There are a couple of passages I would like to share from Saint Therese of Liseux. It is from that same mediation booklet I've mentioned previously. She writes,
"Our divine Lord asks no sacrifice beyond our strength. At times, it is true, he makes us taste to the full the bitterness of the chalice he puts to our lips. And when he demands the sacrifice of all that is dearest on earth, it is impossible without a very special grace, not to cry out as he did during his agony in the garden: 'Father let this chalice pass from me.' But we must hasten to add as he did: 'Nevertheless, not as I will , but as you will.' It is consoling to remember that Jesus, 'the strong God' has felt all our weakness and shuddered at the sight of the bitter chalice - that very chalice that he so ardently desired! A saint has said: 'The greatest honor God can bestow upon a soul is not to give it great things, but to ask of it great things.' Was it not by suffering and death that God ransomed the world? The martyrdom of the heart is not less fruitful than the shedding of blood. Have I not, then, in good reason to say that our lot is a beautiful one - worthy of an apostle of Christ?"
These thoughts speak to me on so many levels. I felt as if Therese wrote them from the depths of my very on soul. I can't help but think of how much of a battle it is to combat the many lies the world tells us. How very opposite are the ways of the Spirit, the ways of heaven. Here, Therese quotes a saint that says the greatest HONOR God can give a soul is not to give it great things, but ask of it great things. From the eyes of the world, suffering does not appear to be a merit at all. It is not a "desirable" thing. It is even scorned and pitied. So why should anyone then be honored by such a cross to carry? Who would want to follow a God, who as a means of honor, rewards a soul with such pain? To those blindly living here, solely for what the world has to offer, the answer should be no one. But to those who have tapped into one's eternity, there is a key factor we must remember. Just as Christ was crucified, he also RESURRECTED. He came not to give us such heavy crosses but to give meaning and purpose to them. For if we accept the honor to suffer WITH our Lord, we will rise again too with Him! The greater the price paid, the greater the glory. It is a truth I must strive CONSTANTLY to live in. Not only is there the marvelous crown of life eternal awaiting us, but as St. Therese also said, it is a very special grace that aids us. I experience it constantly. I testify to it.
Along side Jesus' example, Mary is another soul to examine. When I use to think of Mary, I would think of how "neat" it was that out of all women, she was chosen to be the Mother of God. How special. How amazing. What and Honor! Did she fully understand what her yes would entail? Without the grace of God and the practice of virtue, I believe that yes would be impossible (Well, it would be for me at least). I am sure it was hard, not doubt. Scripture tells us God chose Mary because he found favor with her. To someone who does not know the glorious outcome, it all must sound, at the very least, odd. God wanted to honor her with suffering? Yes- partially. But look at her now? She sits beside her Son as the Queen of heaven and earth. She intercedes and advocates for all of her children constantly. The Father lifted up His daughter, sharing in the Resurrection of her Son, because she shared in His Passion as well. Blessed be God forever!
"The martyrdom of the heart is not less fruitful than the shedding of blood." How beautifully said. This tells me every person if he\she accepts, gets to partake in glorious martyrdom for Jesus, for the world without ever shedding a single drop of blood. How merciful. I have the opportunity to be a martyr of the heart many times in a single day. Every time I "die" to myself, my desires of the flesh, gives Jesus the chance to make such an offering bear much fruit. One's heart does not need to be shattered by such a tragedy to be a martyr. It is in the daily, in the acts done with great love.
This leads me to my other thought I use to often dwell upon. I would imagine how a soul I never knew or met, and maybe even from a completely different part of the world from a completely different time, would embrace me and thank me for offering up all those diaper changes, or all the sleepless nights walking a baby, etc. For those small acts offered up gave her the grace to know God and strive for heaven.
The idea is two-fold. I would also think of the souls I will get to meet and embrace and thank, for being martyrs of the heart, so I could receive God's grace to reach heaven as well. And are we not called to be the different body parts of Christ? Are we not called to become like Jesus in order to enter His Kingdom? The honor of suffering gives us the invitation. For suffering yoked with grace performs a miracle. An individual soul transforms to a body part of Christ the King. The heart, which is prone to hardening, becomes a vibrant beating organ. The organ that supplies all the others with oxygen. Whether the suffering comes from tragedy, one's past, a sickness, finances, and so forth, in suffering, compassion invades the soul. Who else then will better suited to be the body parts of Christ? In return, will then bring God's love to others, especially those suffering in the same ways without the illumination of God.
Therese says it beautifully and much more eloquently. She writes, "Just one such faint spark can set the whole world on fire. We are so aware of the bright light of the saints set high on the church's candlestick, and we think we are receiving from them grace and light. But from whence do they borrow their fire? Very possible from the prayers of some devout and hidden soul whose inward light is not apparent to human eyes, some soul of unrecognized virtue, and in her own sight, of little worth - a dying flame! What mysteries shall we one day see revealed! For it is God's will that here below, we shall give to one another the heavenly treasures with which our Father has enriched us."
Each of us unique in our role to the body parts of Christ are imperative to all other parts. To do the will of the Father is to give and receive the heavenly treasures each of us is given! What a beautiful will that is. Who wouldn't want to say yes to that? Certainly I will try until my Jesus comes to bring me home. Pushing onward, one step at a time.