We must love the crosses God gives us more than the ones we choose

March 8, 2022 • 3 min

#Obedience #Penance

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 210
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

With regard to the various kinds of mortification, that which is inward and hidden is far more excellent than that which is exterior, the former not being compatible, as is the latter, with hypocrisy, vanity, or indiscretion.

Again, those mortifications which come upon us from without, either directly from God or through men by His permission, are always superior to those which depend upon our own choice and which are the offspring of our will.

Many, however, find here a stumbling block, being very eager to embrace mortifications suggested by their own inclinations, which, after all, however apparently severe, are really easy because they are what nature itself wants.

On the other hand, mortifications which come to them from without and through others, however light they may be, they find insupportable. For example, a person will eagerly make use of disciplines, hair-shirts, and fasting, and yet will be so tender of his reputation that if once in a way laughed at or spoken against, he will become almost beside himself, robbed of his rest and even sometimes of his reason; and will perhaps in the end be driven to the most deplorable extremities.

Another will throw himself with ardour into the practice of prayer, penance, silence, and such like devotions, but will break out into a fury of impatience and complain indignantly and unrestrainedly at the loss of a law-suit, or at the slightest damage done to his property.

Another will give alms liberally and make magnificent foundations for the relief of the poor and sick, but will groan and tremble with fear when himself threatened with infirmity or sickness, however slightly; and upon experiencing the least possible bodily pain, will give vent to interminable lamentations.

In proportion as people are more or less attached to honours, gain, or mere pleasures, they bear with less or more patience the hindrances to them; nor do the majority of men seriously consider that it is the hand of God which gives and which takes away, which kills and which makes alive, which exalts and which casts down, as it pleases Him.

In order to heal this spiritual malady in a certain person our Blessed Father wrote to her:

Often and with all your heart kiss the crosses which God has laid upon your shoulders. Do not consider whether they are of precious and sweet-scented wood or not. And, indeed, they are more truly crosses when they are of coarse, common, ill-smelling wood. It is strange, but one particular chant keeps ever coming back to my mind, and it is the only one I know. It is the canticle of the divine Lamb; sad, indeed, but at the same time harmonious and beautiful—Father, not my will, but Thine be done. [Luke xxii. 42.]

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