There are certain loved ones in my life that do not like the Catholic Faith because they do not like its take on the cross. They feel that if they embrace the Faith wholeheartedly, a Faith that has its emphasis on the merits of suffering, their lives will be nothing but misery.
These same dear people suffer much in their lives. Suffering is a part of their life, as it is with us all, and yet they are gaining nothing from it. They could be offering these sorrows for their own salvation and that of others and yet the suffering lands on barren ground.
They also fight it all the way which only increases their sufferings.
And I say to myself, “Why do they not see it?”
As the article states, “It is proper to the devil to create trouble and excitement and to shroud the mind in darkness: whereas it belongs to God to shed light, and with understanding to teach us what we need to know.”
Shall I be happy, if I am good? I know I should be happy in heaven, but that seems a long way off.
Shall I be happy on earth? I ask the question with some anxiety, because I hear a great deal about carrying the cross; and I cannot conceive how anyone can carry the cross and be happy.
Carrying the cross means, I suppose, making oneself miserable. Now, though I should like to be good, I have no mind to make myself miserable. What am I to do?
I’m to put out of my head forever the notion that carrying the cross means making oneself miserable. There is one indeed who, if I try to be good, will do everything in his power to make me miserable. That is my enemy, the devil, whom St. Peter bids me to resist strong in faith (1Peter:9).
St. Chrysostom says that a Christian resists thoughts of impurity, so he should resist thoughts of sadness: indeed the one often leads to the other.
And St. Ignatius : “It is proper to the evil spirit to sting, to sadden, to put obstacles in the way, making the soul restless by false reasoning to prevent its getting on. And it is proper to the good spirit to give courage and strength, consolation and rest of soul, making things easy and removing all obstacles, that the soul may go on further in doing good.”
And St. John Chrysostom again: “It is proper to the devil to create trouble and excitement and to shroud the mind in darkness: whereas it belongs to God to shed light, and with understanding to teach us what we need to know.”
In short, there are two crosses, our Lord’s cross and the devil’s cross. Our Lord’s cross consists of the labors of my state, and the pain and sorrow that go with labor, of whatever sort it be, as God said in the beginning to Adam: in the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat thy bread: thorns and briars shall the earth bear to thee (Genesis 3. 18, 19).
This cross I must submit to be nailed to, and never come down till death releases me, never abdicate, never resign.
The devil’s cross consists of feelings of wretchedness, black discontent, irritation, complaining, downheartedness, and misery – as it were whiffs from the cloud that envelops Satan in internal despair. This cross I must fling far from me.
There is no virtue in long faces, even when pious people pull them.
To carry Christ’s cross manfully one should be reluctant to avow that one has got any great weight of it on one’s shoulder.
Let me take an example: The case of a young man or of a young woman at college.
A frequent cross with youth is the cross of examinations. I was going to add “in uncongenial matter”; but somehow nearly everything that one is examined in, and has to plod through during months of preparation, comes to be felt as uncongenial matter.
Here are two wrong things to do, and one right thing. The first wrong thing is to refuse the examination, get oneself let off, or get oneself off by seizing to study. That is like resigning a burdensome office in later life, usually a mistake. It is slinging Christ’s cross away.
The second wrong thing is to go on studying, making oneself miserable all the while with lamentations about the disagreeableness of the task and the prospects of failure. That is adding to Christ’s cross Satan’s cross, and may likely end in casting off both, quod erat faciendum, in Satan’s plan.
The one right thing is to work hard, serenely and faithfully, day by day, doing all one can, and committing results to God.
The moral is this: The cross of sadness should always be got rid of by a Christian, so far as ever he is able to shake it off: but the cross of arduous and at times disagreeable employment should be held on to and cheerfully borne.