The Passion and the Trials of the Soul

Remember that true holiness is accompanied by pains and tribulations from within and without, by attacks of visible and invisible enemies, by trials of body and mind, by desolations and prolonged aridities; "and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12) - that is to say, all sorts of trials from demons, from men, and from our rebellious flesh.

Be generous, and remember that you ought to walk in the footsteps of your Redeemer.

We must not serve God for the sake of His consolations, but because He is worthy of being served.

God usually deprives His servants, for a time, of all consolation, that they may learn to serve Him through pure love, and become truly faithful servants. He deprives them of spiritual delights, even on the most solemn occasions, to test their faith and fidelity.

Sursum corda, then; let us lift up our hearts and generously serve our great God and Our Lord Jesus in faith and pure love. Amen.

My trials are great! However, "although God should kill me, I will trust in Him." (Job 13:15) What ought a poor shipwrecked person do when in the midst of furious billows and on the point of being engulfed? I have no other resource left but to turn my eyes to the Lord.

I find myself threatened by new combats. Storms succeed each other, darkness increases, fears do not vanish, demons harass me, men slander me, combats within, fears without, darkness, coldness, tepidity, desolation. What can one do in the midst of so many dangers? Ah! death is more desirable than life. Yes, if such is the will of God, may the door of a blessed eternity open to me! I know not which way to turn; however, I have faith and confidence that God will accomplish His work in a wonderful way.

Everybody is against us. I rejoice in this, for God will be more favorable to us. If we be faithful, God will not fail us.

One day, when the weather was extremely cold, I wished to make a fire. I went to the woods to pick up some dry branches, which had been exposed to the air for a long time. In a moment I had a big fire. Why? Because for a long time the wood had been exposed to the cold, the frost, the wind, and the sun, and had thus lost its dampness. So it is with us: if we wish our hearts to become inflamed with divine love, we must permit ourselves to be purified by suffering, humbly and resignedly, temptations, trials, persecutions, tribulations. Oh! being then well cleansed, divine love will possess us.

How happy is the soul who detaches herself from all pleasure, from all sentiment, from all self-opinionatedness! You will realize this happiness if you put all your satisfaction in the cross of Jesus; that is, if you die on the cross of your Saviour to all that is not God.

As for the aversion that people express for you, their mockeries, their derisions, and so forth, you should receive them with gratitude to God, for as oil is consumed by the flame, so ought charity consume its victim.

If you desire an efficacious remedy for trouble and inquietude of soul, invoke the holy name of Jesus.

One time I was stopping near the sea, engaged at a mission. In compliance with their request, I joined the fishermen in a fishing expedition. As the sea was very rough, they threw into it, from time to time, some drops of oil, and the waters became calm immediately, so that they had no trouble in catching the fish. When our mind is agitated as the sea during a storm, let us restore its calm by invoking the name of Jesus, of Whom it is said in the Canticle of Canticles "Thy name is as oil poured out." (Canticle 1:2)

Your soul needs a brief winter. The winter purifies the air and the earth of foul vapors; it even invigorates the human body. If it strips the trees of their leaves, it is only to the end that they take deeper roots. The spring comes afterwards, and clothes them again with verdure and blossoms.

Each degree of prayer presupposes a purification.

Be faithful in all your exercises of piety and virtue; be always resigned; be satisfied, in the superior part of your soul, to taste, without relish, the contentment of doing God's will. Thus after the winter the spring will come, with its flowers, and you will hear the voice of the turtle in this land. (Canticle 2:12)

In all your trials, arm yourself with faith, confidence in God, and deep humility of heart. Reiterate your commands to Satan; order him, in the name of Jesus Christ, to depart and betake himself to the place that God, on account of his pride, has assigned for him. Fear nothing.

Temptations are excellent signs; and the pain they occasion you is as a fire which will purify you and prepare you better and better for union with God.

When you feel an impulse of passion or anger rising within yourself, then is the moment for silence. Jesus was silent in the midst of His trials. O sacred silence, how rich thou art in virtues! O holy silence! thou art the golden key which unlocks the grand treasury of virtues!

God created the fish dumb because they are to live in the waters. By this He teaches us that he who lives amid the tempests of this world ought to be mute, as if he had no tongue, never complaining or justifying himself.

