PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, I place myself at the foot of the Cross, help me to understand how necessary it is to suffer in order to resemble You.
- For the soul who aspires to union with God, penance is not only a means of subjecting the flesh to the spirit, but also a means of being assimilated to Christ Crucified, in order to reproduce and prolong His Passion in its own body.
“Love makes equality and similitude” (J.C. AS J, 4,4): he who truly loves has a spontaneous desire to share in the sufferings of the loved one; it is the same with real lovers of the Crucified. St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi exclaims, “It is not fitting to be a delicate member of a Head crowned with thorns and crucified, nor the unmortified bride of a suffering Spouse.” It is an honor for a wife to be able to share in the entire life of her spouse. For a soul consecrated to God, it is an honor to be able to share, even in a small way, in the Passion of Christ; such a soul glories in it. “ But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world ” (Gal 6,14).
Although mortification of the spirit is certainly more important than that of the body, we must not forget that, in order to save the world, Jesus was willing to embrace both in the most complete manner. His whole life was a cross and a martyrdom; it ended with the sacrifice of Calvary, where His spiritual and physical immolation reached its height. As for the mortification of the senses, “It is certain,” says St. John of the Cross, “that He died as to sense, spiritually, during His life, besides dying naturally, at His death. For...in life He had not where to lay His head, and at His death, this was even truer.... Wherefore, as it seems to me, any spirituality that would fain walk in sweetness and with ease, and flees from the imitation of Christ, is worthless ” (AS II, 7,10.8).
- St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus wrote: “Remember that when you entered religion, you proposed to express in yourself the life of the Crucified” (Sp). To express the life of the Crucified means to live His Passion, to associate ourselves with His sufferings, to unite ourselves to His intentions—the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. “I...fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh, for His Body, which is the Church” (Col 1,24). This is another motive which has urged the saints to generous corporal mortification. Nothing is lacking in the Passion of Christ; He Himself said on the Cross, “all is consummated” (Jn 19,30). All was accomplished in Him, our Head, but it must now be accomplished in us, His members. Jesus wills to continue His Passion in us so that we may be associated with Him in the work of redemption; He wills to make us His collaborators in the most sublime of His works, the salvation of souls. Jesus, who could have accomplished His work alone, willed to need us in order to apply the infinite merits of His Passion to many souls.
Mortification, and even physical suffering, is therefore a requirement of a life of union with Christ; the more generous the soul is, the more it will participate intimately in the interior life and apostolic work of Jesus. We cannot be intimate with Christ if we do not suffer with Him, if we do not ascend the Cross with Him. “Let Christ Crucified be sufficient for thee, and with Him suffer and rest” (J.C. SM II, 13).
Suffering has a supernatural value only when it is borne with Christ and for Christ. It is Jesus who sanctifies suffering; apart from Him it is worth nothing and is of no use. But if it is embraced for love of Him, it becomes precious coin, capable of redeeming and sanctifying souls; it becomes a continuation of the Passion.
“O much desired Passion! Who desires you, loves you and is glorified in you? O eternal Truth, You tell me that Your Passion is neither desired nor loved by anyone who loves himself, but only by one who has stripped himself of self and clothed himself with You, O Crucified Christ ; by means of Your light he sees in the Cross the greatness of Your charity. O gentle, quiet Passion, which in the calmness of peace allows the soul to traverse the waves of the angry sea! O delectable, sweet Passion! O wealth of the soul, true joy, our glory and our beatitude; the soul which is glorified in you acquires your fruit. O Word, the soul which takes shelter in Your Passion is dead to sensuality and tastes the sweetness of Your charity.
“O my God, my Love, permit me one question: When the world was languishing in sickness, You sent Your only Son to be its physician...and now what means will You use to revive again this world which lies once more in death? I see that You give the name of Christ to Your servants and that by means of them You want to take away death and give back life to the world. And in what way? They must walk bravely in the footprints of the Word and work for Your honor and the salvation of souls with love and burning desire; to this end they should bear patiently all pains, anxieties, reproaches, and disgrace. O wonderful Restorer, give us many ‘ Christs ° who will spend their lives in vigils, tears, and prayers for the salvation of the world” (St. Catherine of Siena).
O Lord, You know the profound desire of my heart: to assimilate and unite myself to You in order to live Your life alone. If sublime states of prayer and flights of the spirit are not for me, the Cross is my share. You offer it to me, and I embrace it with all my heart. I know that what is easily within my reach, what I encounter every day, what is most suitable and proportioned to my misery, is suffering, for no human life is without sorrow. Lord, grant that in every suffering, physical as well as moral, I may recognize and embrace Your Cross, so that I may be intimately associated with Your Passion, for the salvation of souls. Now that You are glorified at the right hand of the Father, You can no longer suffer. Deign, then, to suffer in me and to use my poor humanity to continue Your work of redemption.
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