The storm of persecution is good. What is the loss? What is already lost cannot be lost. When the tree is not torn up by the roots — and there is no wind or hurricane that can uproot the tree of the Church — only the dry branches fall. And they… are well fallen.
All right: that person has behaved badly towards you. But, haven't you behaved worse towards God?
Jesus: wherever you have passed no heart remains indifferent. You are either loved or hated.
When an apostle follows you, carrying out his duty, is it surprising that — if he is another Christ — he should arouse similar murmurs of aversion or of love?
Once again they have spoken, they have written: in favour, against; with good and with not so good will; faint praise and slander; panegyrics and plaudits; hits and misses…
Don't be a fool! As long as you are making straight for your goal, head and heart intoxicated with God, why worry about the voice of the wind, or the chirp of the cricket, or the mooing or the grunting or the braying?
Besides, it's inevitable; don't waste time answering back.
Tongues have been wagging and you have suffered rebuffs that hurt you all the more because you were not expecting them.
Your supernatural reaction should be to pardon, — and even to ask pardon, — and to take advantage of the experience to detach yourself from creatures.
When you meet with suffering, contempt, the Cross, your thought should be: what is this compared with what I deserve?
Are things going against you? Are you going through a rough time? Say very slowly, as if relishing it, this powerful and manly prayer:
'May the most just and most lovable will of God be done, be fulfilled be praised and eternally exalted above all things. Amen, Amen.'
I assure you that you will find peace.
You suffer in this present life, which is a dream, a short dream. Rejoice, because your Father-God loves you so much, and if you put no obstacles in his way, after this bad dream he will give you a good awakening.
It hurt you not to have been thanked for that favour. Answer me these two questions: Are you so grateful towards Christ Jesus? Did you actually do that favour in the hope of being thanked for it on earth?
I don't know why you're amazed: Christ's enemies were never very reasonable.
When Lazarus was raised from the dead, they might have been expected to give in and confess the divinity of Jesus. But no! 'Let us kill him who gives life', they said!
And now, as then.
In the moments of struggle and opposition, when perhaps 'the good' fill your way with obstacles, lift up your apostolic heart: listen to Jesus as he speaks of the grain of mustard-seed and of the leaven. And say to him: 'Explain the parable to me.'
And you will feel the joy of contemplating the victory to come: the birds of the air lodging in the branches of your apostolate, now only in its beginnings, and the whole of the meal leavened.
If you accept difficulties with a faint heart you lose your joy and your peace, and you run the risk of not deriving spiritual profit from the trial.
Outside events have placed you in voluntary confinement, worse perhaps, because of its circumstances, than the confinement of a prison. You have suffered an eclipse of your personality.
On all sides you feel yourself hemmed in: selfishness, curiosity, misunderstanding, people talking behind your back. All right: so what? Have you forgotten your free-will and that power of yours as a 'child'? The absence of flowers and leaves (external action) does not exclude the growth and activity of the roots (interior life).
Work: things will change, and you will yield more fruit than before, and sweeter too.
So you have been hauled over the coals? Don't follow the advice of pride and lose your temper. Say to yourself: how charitable they are towards me! When I think of all they must have left unsaid!…
Cross, toil, anguish: such will be your lot as long as you live. That was the way Christ went, and the disciple is not above his Master.
Agreed: there is a lot of pressure from outside and that excuses you in part. But there is also complicity within — take a good look — and there I see no excuse.
Have you not heard the Master himself tell the parable of the vine and the branches? Here you can find consolation. He demands much of you, for you are the branch that bears fruit. And he must prune you 'to make you bear more fruit'.
Of course: that cutting, that pruning hurts. But, afterwards, what richness in your fruits, what maturity in your actions.
You are worried. Listen: happen what may in your interior life or in the world that surrounds you, never forget that the importance of events or of people is very relative. Take things calmly; let time pass; and then, as you view persons and happenings dispassionately and from afar, you will acquire the perspective that will enable you to see each thing in its proper place and in its true size.
If you do this, you will be more objective and you will spare yourself many causes of anxiety.
A bad night, in a bad inn. That is how Saint Teresa of Jesus is said to have defined this earthly life. It's a good comparison, isn't it?
A visit to a well-known monastery. That foreign lady was moved to pity as she considered the poverty of the building: 'You lead a very hard life, don't you?' The monk's satisfaction was as obvious as his
reply was short! He seemed to be speaking to himself. 'You wanted it, brother, and you got it. Now it's up to you to keep it.'
These words, which I joyously heard that holy man say, I can only repeat to you with sorrow when you tell me that you are not happy.
Worry? Never! For to do so is to lose one's peace.
Physical collapse. You are worn out. Rest. Stop that exterior activity. Consult a doctor. Obey, and don't worry.
You will soon return to your normal life and, if you are faithful, to new intensity in your apostolate.