Chapter X
Love Beareth all Things


The Crucifixion - by KONRAD von Soest - from Parish Church, Bad Wildungen

This scene-of Golgotha, depicted-in the Central Panel of the Wildungen Altarpiece, is Populated-by small Groups-of People. In the Foreground, Three (3) Holy Women (the Three Maries) 'Surround' the Figure-of the Virgin, who has 'Collapsed'. They are not Crushed-by Savage Despair, but rather, 'Seized'-with Gentle, Languid Sorrow. Indeed, the whole-Representation is Characterized-by a Soft, Lyrical Mood, rather-than by Dramatic Qualities, the only Exception being Saint John, who, Standing-behind the Maries, Raises his hands, Passionately. But his Figure 'Remains' Isolated, and his Lamentations do not 'Elicit' an Echo, from any of the other Characters. On the Right, Roman Officers, 'Dressed' in the Gorgeous and Bizarre Apparel-of Medieval Knights, are Talking-about the Crucifixion as an Event, that Took-place in the Recent Past, but not in the Present. They Pay Attention-to one another, rather than to-Christ. Pilate 'Wears' a Crown, and holds a Long Staff, and gives special-Stress to his Words, by 'Pointing'-upwards with his Forefinger, as he Tries-to Convince the Knight-in a Red Cloak, about the Divinity-of the Crucified Man. Holding an Inscribed Scroll, in his 'Lifted' Right-hand, the Centurion, with the Red Helmet, is similarly Attempting-to Convince the Nobleman beside him. As-far-as the Composition is Concerned, the Scroll 'Inscribed'-with the Words "He was the Son-of-God, Indeed", Provides an Equilibrium-with the Two (2) Figures, on the other Side-of the Cross. They are Longinus and his Page, who, with an Elegant Gesture, 'Directs' the Spear-of the Blind Old Man, to Christ's Heart. Konrad-von-Soest, did not Emphasize the Dramatic Element in this Instance either, since the Figure-of-Longinus, is already Surrounded-by an Aura-of-Conversion. (According to the Legend, he was Converted only after the Stab-of the Lance). Their Figures are Echoed-by Two (2) others, who are just Arriving-on the Left-hand Edge-of the Picture. While they were just Taking-a-Walk, the Two (2) Men seem to have been Stopped, by the Sight-of the Three (3) Crosses, and have 'Diverted their Talk, from its Original Subject. Their Figures are meant-to Point-out that such Scenes were Everyday Occurrences; for them the Crucifixion-of Christ and the Thieves, is nothing but one of the Series-of Executions that Took-place every-day, in the Roman Empire. A similar Role is given-to the Three (3) Inquisitive Men, on the Right-hand edge, of the Composition. The Figure-of the Peasant 'Holding' an Axe, is particularly Fascinating. He is a simple Man, afraid-of Dying; his Features seem to-Reflect those of the Unrepentant Thief.

 

Jesus Christ Died in-Battle, for us

Greater Love than this, no Man hath,
that a Man lay-down his Life, for his Friends.
(John 15:13 - Douay Rheims Bible)

Maiorem hac dilectionem nemo habet
ut animam suam quis ponat pro amicis suis.
(John 15:13 - Latin Vulgate Bible)

 

Some People make Perfection, Consist-in an Austere Life;
others in Prayer; others in Frequenting the Sacraments;
others in Almsgiving. But they Deceive themselves:
Perfect Sanctity consists-in Loving God with our Whole Heart.
Jesus Deserves our Love, because-of the Love He has Shown us,
in His Passion and Death.

 

Nota Bene: Bible Verses quoted-in this Book are from the English Douay-Rheims Translation, commissioned-by the Catholic Church.

 

Chapter X
Love Beareth all Things

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Chapter One 'Treated' the Virtue-of-Patience, in-General. This Chapter 'Treats' it in-Particular; its Necessity

in Time-of Sickness,
in the Grip-of Poverty, and
in the Face-of Persecution.

Those who Truly Love Jesus Christ, 'Bear' all Things, especially in these Three (3) Areas. And the Virtue which 'Sustains' them in their Efforts, is that of-Patience.