God, in permitting you to have this trial, wishes you to die mystically to all but Himself. He wishes you to consider yourself as dead; to have, as it were, neither tongue, nor eyes, nor ears. As you crush under your foot the crawling worm, so let yourself be trampled upon by everybody; let yourself be the despised and the outcast of the people, as if you were dead and buried.

I learn with joy that your confessor treats you rigorously, that he is hard and severe. Oh, what an excellent friend he is to you! It is now that God will put the last touch to the statue in order to embellish it and render it worthy of heaven; therefore He permits him, who ought to encourage you, to use the finest and sharpest tools. Oh, what a noble work! Beg God not to deprive you of that instrument until the work that He wishes to effect in you be accomplished. Do not be troubled by the annoyances and fears that your confessor occasions you. Listen to him with deep humility, simplicity, and silence.

When he dismisses you, retire in peace and at once send up some tender sighs to God: "O Father! O my good Father!" Tell Him of the trouble, the anguish, and the inquietude that your confessor's words give you. Immediately your soul will be sweetly drawn into the depths of that divine solitude where the soul is absorbed in God. Your anguish, your fears, your scruples, will be consumed in the furnace of divine love. Repose there, and if your divine Spouse invite you to sleep, sleep in peace, and do not awaken without His permission. This holy sleep is a heritage which our heavenly Father gives to His well-loved children: it is a sleep of faith and love wherein we learn the science of the saints, and during which the bitterness of adversities is dissipated.

You do wrong to complain of your crosses and sufferings. Believe me, you know not what it is to suffer.

God preserve you from suffering even one day what has been endured by a certain soul, whose name I must not disclose!

In my opinion, you ought not lay so much stress on your little trials, your spiritual darkness and dryness. When we truly and sincerely love God, we regard as little that which we suffer for our divine Lover.

If you believe that you suffer much, it is an evidence that you have very little love for your Saviour.

The proof that we love is to suffer much for the Beloved, and to esteem all we suffer as nothing.

I exhort you to hide your treasure as well as you can. You understand of what treasure I speak; it is your precious sufferings.

The pearl is formed in the shell; but the shell, which has received the dew of heaven, closes itself and sinks to the bottom of the sea, where it engenders the precious pearl. Understand me well. The pearl of genuine virtue is engendered in the depths of the sea of suffering and humility. Thence we pass into the immense ocean of uncreated love and allow ourselves to be swallowed up in its waters.

Put in practice these precious words: suffer, be. silent. By doing so, you will become in a short time holy and perfect.

Souls who aspire to a sublime union with God by contemplation usually suffer interior purgations in one way or another.

God's ways are incomprehensible. He uses very sharp files, which penetrate the heart and remove the rust. His files are all spiritual.

There are some trials which are more bitter, so to say, than hell itself. These trials, being pure, devoid of all interior and exterior consolation, prepare the soul admirably for union with God. When God permits a soul to be in this state of purgation, it is a sign that she is making progress. She must, however, observe whether she has a secret esteem of her state - this would be pernicious - see whether her prayer leave her fully conscious of her own nothingness, and lead her to extol the divine mercy.

God sends such purgations to you, directors of consciences, that you may acquire the science of the saints and the art of directing souls. You will suffer also in another way. Love will be your executioner. Let it do its work; it knows how. In this martyrdom we have need of extraordinary grace and strength; but God will bestow it. Without this divine help it would be impossible to bear up.

This repugnance which you feel for riches is an excellent sign. God thus proves your fidelity, so that at each moment you may acquire new joys and new pearls for the embellishment of your crown.

Fancy a sculptor who sends for a piece of wood which he wishes to form into a fine statue. The wood-choppers carry to his shop a rough and shapeless log. The sculptor begins to smooth it down, using first the hatchet, then the saw, afterwards the plane, and finally the chisel. What does the wood do? Does it make any resistance? No, it allows itself to be worked upon until it becomes a beautiful statue.

Thus acts the Divine Artist. With a view of freeing the soul from her imperfections and, as it were, of polishing her, He permits the demons to torment her by temptations, and then He tries her by means of aridities and desolations. If she bears these trials with patience and longanimity, she perfects herself and becomes a very beautiful statue, worthy of a place in the art gallery of heaven.

- text taken from Flowers of the Passion, taken from the letters of Saint Paul of the Cross