“I can easily realize that the dislike of the work you do makes your ordeal the heavier; yet recollect the rewards of the martyrs, who have undergone ordeals far more sorrowful.
In such a state it is natural to feel an increased zest for the solitary life. Yet the life of obedience is of greater worth: it is one long sacrifice, and if there be more causes for vexation in it, there are also many opportunities of acquiring merit. Persist in being altogether steadfast in it, until you reach the state when you hesitate to say one word that may detach you from the cross of Jesus Christ.
The great secret of enduring wretchedness with patience is to look upon it as God’s cross, to be ranked with sickness and other afflictions of this life. Were God to send you these exterior and perceptible maladies you would endure them patiently. Do you then endure your interior ordeals with the same patience.” – from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 380 (emphasis mine)
As I was typing the above quote from the book, I was interrupted about ten times by my children. When I wasn’t interrupted, I was treated to the cacophony of sounds emitting from my three oldest boys as they ate their lunch. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to find one’s writing voice amidst the noise. Now, as I just got the three big boys quietly settled, the baby has awoken, and my peaceful afternoon of dishes and laundry will be spliced between feedings, diaper changes, and baths. And so it goes.
There are days in my life where the cloister greatly appeals to me. Raising four boys in the north where winter is prominent six months out of the year is a noisy business and not for the faint of heart who may swoon at every fight among boys. There are many moments when I just want to retreat into myself and forget the responsibilities surrounding me. However, this is only a testament to how tightly I hold onto my own self-love.
In this passage, Fr. de Cassaude is urging us to recognize the sameness between exterior and interior trials. Of course, if we fall ill, we have no control over that; it is God’s business to sanctify us through the illness, and we may rightly surrender that exterior trial. But do we also surrender those wants and desires of our hearts interiorly? Do we surrender the ideals that live deep within us? Or are we constantly fighting against the life that God has laid out for us?
Fr. de Caussade tells us that the great secret to enduring wretchedness in this life is to patiently accept everything. But what is everything? It is anything that we find difficult, monotonous, or physically painful. It is anything that insults our ideal for this life; it’s any imperfect part of our life that we haven’t yet accepted and offered to God.
And so, while a blog post about God may be a very good thing indeed, I must patiently endure the interruptions, the noise, and accept that God is giving me the opportunity to cooperate with him as he peels off yet another layer of self-love. I am giving up what I would like to do, in order to better serve Him who sustains all that I do.