St. Therese said that when He give us something to suffer, it is because He wants a gift from us. What gift? A smile onthe Cross.
Another reason to love the Cross is that it was the lot of our Savior. He does not want us to consider as an evil themeans by which He saved us. When people love one another, they have the same tastes---and Jesus wants us to sharewith Him His taste for the Cross.
Moreover, suffering helps us to detach ourselves from earth, to look higher, to remember that earth is a place of passage.
A great cross is very often, the prelude to a great grace, even for an unbeliever. Suffering ripens the soul, sometimesvery quickly. A great trial can, with one stroke, detach a soul form all that is created; it can be the source of a totalconversion.
Therefore the Cross is a means for Jesus to lead back to Himself those who do not love Him, to bring closer those whodo not love Him enough, and to consummate to Himself those who do love Him.
Suffering is an expiation of sin. We cannot expiate sin, which is guilty pleasure, except by suffering. Penance, penance---Sacred Scriptures are filled with this word. Our Lady reminded us of it at Lourdes, at La Salette, and atFatima.
Whether or not we are given the cross in order to expiate, let us remember that the Cross is always given in love. It isalways presented by Jesus in a design of love. It is always an occasion to prove our love, and if we take it that way, itwill then acquire the greatest value of expiation.
We always see the Cross as reparation, but not enough as preparation. It is a preparation for the graces which Jesuswants to give us, which He wants to shower upon us; it is a gift He gives us.
We often accept the Cross very generously, saying, “I certainly deserved it.” We see it as chastisement, a consequenceof our infidelities. Rising a bit higher, we accept it as an expiation for our faults. Rarely do we rise to the point of seeing in it Jesus’ attentiveness, His gentleness, a proof of His tenderness. Yet it is always that.
Isn’t it true that our first thought when we are sorely tried is to accept our cross with a bent back, as a justconsequence of our sins, and leave it at that? This is right in part, but it is not believing enough in love. It is theresponse of a slave, not of a friend.
Moreover, the Cross is the priceless means for saving souls. Think of all those for whom we purchase eternal bliss bya suffering which is, after all, transitory. Suffering is a goldmine to exploit for saving souls, for being a hidden apostle.
It is impossible to fulfill our Christian mission on earth without suffering. It seems that the greater the missions are,the more the crosses are too, and the heavier they are: the crosses of parents, the crosses of apostles, the crosses of priests, the crosses of bishops, the crosses of the Pope. Our Lord has given us a field to work, and we must irrigate itwith tears falling from the winepress of sorrows, in order that it may be fruitful.Msgr. Josemaria Escriva has written in
(number 761):Christ is nailed to the Cross. And you?... Still taken upwith your whims and fancies — or rather, nailed by them!
Jesus will never let the Cross crush us; on the contrary, it will us up toward Heaven. It is no longer you nor I who willcarry it; it is the Cross which will carry us. Jesus took upon Himself the bitterest Cross, and He will add a balm to it before giving it to us---that is certain.
The sweetness of the crosses accepted with joy of free will is a great mystery, yet very real. That is why you and Imust embrace it with open arms. If we hesitate, and drag it along, it will become insupportably heavy. Jesus willwithdraw the sweetness form it, because we would have turned away from Him in turning away from His cross.
Remember that Jesus is filled with compassion fro those who suffer. He has borne all our sufferings; He has enduredthem Himself at Gethsemane and on Calvary; but He knows that they are necessary to us, so “ He sends them to us asif with an averted gaze,” says St. Therese, “ as if He did not have the courage to watch us suffer. But He sees at thesame time the happiness it will merit for us, the glory it acquires for His Father, for Him, for us, and the graces itmerits for souls; so in love, in mercy, in tenderness, He hesitates no longer to lay it upon our poor shoulders, whilecontinuing to sustain it Himself, making Himself our “Simon of Cyrene.”In another point in
, Msgr. Josemaria Escriva has written (number 252): Grant me, Jesus, the Cross with noSimon of Cyrene to help me. No, that’s not right; I need your grace, I need your help here as in everything. You must bemy Simon of Cyrene. With you, my God, no trial can daunt me…—But what if my Cross should consist in boredom or sadness? — In that case I say to you, Lord, with You I would gladly be sad.