20140210 ‘Take up your cross’ 「背負十字架」

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.”

聖方濟.沙雷說:「常衷心親吻天主賞給你的十字架,別理會那是怎麼樣的十字架、又是多麼的惡劣或卑下,因為那才堪稱為十字架!背負十字架之功,不在乎其是否沉重,卻在於背負的心態。背負乾禾做的十字架,可能比背負實木做的更具靈益,因輕盈的十字架仍是最隱藏和受人輕視的,因此也是最不乎合我們那尋求彰顯的人性傾向。」

 

聖人告誡:我們不應對十字架有選擇性的含忍,要擁抱天主允許下賦予任何種類或輕或重的十字架。

 

聖女大德蘭說過:「我們藉忍受一日從天主和近人而來的考驗所得到的會比我們十年作自己選擇的補贖和神業還要多。」

 

含忍的凱歌

 

當聖方濟.沙雷還是一位年青的神父時,他自願到法國的沙伯來地區,企圖勸化基督教徒加入天主教。經過三年辛勞的嘗試,竟然得不到一個人皈依;但聖人並不氣餒,他筆寫手抄無數的傳單,逐家逐戶派發;而這些日積月累的傳單內容,被編輯成一冊書刊「天主教的辯証」。

 

因著他的含忍和良善,聖方濟漸得人心。對於那些不願聆聽講道的父母,他會先與他們的小孩一起嬉戲玩耍,讓他們注意到自己,吸引他們後來願意與他交談。最後,越來越多人願意靜聽聖人的講道,皈依越見成效。聖方濟.沙雷離開沙伯來教區時,皈依天主教的約有四萬之眾。

 

痛苦的價值

 

聖文生說:「假如我們知道疾苦中所隱藏的寶藏,便會如獲至寶般樂於接受,亦會無怨無悔地忍受如貽。」。

 

聖羅撒在一次神視中,看到一個平衡的天秤:一邊放著痛苦,另一邊放著聖寵。天主首先給人不同程度的痛苦,然後依照痛苦的分量賞給人聖寵。痛苦愈多的人,所得的聖寵也愈多。耶穌向她解釋說:「痛苦常有聖寵相伴,兩者相等。我的恩賜程度與試探程度同步和看齊。十字架是導往天堂真確而又必然的路途。」

在她的長期病榻上,聖羅撒禱告著:「天主,請增加我的痛苦,同時在我心內增加祢的愛!」

 

聖文生.斐瑞說:「天主給我們憂患痛苦,好讓我們能償還我們欠衪的巨大罪債。所以,那些有好意識的人,會喜悅地接受苦痛,因為他們多想到由苦痛所得到的善,較於所受到的痛苦。」

 

吾主對聖潔茹道:「我的女兒,你時常所能給我最大的服務就,是為恭敬我的苦難,忍耐地承受內外的困苦,時常迫自己作相反你渴望的事。」

 

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