Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Louis de Montfort/The Love of Eternal Wisdom/Chapter 14

From Saint Wiki

The Love of Eternal Wisdom
167. The Cross is according to my belief the greatest secret of the King (Tob 12.7) - the greatest mystery of Eternal Wisdom.
Wisdom and the Cross
How remote and how different are the thoughts and the ways of eternal Wisdom from those of even the wisest of men. (cf Is 55.8) This great God wished to redeem the world, to cast out and chain up the devils, to seal the gates of hell and open heaven to men, and give infinite glory to his eternal Father. Such was his purpose, his arduous task, his great undertaking. What means will be chosen by divine Wisdom, whose knowledge reaches from one end of the universe to the other and orders all things well? (cf Wis 8.1) His arm is almighty; at a stroke he can destroy all that is opposed to him and do whatever he wills. By a single word he can annihilate and create. What more can I say? He has but to will and all is done.
168. But his power is regulated by his love. He wishes to become incarnate in order to convince men of his friendship; he wishes to come down upon earth to help men to go up to heaven. So be it! It would be expected then that this Wisdom incarnate would appear glorious and triumphant, accompanied by millions and millions of angels, or at least by millions of chosen men and women. With these armies, majestic in his splendor and untouched by poverty, dishonor, humiliations and weaknesses, he will crush all his enemies and win the hearts of men by his attractiveness, his delights, his magnificence and his riches.
Surely nothing less than that. But O wonder! He perceives something which is a source of scandal and horror to Jews and an object of foolishness to pagans. (cf 1 Cor 1.23) He sees a piece of vile and contemptible wood which is used to humiliate and torture the most wicked and the most wretched of men, called a gibbet, a gallows, a cross. It is upon this cross that he casts his eyes; he takes his delight in it; he cherishes it more than all that is great and resplendent in heaven and on earth. He decides that that will be the instrument of his conquests, the adornment of his royal state. He will make it the wealth and joy of his empire, the friend and spouse of his heart. O the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How amazing is his choice and how sublime and incomprehensible are his ways! But how inexpressible his love for that cross! (Rom 11.33)
169. Incarnate Wisdom loved the cross from his infancy. (cf Wis 8.2) At his coming into the world, while in his Mother's womb, he received it from his eternal Father. He placed it deep in his heart, there to dominate his life, saying, "My God and my Father, I chose this cross when I was in your bosom. (Ps 39.9) I choose it now in the womb of my Mother. I love it with all my strength and I place it deep in my heart to be my spouse and my mistress." (cf Wis. 8.2)
170. Throughout his life he eagerly sought after the Cross. If, like a thirsting deer, (cf Ps 41.2) he hastened from village to village, from town to town; if with giant strides (cf Ps 18.6) he pursued his way towards Calvary; if he spoke so frequently of his sufferings and death to his apostles and disciples, (cf Mt 16.21; 17.12,22,23; 20.17-19) and even to his prophets during his Transfiguration; (cf Lk 9.31) if he so often exclaimed, "I have longed for it with an infinite desire" (Lk 22.15); it was because all his journeying, all his eagerness, all his pursuits, all his desires were directed towards the Cross and because to die in its embrace was for him the very height of glory and success.
He espoused the Cross at his Incarnation with indescribable love. He sought it out and carried it with the utmost joy, throughout his whole life, which became but one continuous cross. After having made several efforts to embrace it in order to die upon it on Calvary, he asked, "How great is my distress until it is completed!" How am I hindered? What is delaying me? Why can I not embrace you yet, dear cross of Calvary? (Lk 12.50)
171. At last his wishes were fully satisfied. Bearing a stigma of shame he was attached to the cross, indissolubly joined to it, and died joyfully upon it as if in the arms of a dear friend and upon a couch of honor and triumph.
172. Do not think that, wanting to be more triumphant, he rejected the cross after his death. Far from it; he united himself so closely to it that neither angel nor man, nor any creature in heaven or on earth, could separate him from it. The bond between them is indissoluble, their union is eternal. Never the Cross without Jesus, or Jesus without the Cross.
