While taking a walk by yourself, or when you are alone at some other time, turn your eye to God’s will and see how he wills all the works of his mercy and justice, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Then with profound humility, accept, praise, and then bless this sovereign will, which is entirely holy, just, and beautiful.
Turn your eye next to God’s particular will, by which he loves his own and accomplishes in them different works of consolation and tribulation. Ponder this a while, as you consider not only the variety of his consolations, but above all the trials suffered by the good. Then, with great humility, accept, praise, and bless the whole of this will.
Finally, consider this will in your own person, in all that befalls you for good or ill, and in all that can happen to you, except sin. Then, accept, praise, and bless all this, and declare your intention always to honor, cherish, and adore this sovereign will, confiding to his mercy and giving him your own life and those of your loved ones.
Conclude with an act of great confidence in his will, believing that he will do everything for us and for our happiness. After having made this exercise two or three times, you can shorten or vary it as you find best, but you should frequently recall it by short aspirations.
We live in this world for one reason alone — to receive and to bear the sweet Jesus: on our tongues, by speaking of him; in our arms, by doing his good works; on our shoulders, by bearing his burden and his sufferings, both interior and exterior. O how happy are they who carry him gently and faithfully! I have truly carried him on my tongue every day. And I have carried him to Egypt, it seems to me, inasmuch as in the sacrament of confession I have heard a great number of penitents who with great confidence have addressed themselves to me in order to receive him into their sinful souls. Oh, may it please God to wish to remain there!
There is but one great word of our salvation: Jesus! May we be able, at least once, to say this sacred name with all our heart. What a balm it pours out upon all of the powers of our soul. How happy we shall be to have nothing in our understanding but Jesus, nothing in our memory but Jesus, nothing in our will but Jesus, nothing in our imagination but Jesus. Jesus will be everywhere in us, and we will be all in him. Let us attempt it by saying his name as often as we can. Although we can but stutter now, in the end we shall say it well.
Bearing Our Crosses
Nothing can bring us a more profound peace in this world than to look upon our Lord in all the afflictions that befell him from his birth to his death. In his life we see so much calumny, poverty, dependence, pain, torment, injury, and every sort of bitterness that, in reflecting on them, we see that we are wrong to call our little trials afflictions and pains and to think that we need more patience in order to endure them, inasmuch as a little drop of modesty is all we really need to enable us to bear with what happens to us. Your soul has all these movements of sadness, astonishment, and anxiety because it is not yet sufficiently grounded in the love of the Cross and in resignation to God’s will.
A heart that greatly respects and loves Jesus Christ crucified loves his death, pain, torment, insults, hunger, thirst, and shame, and, when some small participation in them comes, such a heart rejoices and embraces it lovingly. Every day you should bring to mind the sufferings our Lord endured for our redemption — not while at prayer, but at another time, such as when taking a walk — and consider how good it is for you to participate in them. Find out how to do so, that is, how to frustrate your desires, and especially your most just and legitimate desires; and then, with a great love for the Passion and Cross of our Lord, cry out with St. Andrew, “O blessed Cross, so beloved to my Savior, when will you receive me in your arms?”
Editor’s note: This article is adapted from chapters in St. Francis de Sales’ Roses Among Thorns, which is available from Sophia Institute Press. You can find other books authored by the great saint through Sophia Institute Press and Catholic Exchange, as well.