 

Patience in Sickness

"If we only knew what a Treasure, Sickness could Bring, we would Accept it with Joy, as the Greatest Possible Blessing". Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, who 'Spoke' these Words, Suffered Terribly, Night and Day, but he 'Accepted' it with such Peace, that no one 'Guessed' anything Bothered him. And, when Saint-Francis-de-Sales was Ill, he simply 'Explained' his Symptoms to the Physician, 'Obeyed' him by following his Prescriptions exactly, and Remained-in Peace, never 'Voicing' a single Complaint, about his Sufferings.

What a Contrast is this, to those who do Nothing but Complain-about even the smallest Ailment, and who 'Expect' everyone to 'Sympathize' with them. How different was the Instruction, Saint Teresa gave to her Companions: "Sisters, Learn to Suffer for the Love of Jesus Christ, without Broadcasting it, to the World".

Those who are Sick, sometimes Complain: "It is not so much the Sickness itself, that Bothers me, as it is my own Inability to Attend Mass and Receive Communion. I cannot Recite the Divine Office with my Community. I cannot Celebrate Mass. I cannot Pray, because my Head is Throbbing with Pain". But why do these Persons want to-go-to the Church, or to the Chapel? Is it to-Please God? Don't they know that it is God's Wish, that they Patiently 'Remain' in-Bed, and Suffer their Illness at the Present Time? Are they Upset on-'Hearing' this? Then, they are 'Seeking' not what is God's Pleasure, but their own!

And as for those who say that they are Unable to-Pray, because their Head Throbs, so be it. They cannot Meditate, but why can't they 'Resign' themselves to the Will-of-God? They can 'Make' no-better Prayer, than to 'Embrace' with Love, the Suffering that they must 'Endure'. They say they cannot Pray, but what more Beautiful Prayer, than to 'Look' on the Crucified Lord, and 'Offer' Him their Pain, Uniting (1) the Little that they 'Endure', with the Overwhelming Agony, that He 'Endured'-on the Cross!

Above all, in Time-of Sickness, we should Prepare-for Death. We must be Ready-to 'Accept' the Kind-of Death, that God has 'Appointed'-for us. Because-of Human Frailty, we cannot Live-in the World, without 'Committing' at-least Venial Sins; this should 'Motivate' us to-'Embrace' Death Willingly, that we may never Offend God any-more.

 

Patience in Poverty

Our Patience is certainly Tried, when we are in Need-of Temporal Goods. Saint Augustine said: "One who has not God, has Nothing; One who has God, has All". The Poor, are those who have Nothing; but those who have Nothing, and are Content-with their Poverty, are, in fact, very Rich. Saint Paul referred-to such in 2Corinthians 6:10: "As Sorrowful, yet always Rejoicing; as Needy, yet Enriching many; as having Nothing, and Possessing all things". The Saints not only 'Practiced' Patience in Poverty, they also Tried-to-Become even Poorer, so that they could become 'Detached'-from everything, except God.

If we do not have enough Courage, to 'Turn' our Backs completely-on Temporal Goods, at least we should be Satisfied-with the State-of-Life in-which God 'Places' us. Be convinced-of what Saint Teresa says: "The less we have Here, the more we shall have There".

Our Lord Himself said: "Blessed are the Poor-in-Spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom-of-Heaven" - Matthew 5:3. In the other Beatitudes, Joy in the Life-to-Come, is Promised-to the Meek, and to the Clean-of-Heart. But to the Poor, Joy is 'Promised' even in This-Life: "The Reign-of-God is theirs". Yes, for even in This-Life, the Poor 'Experience' a Foretaste-of Heaven.

The Poor-in-Spirit are not those who merely Lack Material Goods, but those who do not-even 'Desire' them. "But having Food, and wherewith to be Covered, with these we are Content" - 1Timothy 6:8.

We should be Content-with the Things God 'Gives' us, Rejoicing-in our Poverty, when we Lack something we 'Desire', and 'Have' it not; for in-this, Lies our Merit. "Not Poverty", says Saint Bernard, "but the Love of Poverty, is considered a Virtue". Many are Poor, but because they never 'Learn' to-Love their Poverty, they Merit Nothing.

