A Year with the Saints – 12 January

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I wish I could persuade spiritual persons that the way of perfection does not consist in many devices, nor in much cogitation, but in denying themselves completely and yielding themselves to suffer everything for love of Christ. And if there is failure in this exercise, all other methods of walking in the spiritual way are merely a beating about the bush, and profitless trifling, although a person should have a very high contemplation and communication with God. Saint John of the Cross

Cassian wrote concerning the Abbot Paphnutius that the road by which he arrived at such great sanctity was that of constantly mortifying himself; and that in this manner he extinguished in himself all vices, and perfected in himself all virtues.

Father Balthasar Alvarez practiced continual mortification and self-denial in all that nature desired, not only in great things but also in small; and by this he arrived at high perfection. The Blessed Angela di Foligno, in ecstasy, saw the Lord bestowing marks of love upon some of His servants, but upon one, more; upon another, less. Desiring to understand the cause of this difference, she advanced to inquire of Our Lord, who answered thus: “I invite all to Me, but all are not willing to come, because the way is interlaced with thorns. To all who come, I offer My bread to eat and My cup to drink. But My food is not pleasing to sense, and My cup is full of bitterness, so that all do not desire to satiate themselves with those labors which were My meat while I was in the world. But those who are most constant in bearing Me company, they certainly are My dearest and most favored ones.” When the Saint had heard this, she was filled with so great a desire of suffering and denying herself in all ways that when many difficulties were afterwards placed in her way by her religious and by her own family, she experienced in them as great comfort as a worldling could have found in any plan made for his pleasure and advantage.

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