A continuation of thoughts from the book "The Way" by St. Josemaria Escriva.
201: What a taste of gall and vinegar, of ash and aloes! What a dry and coated palate! And this physical feeling seems as nothing compared with that other bad taste, the one in your soul.
The fact is that 'more is being asked of you', and you can't bring yourself to give it. Humble yourself Would that bitter taste still remain in your flesh and your spirit if you did all that you could?
202 You are going to punish yourself voluntarily for your weakness and lack of generosity? Very good: but let it be a reasonable penance, imposed as it were, on an enemy who is at the same time your brother?
203 The joy of us poor men, even when it has supernatural motives, always leaves behind some taste of bitterness. What did you expect? Here on earth, suffering is the salt of life.
204 Many who would willingly let themselves be nailed to a Cross before the astonished gaze of a thousand onlookers cannot bear with a christian spirit the pinpricks of each day! Think, then, which is the more heroic.
205 We were reading — you and I — the heroically ordinary life of that man of God. And we saw him fight whole months and years (what 'accounts' he kept in his particular examination!) at breakfast time: today he won, tomorrow he was beaten... He noted: 'Didn't take sugar...; did take sugar!'
May you and I too live our 'sugar tragedy'.
206 The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and... up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body.
207 Give thanks, as for a very special favour, for that holy abhorrence you feel for yourself.
208 Let us bless pain. Love pain. Sanctify pain... Glorify pain!
209 A whole programme for a good course in the 'subject' of suffering is given to us by the Apostle: spe gaudentes — rejoicing in hope, In tribulatione patientes — patient in troubles, orationi instantes — persevering in prayer.
210 Atonement: this is the path that leads to Life.
211 In the deep pit opened by your humility, let penance bury your negligences, offences and sins. Just as the gardener buries rotten fruit, dried twigs and fallen leaves at the foot of the very trees which produced them. And so what was useless, what was even harmful, can make a real contribution to a new fruitfulness.
From the falls learn to draw strength: from death, life.
212 That Christ you see is not Jesus. It is only the pitiful image that your blurred eyes are able to form... — Purify yourself. Clarify your sight with humility and penance. Then... the pure light of Love will not be denied you. And you will have perfect vision. The image you see will be really his: his!
213 Jesus suffers to carry out the will of the Father. And you, who also want to carry out the most holy Will of God, following the steps of the Master, can you complain if you meet suffering on your way?
214 Say to your body: I would rather keep you in slavery than be myself a slave of yours.
215 How afraid people are of atonement! If all that they do for appearance's sake, to please the world, were done with purified intention for God... what saints many would be!
216 You are crying? Don't be ashamed of it. Yes, cry: men also cry like you, when they are alone and before God. Each night, says King David, I soak my bed with tears. With those tears, those burning, manly tears, you can purify your past and supernaturalize your present life.
217 I want you to be happy on earth. And you will not be happy if you don't lose that fear of suffering. For, as long as we are 'wayfarers', it is precisely in suffering that our happiness lies.
218 How beautiful it is to give up this life for that Life!
219 If you realize that those sufferings — of body or soul — mean purification and merit, bless them.
220 'God give you health.' — Doesn't this wish for mere physical well-being, with which some beggars demand or acknowledge alms, leave a bad taste in your mouth?
221 If we are generous in voluntary atonement Jesus will fill us with grace to love the trials he sends us.
222 Let your will exact from your senses, by means of atonement, what your other faculties deny your will in prayer.
223 Of how little value is penance without constant self— denial!
224 You are afraid of penance?... Of penance, which will help you to obtain Life everlasting. And yet, in order to preserve this poor present life, don't you see how men will submit to all the cruel torture of a surgical operation?
225 Your greatest enemy is your own self.
226 Treat your body with charity, but with no more charity than you would show towards a treacherous enemy.
227 If you realize that your body is your enemy, and an enemy of God's glory, since it is an enemy of your sanctification, why do you treat it so softly?
228 'Have a good time to-night', they said, as usual. And the comment of a soul very close to God was, 'What a limited wish!'
229 With you, Jesus, what joy in suffering, what light in darkness!
230 You are suffering! Listen: 'His' Heart is not smaller than ours. — You are suffering? There is good in suffering.
231 A strict fast is a penance most pleasing to God. But, what with one thing and another, we have become a bit too easy-going. There is no objection — on the contrary — if you, with the approval of your Director, fast frequently.
232 Motives for penance? — Atonement, reparation, petition, thanksgiving: means to progress: for you, for me, for others, for your family, for your country, for the Church... And a thousand motives more.
233 Don't do more penance than your Director allows you.
234 How we ennoble suffering, giving it its right place (atonement) in the spiritual order!
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