Saint Bernard embrassant le crucifix
Under the influence of fear, we bear the Cross of Christ with patience.
Under the more inspiring influence of home, we carry the Cross with a firm and valiant heart.
But under the consuming power of love, we embrace the Cross
The second fruit is a strong desire for suffering, though it does not disturb her peace as before because the fervent wish of such souls for the fulfilment of God’s will in them makes them acquiesce in all He does. If He would have her suffer, she is content; if not, she does not torment herself to death about it as she used to do. She feels a great interior joy when persecuted, and is far more peaceful than in the former state under such circumstances: she bears no grudge against her enemies, nor wishes them any ill. Indeed she has a special love for them, is deeply grieved at seeing them in trouble, and does all she can to relieve them, earnestly interceding with God on their behalf. She would be glad to forfeit the favours His Majesty shows her, if they might be given to her enemies instead, to prevent their offending our Lord. The most surprising thing to me is that the sorrow and distress which such souls felt because they could not die and enjoy our Lord’s presence are now exchanged for as fervent a desire of serving Him, of causing Him to be praised, and of helping others to the utmost of their power. Not only have they ceased to long for death, but they wish for a long life and most heavy crosses, if such would bring ever so little honour to our Lord. Thus, if they knew for certain that immediately on quitting their bodies their souls would enjoy God, it would make no difference to them, nor do they think of the glory enjoyed by the saints, and long to share it. Such souls hold that their glory consists in helping, in any way, Him Who was crucified, especially as they see how men offend against Him, and how few, detached from all else, care for His honour alone. True, people in this state forget this at times, and are seized with tender longings to enjoy God and to leave this land of exile, especially as they see how little they serve Him. Then, returning to themselves and reflecting how they possess Him continually in their souls, they are satisfied, offering to His Majesty their willingness to live as the most costly oblation they can make.
—St Teresa of Ávila, Interior Castle or The Mansions
The desire to be in eternal peace is good and holy, but you must moderate this with complete resignation to the divine will. It is better to do the divine will on earth, than to enjoy Paradise. To suffer and not to die, was Saint Teresa’s motto. Purgatory is sweet when one suffers for love of God.
— St. Padre Pio †
Do not be afraid of going to purgatory because of its pain, but rather long not to go there because this pleases God who imposes this expiation so regretfully. From the moment that you try to please Him in all things, if you have the unshakable confidence that He will purify you at every instant in His love and will leave in you no trace of sin, be very sure that you will not go to purgatory.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux
God is purifying us “at every instant”. That means right now we are being purified. How?
The Way of the Cross
Christ demands that we pick up our cross and follow him. Why does He say that? Why didn’t he say, “Just try to be nice and a generally good person doing the best you can, and I’ll make sure you get to heaven where you can have your favorite flavor of ice cream and be reunited with your childhood dog.”?
Why is the cross the way to Heaven? And what is my cross anyway?
The cross is the way to heaven, because it is what God uses to purify us. It is the altar on which the sacrifice of purification is made. We must take up our crosses, because on our crosses is the only place where we can sacrifice our old self, our worldly self, and purify our souls for Heaven. That is why God allows Satan into our lives. The devil is the unwitting instrument of our purification. Just as Christ HAD to be tempted by the devil in the desert of Judea, we HAVE to be tempted by the devil in the desert of our hearts.
Let us be one with God even in this life; in order to be so, we should be more than resigned, we should embrace the Cross with joy.