Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Wisdom of the Cross: St. Louis de Montfort’s Fifteen Rules or Considerations

The wisdom of the Cross, possessed by every canonized Saint, is the greatest, most liberating wisdom on earth. Work for it. Ask for it. You will fail often, no doubt! But pick yourself up and try again. Soon enough, without realizing it, you will receive! You will be conformed into the image of Christ. “In His person was shown the excellence and true dignity of human nature…In His dealings with men, justice and mercy, sympathy and courage, pity for weakness and rebuke for hollow pretense were perfectly blended.”

The following 15 rules is from a letter from St. Louis de Montfort to congregation called, Friends of the Cross:

1. Ask and you will receive: Ask God for the wisdom of the cross; ask for it continually and fervently without wavering or fear of not obtaining it, and it will be yours.

2. Daily crosses: We do not have to go far to find a cross. If you fulfill your duties as well as you can, you will find no lack of opposition, criticism and ridicule, which will be sent by divine providence without your choosing or wanting it.

3. Take up some voluntary crosses.

4. Everything into profit: Take advantage of little sufferings, even more than of great ones. If it is true to say that we may have a preference for certain crosses, let it be particularly for small, obscure ones when they come to us at the same time as great and spectacular ones. Do not allow the tiniest piece of the true Cross to be lost, even though it be only an insect-sting or a pin-prick. Turn everything to profit "Thank you, Lord. Your will be done."

5. Unconditional acceptance: Suffer all sorts of crosses, without exception and without choice. Make the resolution to suffer any kind of cross without excluding or choosing any. You should firmly believe that this is the highest point of heavenly glory and of genuine happiness for the true and perfect Friend of the Cross.

6. Peace after the fall: If you make a blunder which brings a cross upon you, whether it be inadvertently or even through your own fault, bow down under the mighty hand of God without delay, and as far as possible do not worry over it. God allows his greatest servants, those far advanced in holiness, to fall into the most humiliating faults so as to humble them in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. He thus keeps them from thoughts of pride

7. Cheerful disposition: What, then, does God look upon with pleasure and satisfaction, and about which he inquires of the angels and even the devils? It is the one who is struggling with the world, the devil, and himself for the love of God, the one who carries his cross cheerfully.

8. Complacency spoils: The moment our corrupt minds reflect with self-complacency on any of God's gifts within us, that gift, that action, that grace becomes tarnished and spoilt, and God no longer looks on it with favor. In fact, God is pleased to hide his friends in the shelter of his presence, that they may not be defiled by the scrutiny of men or by their own self-awareness. He humiliates them! How many faults he allows them to fall into! What uncertainty, darkness and perplexity he leaves them!!

9. Avoid appearance of evil: If you happen to do something which is neither good nor bad in itself, and your neighbor takes scandal at it - although without reason - refrain from doing it, out of charity to him, so as to avoid the scandal of the weak.

10. Consider what you deserve: Whatever cross or humiliation he sends you is exceedingly light in comparison with the number and the greatness of your offences, for you should consider your sins in the light of God's holiness,

11. Feelings unreliable: Without any feeling of joy in the senses or pleasure in the mind, we love the cross we are carrying, by the light of pure faith, and take delight in it, even though the lower part of our nature may be in a state of conflict and disturbance, groaning and complaining, weeping and longing for relief.

12. God either actively wills it or permits it: All natural evils which befall us, from the smallest to the greatest, come from the hand of God.

13. To remember Christ crucified: Look upwards and see the beautiful crown that awaits you in heaven if you carry your cross well.

14. Three kinds of complaints: Never willingly complain against any person or thing that God may use to afflict you. There are three kinds of complaints we may make in times of distress. The first is natural and spontaneous, as when the body groans and complains, weeps and laments. There is no fault in this, provided, as I have said, that the heart is resigned to the will of God. The second kind of complaint is that of the mind, as when we make known our ills to someone who can give us some relief, such as a doctor or a superior. There may be some imperfection in this if we are too eager to tell our troubles, but there is no sin in it. The third kind is sinful: that is when we criticize our neighbor either to get rid of an evil which afflicts us or to take revenge on him; or when we willfully complain of what we suffer with impatience and murmuring.

15. Gratitude: Accept the cross only with gratitude. Whenever you receive any cross, always welcome it with humility and gratitude. And when God favors you with a cross of some importance, show your gratitude in a special way, and get others to thank him for you.

“And because you have been faithful in little things, the Lord will place you in charge of greater, according to his promise. That is to say, in charge of the greater graces he will bestow on you, of the greater crosses he will send you, of the greater glory he will prepare for you...”