Thursday, February 21, 2008

O Good Cross

A friend e-mailed another short excerpt from St. Francis de Sales' Letters to Persons in the World. It makes me consider my sinus problems of late, and the little daily issues we have with others, with offering opinions when it would be better not, and then of fussing about having done so. I had demonic dreams early morning, and even those could be aggravations; but St. Francis de Sales gives the following holy advice.

"O good Cross, so loved by my

"...we shall know that we are wrong when we call our little
mishaps by the names of afflictions, pains, and
contradictions; and we shall see that we are wrong in
desiring patience for such trifles, since a single little
drop of modesty is enough for bearing these things well..."

I looked up the word "modesty," for it seems quite a powerful
aquisition if one drop is enough to bear the aggravations we
encounter daily. Mishaps? Yes, they seem to be plentiful
except when we offer them to God after having placed a drop
of modesty on them.

Modest means "keeping due measure." In usage, we find it
expressing moderation in dress, attempting to not stand out or
draw attention to ourselves; it expresses not displaying beyond
a limited degree, our talents and gifts. Modesty is quite akin
to humility. The word originated in the mid-1500's, so it was
fresh and popular in St. Francis de Sale's life time. It derives
from French and Latin.

To remain humble, then, in our on-going irritations and
challenges, and humble in a measured degree, is the drop of
powerful antidote.

The title of the letter intrigues me: O good Cross, so loved by
my Savior. Our Bishop was preaching similar yesterday at noon
Mass. He reminds us to offer our small and daily sufferings in
union with Jesus, on His Cross. He spoke of the great love of
Jesus--and of the humility of suffering; for the Gospel reading
shared Jesus' explanation to His disciples (disgruntled that
James and John's mom had asked for her sons to have prefer-
ential place in Jesus' Kingdom) that only the Father determines
who will be at the right and left, but that they consider yet from
the view of the world. Are they ready to drink the Cup that He
will drink?

Jesus drinks the Cup of Suffering with perfect love.

That is yet another consideration: to pray for perfect love.
A drop of modesty allows us to bear our mishaps in life; perfect
love allows us to die to self and unite in God's will, to love in
union with His love, and to go beyond accepting the Cross--but
to love the good Cross, to consider it a good.


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