St Francis in Prayer before the Crucifix or Saint Francis Kneeling in Meditation
El Greco (Domenikos Theokópoulos), 1585-90
The desire of Heaven is sacred; God wants us to long for it often. That is why He has filled our lives with sufferings, persecutions, and the cross, and why He permits the inconstancy of human friendships. He does not want us to attach ourselves either to the goods or the persons of the world. We are not created for each other, but for God alone. The happiness of this world is only a point without continuity, without length; one cannot attach oneself to it for long nor establish oneself in it.
We complain of the difficulties of the road, of the crosses which we encounter: they are the key to Paradise. Life is a path bordered by briars and thorns. Our Lord walks before us carrying His cross, let us follow Him. He has left the imprint of His footsteps, let us put our feet in them. If we go to the right or to the left, thinking to find happiness, we will tear ourselves on the thorns, for it is the Saviour Himself Who compares the joys of this world to thorns.
Let us then follow our Lord; He is going to Heaven. Take up your cross, carry it courageously to the end, in order to arrive in His wake. Do not be afraid to suffer and to die each day for Heaven. If you find this road difficult, our Lord will answer you that by it you will arrive sooner.
Do not be too preoccupied with the difficulties of the way. The one which His grace has traced for you is the good one, and His mercy will sustain you in it; it is the one which will make you arrive safely and straight on to Heaven.
—Bl. Peter Julian Eymard, God Created Us for Heaven (The Eucharist and Christian Perfection)
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