PATIENCE IN SICKNESS
If you really wish to please God, and at the same time give good example to others, embrace with peace all the infirmities God sends you. Oh, how great is the edification he gives, who in spite of all his pains and even the danger of death with which he may be threatened, preserves a serene countenance, abstains from all complaining, who thanks all for their attention, whether it be much or little, and accepts in the spirit of obedience the remedies applied, however bitter or painful they may be! St. Lidwina, as Surius relates, lay for thirty-eight years on a board, abandoned, covered with sores, and tortured by pains. She never complained of anything, but peaceably embraced all her sufferings. Blessed Humiliana of Florence, a Franciscan nun, being afflicted with several painful and violent diseases, used to raise her hand to Heaven, and say: “Mayest Thou be blessed, my Love! Mayest Thou be blessed!” St. Clare was likewise continually sick for twenty-eight years, and the smallest complaint never escaped her lips. St. Theodore, abbot, had a painful ulcer during his whole life, and he would say that the Lord sent it in order to give him occasion to thank God unceasingly, as he was accustomed to do. When we suffer any pain, let us cast a glance at so many holy Martyrs, whose flesh was torn in pieces with iron hooks, or burnt with red-hot plates, and let us at the sight of their torments take courage to offer to God the pain by which we are afflicted.
Patience under the severity of the Seasons accompanies patience in infirmities. When cold or heat is intense, some are disturbed and complain, particularly if they have not the clothes or other comforts that they wish for. Be careful not to imitate their example; but bless these creatures as ministers of the Divine will, and say with Daniel: O ye fire and heat, bless the Lord … O ye cold and heat, bless the Lord (Dan. iii. 66, 67).
In the time of sickness, we should above all accept death should it come, and the death that God wills. What is this life but a continual tempest, in which we are always in danger of being lost? St. Aloysius, though he died in the flower of youth, embraced death with joy, saying: “Now I find myself, as I hope, in the grace of God: I know not what might happen to me hereafter. I therefore gladly quit this earth, if it now please God to call me.” But you will say: St. Aloysius was a Saint, and I am a sinner. But listen to the answer of Blessed John of Avila: Every one who finds himself even moderately well disposed should desire death, in order to escape the danger of losing the grace of God, to which he is always exposed as long as he lives on this earth. What more desirable than, by a good death, to be secure of being no longer able to lose God! But, you reply, hitherto I have gained nothing for my soul: I would wish to live in order to do something before I die. But if God does not call you now to the other life, how do you know that for the future you will not be worse than you were hitherto? And that you will not fall into other sins and be lost?
And if we had no other motive, we ought to embrace death with peace when it comes, because it delivers us from the commission of new sins. In this life no one is exempt from all sins — at least from all venial sins. Hence, St. Bernard says: “Why do we desire life, in which the longer we live the more we sin?” Why do we desire to live, since we know that the greater the number of our days, the more shall our sins be multiplied? Moreover, if we love God, we should sigh to see and to love Him face to face in Heaven. But, unless death opens the gate to us, we cannot enter into that happy country. Hence the enamoured St. Augustine exclaimed: “Oh Lord, may I die, that I may see Thee.”