"You are having to bear a large, weighty cross. But what a great happiness for you! Have confidence. For if God, who is all goodness, continues to make you suffer he will not test you more than you can bear. The cross is a sure sign that he loves you."—Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort
Original piece by Jacob Meyer on Unsplash.
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A sin that constantly returns and knocks on the door of my heart is pride. A pride that we have for another, like a parent proud of their child, is not bad since that’s directed towards the achievements of another. It is rather the pride that focuses back solely upon ourselves that is toxic. Pride tends to manifest in me not as pomp or gloating, but more subtly as an unhealthy concern of what others think of me and that they understand me.
The extension of this quote reminds me to let that go because following God can cause divisions between one another, even between those we are closest with (emphasis added):
I can assure you of this, that the greatest proof that we are loved by God is when we are despised by the world and burdened with crosses, i.e., when we are made to endure the privation of things we could rightly claim; when our holiest wishes meet with opposition; when we are afflicted with distressing and hurtful insults; when we are subjected to persecution, to having our actions misinterpreted by good people and by those who are our best friends; and when we suffer illnesses which are particularly repugnant, etc. […] If Christians only knew the value of the cross, they would walk a hundred miles to obtain it, because enclosed in the beloved cross is true wisdom, and that is what I am looking for night and day more eagerly than ever.—Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort
I love that St. Louis de Montfort here doesn’t just urge us to bear the cross, but to seek it out! Christ also reminds us of the potential for division when pursuing him, and also that—in the final beatitude—persecutions received for his sake are really a blessing:
“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”—Luke 12:51-53 (RSVCE)
“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”—Matthew 5:11 (RSVCE)
The point here is not to create division for the sake of itself or for your own desires, but that divisive waves created by following Christ is to be expected in a world that tries to resist his unique will for your life. We are called to make God #1 in our life, even above family. It would be nice if our family fully supported our pursuit of Christ, but that is not always the case. Many saints met opposition from their own family, particularly parents who had other—even well-intentioned—desires for their son or daughter.
From a heart set only on earthly matters, the yoke of Christ will be perceived as unsettling and disturbing. Not just to non-Christians, but fellow Christians may, out of jealousy or fear, find it unsettling or disturbing that we are doing something as a Christian that they are not doing or that seems irrational. Ideally, we see the unique call Christ has for each of us, and to motivate one another. We ought not to compare ourselves to others, but rather to compare ourselves to our former selves. Am I a better version of myself today compared to myself last month? Last year? Have I picked up good habits in that time period? Bad habits? We are invited to reflect on that in an examination of conscience, offer those up to Christ in reconciliation, and march onward with God-given strength and vigor.