St Francis de Sales is one of the soundest teachers of practical spirituality. His insights are so beautifully expressed that they can abide in your mind for those times, good and bad, when they are of most help. Here is another of his more famous meditations, apt for times of trial:
The everlasting God has, in His wisdom, foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you.
He has blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.
To be a Christian always requires obedience at certain times to Christ’s teaching, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). For all that the cross is inevitable in the life of a Christian who truly seeks God, nevertheless God never allows us to be tried beyond our strength. If we do feel a particular cross to heavy to bear, a trial too overwhelming to endure, we must remind ourselves of St Francis de Sales’ words. When we experience a particular cross we can be sure that we can bear it whatever we might feel, otherwise God would not have allowed it to come upon us. This is what it is to deny oneself when it comes to the crunch: to move beyond our feelings and trust in God’s promises.
Our trust can be expressed in even the smallest cry for help. It is that small cry that God might be waiting to hear, so that He knows we are ready to receive his grace fruitfully and not in vain. And always when we have carried our small crosses, which share in the great Cross of Christ, we can be sure that we are that little bit stronger, and that little bit closer to Christ. We should never fail to offer our crosses with Christ offered on his Cross at Mass, for then truly we are becoming one with Christ. Being one with Christ is the heart of life in the Church and the essence of life in heaven. All of which means that when we are carrying our little crosses, Christ still carries his Cross in us, for us and our salvation. After the Cross comes the resurrection.
So let’s never be afraid of that old rugged Cross. It is indeed “an alms from the all-merciful love of God”.