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  • Alexandra Clark | The Daily Knight

The Way of Holiness is the Way of the Cross

​Carmelites of the Holy Face of Jesus | The Daily Knight

One thing that is essential is a generous resolve to do God’s will at the present moment and in the particular circumstances in which we find ourselves. It is of no use promising ourselves we will begin tomorrow. “Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor.6:2) We cannot change the past, we cannot be sure of the future, we have only the present time to use or to lose as we choose. Including the Immaculate Mother of God, Mary most holy, there is not one single Saint who constantly found themselves in what we would term ideal circumstances. The circumstances they found themselves in were, humanly speaking, far from perfect, but from God’s point of view, they were precisely what was needed to form them into Saints. Even those who seem to have been Saints from the cradle (with very few exceptions) have still had their setbacks, struggles, crosses and natural defects to overcome. The Saints closest to the Throne of God in Heaven are not those who had the least struggles but rather those who courageously bore their daily crosses — often heavy and hidden ones — in loving union with Christ Jesus saying with St. Paul, “I can do all thing in Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

If we could only succeed in grasping the truth that crosses are our surest means of reaching union with God and realize that they are His gifts to those He loves best, we would rejoice at them and try to thank Him for them in spite of the groaning of our weak human nature. It is daily crosses, (usually hidden ones), lovingly accepted, carried and not dragged, which make saints. Which of us can claim we cannot be a saint because we have no cross? It may not seem very attractive when Our Lord hands it to us piece by piece, in little splinters rather than all at once; nevertheless, Faith and Love, along with a spirit of holy abandonment, will help us look beyond our daily trials (e.g. the crying baby, the mountain of dishes, the annoyances at work or difficulties at home…), and see that precisely in these lies our path to sanctity. The way of holiness is the way of the cross, and it is by this way alone that the Kingdom of Heaven is gained. When we have learnt how to suffer, we will have found the key to happiness and holiness, for the two go together. Suffering is an inescapable fact in this mortal life, but our very sufferings will become a source of joy if we accept them in a truly Christian — that is Christlike — spirit. Nothing unites us to God more closely than the cross which we carry for love of Him. When Our Lord said “Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me… for My yoke is easy and my burden light,” it was our daily crosses that He was referring to. A yoke is designed to be used by two animals to pull a load together. The burden when thus shared, is considerably lighter as long as they work in harmony. So it is in our spiritual life; the crosses God sends us are meant to be carried in union with Our Lord Jesus Christ, and He Himself strengthens and assists us. If we refuse to accept them, we will still suffer, but we will do so alone and so our burdens will be much heavier. One of the effects of real and genuine sanctity is a burning zeal for souls. While making every effort to overcome vice and practise virtue on our own part, we must not become so preoccupied with ourselves that we forget about others. Nor must we lose that balance and concern ourselves so much with sanctifying others that we neglect ourselves. The best way of assisting others is by prayer, example and charity. It was charity which prompted St. John Vianney to do such harsh penances, depriving himself of food and sleep. He did so partly because he believed it was his duty and partly for the sake of saving the souls of his parishioners. We know what wonderful results followed such a genuine emptying of self. While it is true that God does not ask such extreme penances from everyone, it is certain that many of us could do more. Which of us does not have a friend or a relative in need of conversion? If we offer even a portion of our daily crosses for that intention, uniting them to Our Lord’s own Passion, we will taste the joy of suffering with Him, and we too may confidently expect the happiest results. Lastly, the circumstances in which God has placed us are those which He wishes to use in order to form us into saints, if we only let Him. Each of us has a different path to sanctity — different at least in its external details — but the goal we are striving for and the Christian spirit which should animate us, are one and the same for all. Let us conclude with this beautiful and encouraging passage from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans: “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints.” (Romans 8:28)

Written by the Carmelites of the Holy Face of Jesus (Ireland) {One can Support them here}



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