This Love-of Poverty, should be a Special Characteristic-of Religious, who have 'Made' a Vow-of-Poverty. Some say that they want-to be Poor, but only on the Condition-that they Lack nothing. "It seems", says Saint-Francis-de-Sales, "they want the Honor-of Poverty, but not the Inconvenience-of Poverty". Good Religious, 'Respond' differently; they Love their Poverty, more-than any Possible Riches.

The Loss-of Friends and Relatives by-Death, can also, to a Certain Extent, be considered an Occasion-of Practicing Poverty. Some People, when they Lose a Relative or Friend, find no-Rest. They Shut themselves up in a Room, to Weep and Surrender-to their Sorrow, 'Causing' everyone around them, increased Distress. But for whose Sake, do they 'Shed' these Tears? Is it for God? Certainly not! God's Will is that they 'Practice' Resignation-to His Will. Is it for the Departed Soul? By no means! Lost Souls 'Hate' everyone; and Saved Souls, want everyone to 'Thank' God for their Salvation. Souls in Purgatory need Prayers, not Tears. Of what use, then, is all this Weeping? What is Needed, above all, is Patience in Poverty.

 

Patience Under Persecution

We must also 'Practice' Patience, and 'Prove' our Love for God, by 'Serenely Enduring' Persecution.

Once we 'Give' ourselves to Him, God 'Sends' us - on His Own or through-Others - Insult and Persecution. Saint Teresa 'Wrote' this very Wise Maxim: "One who Desires Holiness, must be Careful never to say: 'They have no-Reason to Treat me like that'. If you will not Bear any Cross that is not Reasonable, then Holiness is not for you".

In fact, Insults, Poverty, and any Form-of Trial, only 'Draw' further-from God, those who do not Love Him. But, when they 'Happen'-to those who Love God, they 'Draw' them closer-to Him, and Increase the Ardor-of their Love. "Many Waters cannot Quench Love, neither can the Floods, Drown it: if a Man should give all the Substance-of his House for Love, he shall Despise it as Nothing" - Songs 8:7.

But why does Almighty God 'Allow' us to be so Persecuted, by the World? Is He some Sort-of Tyrant, who 'Rejoices' in our Suffering? No! God is by no-means, a Tyrant; He is Full-of Compassion and Love for us. It is enough to 'Say', that He has Died for us. He 'Rejoices' in our Patience, because it Adds-to our Glory in-Heaven.

God's Holy Martyr's, in Adoration-of the Lamb -
From the Van Eyck Ghent-Altarpiece
(Click to enlarge)

 

If, then, we are to 'Practice' Patience, in all our Trials, we must be completely 'Convinced', that every Cross 'Comes'-from the Hand-of-God, either Directly or Indirectly. We must, therefore, 'Thank' God, whenever we are 'Beset' with Sorrow, and we must 'Accept', in all Serenity, every-Event that Befalls us. "And we know that to them that Love God, all things Work-together unto Good, to such as, according to His Purpose, are called to be Saints" - Romans 8:28. But, above all, Prayer, by-which we 'Gain' the Help-of-God, is the Great Means to-Suffer with-Patience, any Trial we must 'Endure'. The Saints knew this, and so they 'Overcame' every Conceivable kind-of Torment and Persecution.

 

 

 

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"O my God, make me a Saint"
Saint Alphonsus Mary Liguori

 

Prayer

"Become not Slothful, but Followers-of them, who through Faith and Patience, shall Inherit the Promises" - Hebrews 6:12. Lord, You are the Source-of my Patience in Suffering. I make so many Resolutions to-accept Difficulties in Peace; but as-soon-as they Come, I become Moody and Afraid. If I do Suffer, I Suffer without Love, because I do not know how to-Embrace Your Will, in Suffering.

Jesus, through the Merits of Your Patience, in Suffering-for Love-of me, Grant me the Grace to Bear my Crosses, out of Love for You.

Mary, my Queen, Teach me Resignation, as I Face the Trials-of-Life.

Amen