St. Francis de Sales said, “Kiss frequently the crosses which the Lord sends you, and with all your heart, without regarding of what sort they may be; for the more vile and mean they are, the more they deserve their name. The merit of crosses does not consist in their weight, but in the manner in which they are borne.
“It may show much greater virtue to bear a cross of straw than a very hard and heavy one, because the light ones are also the most hidden and contemned, and therefore least comfortable to our inclination, which always seeks what is showy.”
The saint urges us not to limit our patience to this or that kind of injury or trouble, but to let our patience embrace every sort of trial that God sends, or permits to come upon us.
St. Teresa of Avila said, “Observe that we gain more in a single day by trials which come to us from God and our neighbour than we would in 10 years by penances and other exercises which we take up of ourselves.”
Won by patience
As a young priest, St. Francis de Sales started an expedition to Thonon-les-Bains, France, to convert non-Catholic Christians back to Catholicism.
After three difficult years there was not even one convert, but St. Francis was an unusually patient man. He wrote out his leaflets, copied them by hand, and slipped them under the doors of the people who would not listen to him. These leaflets were later published in one volume called The Catholic Controversy.
St. Francis won the hearts of the people gradually with his patience and kindness. The parents would not come to St. Francis, so he came to their children and played with them. When the parents saw how kind he was as he played with their children, they started to talk to him.
Eventually more and more people came to St. Francis to listen to his sermons, and conversions became increasingly frequent. By the time he left Thonon-les-Bains, St. Francis had brought 40,000 people back to Catholicism.
Value of suffering
St. Vincent de Paul said, “If we could but know what a precious treasure lies concealed in infirmities, we would receive them with as much joy as we would the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without complaint or any sign of annoyance.”
During a mystical experience, St. Rose of Lima saw a set of scales. One side of the scales had sufferings, and the other side of the scales had graces. Our Lord first distributed sufferings to all people, and then He distributed graces to them in the same proportion as the sufferings.
Our Lord said, “Affliction is always accompanied by grace; grace is proportionate to suffering. The measure of My gifts is increased with the measure of trials. The cross is the true and only road that leads souls to heaven.”
During her long illness, St. Rose prayed, “Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart.”
St. Vincent Ferrer said, “The Lord sends us tribulation and infirmities to give us the means of paying the immense debts we have contracted with Him. Therefore, those who have good sense receive them joyfully, for they think more of the good which they may derive from them than of the pain which they experience on account of them.”
Our Lord told St. Gertrude: “My daughter, you will never be able to do Me a greater service at any time than bearing patiently, in honour of my Passion, whatever tribulation may come to you, whether it be interior or exterior, always forcing yourself to do all those things that are most contrary to your desires.”