Through his dying upon it the Cross of ignominy became so glorious, its poverty and starkness so enriching, its sorrows so agreeable, its austerity so attractive, that it became as it were deified and an object to be adored by angels and by men. Jesus now requires that all his subjects adore it as they adore him. It is not his wish that the honor even of a relative adoration be given to any other creature however exalted, such as his most Blessed Mother. This special worship is due and given only to his dear Cross. On the day of the last judgment he will bring to an end all veneration to the relics of the saints, even those most venerable, but not to those of his Cross. He will command the chief Seraphim and Cherubim to collect from every part of the world all the particles of the true Cross. By his loving omnipotence he will re-unite them so well that the whole Cross will be re- formed, the very Cross on which he died. He will have his Cross borne in triumph by angels joyfully singing its praises. It will go before him, borne upon the most brilliant cloud that has ever been seen. And with this Cross and by it, he will judge the world.
Great will be the joy of the friends of the Cross on beholding it. Deep will be the despair of its opponents who, not being able to bear the brilliant and fiery sight of this Cross, will plead for the mountains to fall upon them and for hell to swallow them. (cf Lk 23.30)
The Cross and ourselves
173. While waiting for that great day of the last judgment, Eternal Wisdom has decreed the Cross to be the sign, the emblem and the weapon of his faithful people.
He welcomes no child that does not bear its sign. He recognizes no disciple who is ashamed to display it, or who has not the courage to accept it, or who either drags it reluctantly or rejects it outright. He proclaims, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mt 16.24; Lk 9.23)
He enlists no soldier who does not take up the cross as the weapon to defend himself against all his enemies, to attack, to overthrow and to crush them. And he exclaims, "In this sign you will conquer. Have confidence, soldiers of mine, I am your leader; I have conquered my enemies by the cross (Jn 16.33), and by it you also will be victorious."
174. He has enclosed in the cross such an abundance of grace, life and happiness that only those who enjoy his special favor know about them. He often reveals to his friends his other secrets, as he did to his Apostles: "All things I have made known to you," (Jn 15.15) but he reveals the secrets of the Cross only to those who make themselves worthy by their great fidelity and great labors. One must be humble, little, self-disciplined, spiritual and despised by the world to learn the mystery of the Cross. The Cross even today is a source of scandal and an object of folly not only to Jews and pagans, Moslems and heretics, the worldly-wise and bad Catholics, but even to seemingly devout and very devout people. Yes, the Cross remains an object of scandal, folly, contempt and fear: not in theory, for never has so much been spoken or written about its beauty and its excellence than in these times; but in practice, because people lose courage, complain, excuse themselves, and run away as soon as a possibility of suffering arises.
"Father," said this incarnate Wisdom, when beholding in joyful rapture the beauty of the Cross, "I thank you for having hidden these things - the treasures and graces of my cross - from the wise and prudent of this world and revealed them to the little ones." (Lk 10.21)
175. If the knowledge of the mystery of the Cross is such a special grace, how great must be the enjoyment when one actually possesses it? This is a favor Eternal Wisdom bestows only on his best friends and only after they have prayed for it, longed for it, pleaded for it. However excellent is the gift of faith by which we please God, draw near to him and overcome our enemies, and without which we would be lost, the Cross is an even greater gift.
"It was a greater happiness for St. Peter," says St. John Chrysostom, "to be imprisoned for Jesus Christ than to be a witness of his glory on Mount Thabor; he was more glorious bound in chains than holding the keys of paradise in his hand." (Acts 12.3-7; Mt 16.19) St. Paul esteemed it a greater glory to wear a prisoner's chains for his Savior than to be raised to the third heaven (Eph 3.1; 4.1; 2 Cor 12.2). God bestowed a greater favor on the Apostles and martyrs in giving them his Cross to carry in their humiliations, privations and cruel tortures than in conferring on them the gift of miracles or the grace to convert the world.
All those to whom Eternal Wisdom gave himself have desired the Cross, sought after it, welcomed it. Whatever sufferings came their way, they exclaimed from the depths of their heart with St. Andrew, "O wonderful Cross, so long have I yearned for you!"
