Love unites one person to another. In the Christian life, it is charity or the supernatural love that pours forth from the Sacred Heart of Jesus into our hearts that alone can unite us fully to God. This supernatural love lays hold of our entire soul, intellect, heart (with all its affections,delights, and desires), will, activity, and delivers all unreservedly to God. Thus, the essence of love itself is devotedness. It is a firm determination of the will to give oneself up to another, and, if need be, to make the entire sacrifice of self to the other, preferring his good pleasure to that of self.
In this earthly life, in our present state of fallen nature where our tendencies have been disordered – seeking and pursuing our happiness in our self-worth, bodily fitness, pleasures and comforts, and the best possible life the world can offer – we cannot love God with our whole mind, heart, soul and strength (Lk. 10.27) without suffering: without scraping off from our hearts all the hardened dross that has accumulated since the dawn of reason and which blocked the full reign of the Beloved Who does not tolerate half-measures: I would thou wert cold or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of My mouth (Apoc. 3.15,16; cf., also our post “The Ultimate Delusion of Vatican II ‘Catholicism'”). Therefore, “O my God, I choose everything. I do not want to be a saint by halves. I am not afraid to suffer for You,” says our dear “Little Therese”.
The Cross is suffering viewed in the supernatural light of faith as an instrument of salvation and sanctification, and therefore, as an instrument of love. Seen in this light, the Cross is certainly worthy of love; it is the outstanding means of our sanctification. Our union with God cannot be accomplished except through suffering. Now, friendship is the union, the blending of two souls into one: “One heart and one soul… the same likes and dislikes” (“Cor unum et anima una… unum velle, unum nolle”). Thus our friendship with God is a perfect union of all our faculties with Him; a union of our mind that subordinates our reason to Reason by patterning our thoughts after those of God – conforming our way of thinking to the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church and not to the novelties of a counterfeit ‘Catholicism’ which are in line with the principles of Masonic ‘Enlightenment’ (“liberty, equality, fraternity or brotherhood” and the unending ecumenical search for truth and meaning), the counterfeit ‘Christianity’ [the religious revolt of the 16th century: ‘Protestantism’, cf. our post “The Great Sign in Heaven“] of the Synagogue (service of one’s personal judgment, service of opinion: “FOR ME…”), and the maxims of the world (“My way”); a union of our will that causes us to embrace the divine will – which manifests itself through the Commandments of God and Laws of the Church, the will of our legitimate superiors (as long as it is not evil, not contrary to the Commandments of God and His irrevocable decrees, cf. our post “Obey God, rather than men,” not contrary to Catholic Faith and Morals), our “duty of the present moment”, all that affects the body (in health or sickness), and all that affects the soul (whether it be of joy or tribulation, of long or brief duration) – as our very own, a union of heart that prompts us to give ourselves to God as He has given Himself to us, My Beloved to me and I to him (Cant. 2.16); a union of activities that causes us to seek first and foremost the interests of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
Our holy father St. John of the Cross has explained all these means by which the soul is to be purified, scraped to the bottom in order to reach this summit of Calvary: this life of divine union. A program of total mortification is required to break all our bonds, for we have within us many obstacles which keep us from being entirely moved by God; and the accomplishment of this work is impossible without suffering. But active suffering, that is, the mortifications and penances inspired by our personal initiative or enjoined to us by the Holy Church, is not sufficient. We especially need passive suffering. In other words, the Lord Himself must ‘make us suffer’, not only in our body, but also in our soul, because we are so covered with rust, so full of miseries, that our total purification is not possible unless God Himself intervenes directly. To plunge us into passive suffering, is, therefore, one of His greatest works of mercy, a proof of His exceeding love.
When God acts in a soul this way, it is a sign that He wants to bring it to very high perfection. It is precisely in these passive purifying sufferings that the concept of the Cross is realized preeminently. In “The Living Flame of Love,” our holy father St. John of the Cross asks why there are so few souls who reach the plenitude of the spiritual life; and he answers: “It is not because God wants to reserve this state for a few privileged souls, but because He finds so few souls disposed to accept the hard task of purification.” These souls our holy father, in “The Ascent of Mt. Carmel,” likens to “children who kick and cry and struggle to walk by themselves when their mothers want to carry them.” Therefore, continues the eminent Doctor of Teresian Carmel in “The Living Flame of Love,” “He stops purifying them, and they condemn themselves to mediocrity and advance no farther.” It is impossible to become united to God without these spiritual sufferings, without bearing this ‘burden’ of God. Suffering and interior desolation alone enlarge the powers of the soul and make it capable of embracing God Himself.
“O souls that seek to walk in security and comfort in spiritual things! If you did but know how necessary it is to suffer and endure in order to reach this security!” (St. John of the Cross, “The Living Flame of Love”). Suffering is requisite not only of earthly love, not only for the good of the soul, but also that the soul may be able to glorify God and prove its love for Him. It is not a question of attaining perfection in order to enjoy it – for the perfect soul never thinks of self – but that the soul may be wholly dedicated to the glory of God. It is in this sense that we read on the summit of the “Mount of Perfection” [from the illustration made by St. John of the Cross in his “The Ascent of Mt. Carmel”]: “Only the honor and glory of God dwell on this mountain.” Even as the Cross of Jesus was for Him the great means of rendering to the Father the glory that sinful man had refused Him since the first Man joined Satan in his pride: “FOR ME… MY WAY,” so should it be in regard to our cross: by means of suffering, we should expiate and repair our sins and faults and the sins and faults of others, in order to give God all the glory due Him.
In addition, as the Cross of Jesus was the supreme proof of His love for us, our cross, too, should be the finest proof of our love for Him. The Son of God has revealed His infinite love for us by His most generous sacrifice of Himself on the Cross – down to the last drops of His Most Sacred and Precious Blood; in like manner, the reality of our love is made apparent by the generous acceptance of sufferings out of love for Him.
The more God sanctifies us, the more He proves His love for us and gives us the opportunity of glorifying Him; but He sanctifies us only by means of the Cross – the great Cross of Jesus Christ through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass [this, the New ‘Catholic Theology’ of Vatican II current in ‘modern’ seminaries frowns upon] to which we must unite our little crosses [this is true and authentic Catholic “participation”; not the Vatican II fad after the manner of the Lutherans and the ‘spirited’ Pentecostals!].
Our sanctification then is proportionate to our generous experience of the “burden” of Our Beloved. Sufferings are, even in this sense, a proof of God’s love for us.
And let us also contemplate Our Sorrowful Immaculate Mother at the foot of the Cross. The sight of our Blessed Mother makes this lesson of the Cross less hard and less bitter; Her maternal example encourages us to suffer and makes the road to Calvary easier. God, Who had given Her His greatest gift of this divine Son, asked, on Calvary, for a return of His gift, and Our Blessed Mother offered the very center of all the affections of Her Immaculate Heart and of Her whole life – Jesus Christ – to the Father with all the love of Her Heart, in complete adherence and abandonment to the loving and saving designs of God. If we understood all this, how we should love the Crucified and His Cross!
For God so loved the world, AS TO GIVE His only begotten Son… to be a propitiation for our sins (Jn. 3.16; 1 Jn. 4.10)