. It was necessary to cross a bridge swept by the enemy’s fire. No one dared to advance. Napoleon took the flag, marched in front, and all followed. Let us do likewise; let us follow Our Lord, Who has gone before us.
The cross is the ladder of heaven… How consoling it is to suffer under the eyes of God, to be able to say to oneself in the evening, at our examination [of conscience]: ‘To-day, O my soul, you have had two or three hours of resemblance to Jesus Christ; you have been scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified with Him…’ O what a treasure for the hour of death! How pleasant it is to die when one has lived on the cross!
If someone said to you: ‘I am anxious to grow rich, what must I do?’ you would answer: ‘You must work.’ Well, to gain heaven, we must suffer. Suffer! What matter! It is only for a moment. If we could pass eight days in heaven, we should understand the value of that moment of suffering. We should find no cross heavy enough, no trial bitter enough…”
– Blessed Cure d’Ars