176. The Cross is precious for many reasons:
1. Because it makes us resemble Jesus Christ;
2. Because it makes us worthy children of the eternal Father, worthy members of Jesus Christ, worthy temples of the Holy Spirit. "God the Father chastises every son he accepts;" (Heb 12.6) Jesus Christ accepts as his own only those who carry their crosses. The Holy Spirit cuts and polishes all the living stones of the heavenly Jerusalem, that is, the elect (cf 1 Pet 2.5; Apoc 21.2,10). These are revealed truths.
3. The Cross is precious because it enlightens the mind and gives it an understanding which no book in the world can give. "He who has not been tried, what can he know?" (Sir 34.9)
4. Because when it is well carried it is the source, the food and the proof of love. The Cross enkindles the fire of divine love in the heart by detaching it from creatures. It keeps this love alive and intensifies it; as wood is the food of flames, so the Cross is the food of love. And it is the soundest proof that we love God. The Cross was the proof God gave us of his love for us; and it is also the proof which God requires to show our love for him.
5. The Cross is precious because it is an abundant source of every delight and consolation; it brings joy, peace and grace to our souls.
6. The Cross is precious because it brings the one who carries it "a weight of everlasting glory." (2 Cor 4.17)
177. If we knew the value of the Cross, we would, like St. Peter of Alcantara, have novenas made in order to acquire such a delightful morsel of paradise. We would say, like St. Theresa, "Either to suffer or to die;" or with St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, "Not to die but to suffer." Like blessed John of the Cross we would ask only for the grace to suffer and be despised. Heaven esteems nothing in this world except the Cross, he said after his death to a saintly person. And our Lord said to one of his servants, "I have crosses of such great value that my Mother, most powerful as she is, can procure from me nothing more precious for her faithful servants."
178. Wise and honest people living in this world, you do not understand the mysterious language of the Cross. You are too fond of sensual pleasures and you seek your comforts too much. You have too much regard for the things of this world and you are too afraid to be held up to scorn or looked down upon. In short, you are too opposed to the Cross of Jesus. True, you speak well of the Cross in general, but not of the one that comes your way. You shun this as much as you can or else you drag it along reluctantly, grumbling, impatient and protesting. I seem to see in you the oxen that drew the Ark of the Covenant against their will, bellowing as they went, unaware that what they were drawing contained the most precious treasure upon earth. (1 Kgs 6.12)
179. The number of fools and unhappy people is infinite, says Wisdom (Ecc 1.15), because infinite is the number of those who do not know the value of the Cross and carry it reluctantly. But you, true disciples of Eternal Wisdom, if you have trials and afflictions, if you suffer much persecution for justice's sake, if you are treated as the refuse of the world, be comforted, rejoice, be glad, and dance for joy because the cross you carry is a gift so precious as to arouse the envy of the saints in heaven, were they capable of envy. All that is honorable, glorious and virtuous in God and in his Holy Spirit is vested in you, for your reward is great in heaven and even on earth, because of the spiritual favors it obtains for you.
Practical conclusion
180. Friends of Jesus Christ, drink of his bitter cup and your friendship with him will increase. Suffer with him and you will be glorified with him. Suffer patiently and your momentary suffering will be changed into an eternity of happiness.
Make no mistake about it; since incarnate Wisdom had to enter heaven by the Cross, you also must enter by the same way. No matter which way you turn, says the Imitation of Christ, you will always find the Cross. Like the elect you may take it up rightly, with patience and cheerfulness out of love for God; or else like the reprobate you may carry it impatiently and unwillingly as those doubly unfortunate ones who are constrained to repeat perpetually in hell, "We have labored and suffered in the world and after it all, here we are with the damned." (Wis 5.7)
True wisdom is not to be found in the things of this world nor in the souls of those who live in comfort. He has fixed his abode in the Cross so firmly that you will not find him anywhere in this world save in the Cross. He has so truly incorporated and united himself with the Cross that in all truth we can say: Wisdom is the Cross, and the Cross is Wisdom.

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