“Behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the salvation of the world!” So sings the holy Church on Good Friday. In the cross is our salvation, our strength against temptations, our detachment from early pleasures; in the cross is found the true love of God. We must, therefore, resolve to bear with patience that cross which Jesus Christ sends us. . . . There is no other way to enter heaven but to resign ourselves to tribulations until death. And thus may we find peace, even in suffering. When the cross comes, what means is there for not loving peace, except the uniting of ourselves to the divine will? If we do not take this means, let us go where we will, let us do what we may, we shall never fly from the weight of the cross. On the other hand, if we carry it with good-will, it will bear us to heaven, and give us peace upon earth.
What does he gain who refuses the cross? He increases its weight. But he who embraces it, and bears it with patience, lightens its weight, and the weight itself becomes a consolation; for God abounds with grace to all those who carry the cross with good-will in order to please him. By the law of nature there is no pleasure in suffering; but divine love, when it reigns in a heart, makes it take delight in its sufferings.
If we are sinners and have deserved hell, this should be our comfort in the tribulations which befall us, that we should be chastised in this life; because this is the sure sign that God will deliver us from eternal chastisement. Miserable is that sinner who prospers in this world! Who ever suffers a bitter trial, let him cast a glance at the hell which he has deserved, and thus the pains he endures will seem light. If, then, we have committed sins, this ought to be our continual prayer to God, “O Lord, spare not pains, but give me, I pray Thee, strength to endure them with patience, that I may not oppose myself to Thy holy will. I will not oppose the words of the Holy One; in everything I unite myself to that which Thou wilt appoint for me, saying always, with Jesus Christ, Even so, Father; for so hath it seemed good to Thee [Matt 11:26].
He that loves God despises and renounces everything that does not help him to love God; and in all the good works that he does, in his penitential acts and his labors for the glory of God, he seeks not consolations and sweetnesses of spirit; it is enough for him to know that he pleases God.
Whenever the weight of any cross seems very heavy, let us immediately have recourse to prayer, and God will give us strength to endure it meritoriously. And let us then recollect what St. Paul said, that no tribulation of this world, however grievous it may be, can be compared with the glory which God prepares for us in the world to come [Rom 8:18].
O my Jesus! how comforting is that which Thou sayest to me, Turn unto Me, and I will turn to you [Zech 1:3]. . . . Receive me, then, into Thy grace; make me know the great good that Thou art, and the love that Thou hast borne to me, that I may no more leave Thee. O my Jesus! pardon me; O my beloved! pardon me the offences I have committed against Thee. Give me the love of Thee, and then do with me what Thou wilt. Chastise me as much as Thou wilt; deprive me of everything, but deprive me not of Thyself. Were the whole world to come and offer me all its blessings, I declare that I desire Thee alone, and nothing more. O my Mother! recommend me to thy Son–he giveth thee whatever thou askest; in thee I trust.
Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).