Exaltation Of Our Cross
"However much we try to avoid them,
we shall never lack crosses in this life
if we are in the ranks of the Crucified."
So writes Saint Teresa of Avila to Father
Ambrosio Mariano de San Benito, who, in working
for the Carmelite Reform, was living in a
house he did not feel welcome.
Sensible words coming from a wise woman.
Teresa of Avila is a charming Spanish
and writer and a monastic reformer.
my mother in Carmel, the first woman
to be proclaimed Doctor of the Church.
Experience taught her many lessons.
her mother when she was young, passing
a severe sickness in her twenties,
and suffering many a setback in her
to beautify the Church… she knows what
is speaking about. Perhaps this is
manages to find bright colors even
there is pitch darkness.
Examples abound. Saint John of the
was her dear friend and disciple. When
was imprisoned at Toledo for nine months
for his efforts to do good, Teresa
immensely and yet "God's treatment
his friends is terrible, though they
really nothing to complain of, as He
the same to His own Son!" What
insight. Suffering makes us somewhat
to Him, the Beloved.
When the Carmel at Seville was being
maligned, Teresa exhorted the entire
to "try to be cheerful, and reflect
that, when all is said, it is a very
that you are suffering for so good
who endured so much for us: you have
even shed any of your blood for Him
An interesting way to console oneself!
The cross then is to be expected. So
it is God's will that we should suffer,
is of no use for us to run away."
away just compounds the problem. Better
simply embrace it.
What makes the cross disagreeable is
fact that it is normally forced upon
We do not choose it! Even its timing
times seems arbitrary! She confesses
prioress of Valladolid, "As far
am concerned it would be wonderful
free from all the bother these reformed
involve me in; but displeasing to me
such trials are, it is not the Lord's
to deliver me from them!" As simple
And let us say it all. It is not all
all the time. "It is really wonderful
to see how the Lord mingles sorrows
joys: that is the straight road which
own feet trod!" The same insight
recaps when she writes to Father Gracian,
"His Majesty will give you help
to your trails. And so, as you are
great trials, you will enjoy great
too. Blessed be His name for ever!"
Bottom line - He does everything well.
does everything in our favor. Everything.
After all, let's face it, "if
is so short is to be of any use at
use is for gaining life eternal".
obvious, no? But it is this obvious
we miss always. To a woman whose husband
was recently imprisoned, Teresa has
to write, "trials are blessings
His Majesty is granting to those He
loves, in order to stir up our wills
teach us to hold the things of this
as nothing, since they are so mutable
unstable, and make us strive to gain
eternal." You see? Crosses are
instruments of detachment from this
and good instruments of attachment
Once I found a quote of Saint Francis
Sales, that illustrated so well the
behind every suffering and pain. I
quote to a woman who was having a very
time with her pregnancy. The baby was
a nerve in her back and it created
pain. She had to lay down in bed for
months, sleeping hardly three hours
Next time I went to see her I saw that
actually framed it. "I look at
read it slowly when the pain is real
she told me, smiling.
This is the saying: "The everlasting
God has in His wisdom foreseen from
the cross that He now presents to you
a gift from His inmost heart. This
He now sends you He has considered
all-knowing eyes, understood with His
mind, tested with His wise justice,
with His loving arms and weighed with
own hands to see that it be not one
too large and not one ounce too heavy
He has blessed it with His holy Name,
it with His consolation, taken one
at you and your courage, and then sent
to you from heaven, a special greeting
God to you, an alms of the all-merciful
"If there are trials in store
let them come. They are welcome…."
Saint Teresa is not as crazy as she
PS. Last Thursday, September 14 was
of the Exaltation of THE Cross!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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