A Year with the Saints – 18 April

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If we could but know what a precious treasure lies concealed in infirmities, we would receive them with as much joy as we would the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without complaint or any sign of annoyance. – Saint Vincent de Paul

This Saint was tried by many long and most painful infirmities, which often deprived him of the use of his limbs, and left him no rest by day or night. He bore them all with unalterable tranquillity, and conversed with the same affability and serenity of countenance that he had when he was well. A word of complaint never escaped from his lips, but he praised and thanked God constantly for sending to him these sufferings, and looked on them as special favors. The most he did when the pain was at its worst, was to turn to the crucifix and animate himself to patience by devout interior aspirations. If he ever happened to speak of his sufferings, he mentioned them as a thing of no account, saying that he suffered little in comparison with what he deserved, or with what Christ suffered for love of us. One of his household was one day applying a dressing to his limbs, which were diseased for forty years, when moved with compassion at seeing them so swollen and ulcerated, he exclaimed, “Alas, how grievous are your sufferings!” But the Saint quickly replied: “How can you apply the word grievous to the work of God, and His Divine arrangement in causing a miserable sinner to suffer? May God pardon you for what you have just said! This is not the way to speak in the school of Christ! Is it not right that the guilty should suffer and be chastised? And cannot the Lord do with us whatever pleases Him?”

Once writing of his sufferings to an intimate friend, he said: “I did not wish to let you know of my sickness, fearing it would make you sad. But God is good! How long shall we be so weak that we shall not have courage to reveal to one another the graces and favors God bestows on us in visiting us with sickness? May it please His Divine goodness to give us a little more spirit, that we may find our satisfaction in His!” Through all his illnesses he never ceased to take an interest in the affairs of the house and of the whole Congregation. He received persons of all sorts, whether belonging to his Order or not, if they came to him on business or for other reasons, and always with such a smiling face and with so much amiability and serenity that if they had not known his state of health from others, they would have considered him well. Neither did such great infirmities cause him to change his usual mode of life. Up to his death he continued to sleep on straw, and to take the common food. When the physicians and some persons of rank tried to persuade him to take delicacies, he did so once or twice to please them, but immediately returned to what he generally ate, under the pretext that his stomach would not bear other food.

When Saint Felix the Capuchin was suffering severely from colic, he was asked, by the doctor, how he felt, and answered: “The wicked ass of a body would be glad to escape the stick, but it must stand and receive the blow.” When he was urged to have recourse to the divine aid, by invoking the most holy name of Jesus, from whom he might expect relief – “What do you say?” cried the Saint, “to what do you advise me? Never! These are not pains, but celestial flowers which Paradise produces, and the Lord shares among His children.” Then he began to praise and bless the Divine Goodness which dealt thus with him.

MLA Citation