Saint John Vianney on Finding Sanctity in our Daily Crosses September 22, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, reading, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.
A couple of excerpts from The Sermons of the Cure of Ars, on how to practice sanctity on a daily basis, and finding joy in suffering. There was a time when at least observant Catholics would have no compunction at crossing themselves in public, or stopping what they were doing to pray when the Angelus bell was run. I can’t imagine how beautiful it would be to live in a place that is sufficiently Catholic and devoted, to have towns built within earshot of a church, and to have everyone stop and pray at the appropriate times. I don’t know if that was ever much the case in this country, being so spread out and with huge intermixed populations (maybe in the old Irish and Italian ghettos?), but it was in Europe and other places.
I think there is a lot of good in these excerpts. I have people ask me frequently how they can witness to the Faith. One simple way is to say grace in public before meals. Another is to go around always praying when not doing something that really preoccupies you. I have a Rosary in my hand much of the time in public.
Before beginning your work, my dear brethren, never fail to make the Sign of the Cross. Do not imitate those people without religion who dare not to do this because they are in company. Offer quite simply all your difficulties to God and renew from time to time this offering, for by that means you will have the happiness of drawing down the blessing of Heaven on yourself and on all you do. Just think, my dear brethren, how many acts of virtue you can practice by behaving in this way, without making any change in what you are actually doing. If you work with the object of pleasing God and obeying His Commandments, which order you to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow, that is an act of obedience. If you want to expiate your sins, you are making an act of penance. If you want to obtain some Grace for yourself or for others, it is an act of hope and of charity. [These last two sentences are such incredibly beautiful thoughts. Do not overlook the good that you do in you pious hopes and devout aspirations!] Oh, how we could merit Heaven every day, by dear brethren, by doing just our ordinary duties, but by doing them for God and the salvation of our souls! Who stops you, when you hear the chimes striking, from thinking on the shortness of time and of saying in your minds: “Time passes and death comes closer. I am hastening towards eternity. Am I really ready to appear before the tribunal of God? Am I not in a state of sin?”………
…….The Saints, my dear brethren, all loved the Cross and found in it their strength and their consolation.
But, you will say to me, is it necessary, then, always to have something to suffer?……….Now sickness or poverty, or again, scandal or calumny, or possibly the loss of money or an infirmity?
Have you been calumniated, dear friends? Have you been loaded with insults? Have you been wronged? So much the better! That is a good sign; do not worry; you are on the road that leads to Heaven. Do you know when you ought to be really upset? I do not know if you understand it, but it should be precisely for the opposite reason – when you have nothing to endure, when everyone esteems and respects you. Then you should feel envious of those who have the happiness of passing their lives in suffering, or contempt, or poverty. Are you forgetting, then, that at your Baptism you accepted the Cross, which you must never abandon until death, and that it is the key that you will use to open the door of Heaven? Are you forgetting the words of our Savior: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Not for a day, not for a week, not for a year, but all our lives. The Saints had a great fear of passing any time without suffering, for they looked upon it as time lost. According to St. Teresa, man is only in this world to suffer, and when he ceases to suffer, he should cease to live. St. John of the Cross asks God, with tears, to give him the grace to suffer more as a reward for all his labors.
What should we conclude, my dear children, from all that? Just this: Let us make a resolution to have a great respect for all the crosses, which are blessed, and which represent to us in a small way all that our God suffered for us. Let us recall that from the Cross flow all the graces that are bestowed upon us and that as a consequence, a cross which is blessed is a source of blessings, that we should often make the Sign of the Cross on ourselves and always with great respect, and, finally, that our houses should never remain without this symbol of salvation.
Fill your children, my dear brethren, with the greatest respect for the Cross, and always have a blessed cross on yourselves; it will protect you against the devil, from the vengeance of Heaven, and from all danger. This is what I desire for you.
The Catholic embrace of suffering has always been one of the aspects of the Faith that has most scandalized, even enraged, the world. Worldly people cannot comprehend what good there could be in joyfully willed suffering. As so much of Western society has become so rich, so addled with constant comfort, so used to having every whim satisfied at the flip of a switch, the notion of desiring suffering has gone from being alien and strange to perverse and offensive. Just the other day, I saw an evangelical protestant “Catholic outreach” site that used images of pious souls doing things like processing on their knees or wearing a cilice as a demonstration of the perversity of the Catholic Faith. After all, protestant divines have declared that faith alone is necessary for salvation, even if James ii:24 and Matthew xxv:31-46 totally contradict this.
Unfortunately, protestantism told the world exactly what it wanted to hear: salvation without works, Heaven without suffering! No wonder it has proven such a persistent heresy (in its always metastasizing forms).
But I’m wandering a bit from the purpose of the post. I pray you found it edifying.