THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
“Charity beareth all things”
HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST BEARS ALL THINGS FOR HIM, AND ESPECIALLY ILLNESS, POVERTY, AND CONTEMPT
Oh, what abundance of merits may be accumulated by patiently enduring an illness! Almighty God revealed to Father Balthazar Alvarez the great glory He had in store for a certain nun who had borne a painful sickness with resignation; and told him that she had acquired greater merit in those eight months of her illness than some other Religious in many years. It is by the patient endurance of ill-health that we weave a great part, and perhaps the greater part, of the crown that God destines for us in Heaven. St. Lidwina had a revelation to this effect. After sustaining many and most cruel disorders, as we mentioned, she prayed to die a martyr for the love of Jesus Christ; now, as she was one day sighing after this martyrdom, she suddenly saw a beautiful crown, but as yet incomplete, and she understood that it was destined for herself; whereupon the Saint, longing to behold it completed, entreated the Lord to increase her sufferings. Her prayer was heard, for some soldiers came shortly after and ill-treated her, not only with injurious words, but with blows and outrages. An Angel then appeared to her with the crown completed, and informed her that those last injuries had added to it the gems that were wanting; and shortly afterwards she expired.
Ah, yes! to the hearts that fervently love Jesus Christ, pains and ignominies are most delightful. And thus we see the holy Martyrs going with gladness to encounter the sharp prongs and hooks of iron, the plates of glowing steel and axes. The Martyr St. Procopius thus spoke to the tyrant who tortured him: “Torment me as you like, but know at the same time that nothing is sweeter to the lover of Jesus Christ than to suffer for His sake.” St. Gordiano, Martyr, replied in the same way to the tyrant who threatened him with death: “Thou threatenest me with death; but I am sorry that I can die only once for my own beloved Jesus.” And I ask, did these Saints speak thus because they were insensible to pain or weak in intellect? No, replies St. Bernard; not insensibility, but love caused this: Hoc non fecit stupor, sed amor. They were not insensible, for they felt well enough the torments inflicted on them; but since they loved God, they esteemed it a great privilege to suffer for God, and to lose all, even life itself, for the love of God.