Journal Notes St Paul of the Cross #18
by Amy Knight
I say that anyone who wishes to serve God in an outstanding way must suffer outstanding anguish and outstanding afflictions. The temptations you write about are the tests from God to see whether you are faithful. Therefore, fight manfully, for after the battle peace will come. In all truth there are good signs, so in these horrible fantasies flee to Calvary and hide in the pure side of Jesus. Make a fool of the devil there. Above all, do not abandon prayer, even if you are forced to keep yourself there with the pain of hell. Jesus persevered in agony and sweat blood. You have not come to that as yet, so you are wrong to be crying. If you ever leave prayer, mortification, and the practice of the holy virtues, you will find yourself in a hopeless abyss of ruins. Remain in the Presence of God and rouse your spirit with ejaculatory prayers, with darts of love toward God, and repose in the divine bosom like an infant on the bosom of its mother, but with supreme confidence.
Proceed with the upright intention of the pure love of God, and let the devil roar as much as he wants. Stay withdrawn and speak a little. God bless you, and I am always, your true servant, Paul of the Holy
Hebrews 12:3-4 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.
In this letter, Saint Paul of the Cross gives the most important advice when he states: “If you ever leave prayer, mortification, and the practice of the holy virtues, you will find yourself in a hopeless abyss of ruins.” Conversation with God is the pathway to intimacy with God and is foundation to following God and doing His will. If the soul is not conversing with God and interacting with Him daily, and even every moment, how will the soul know the path of the Lord? What Jesus suffered on the Cross is what makes this path open to us. If He did not die on the Cross and bridge this gap between God and man, then this relationship would not be possible. Since He has done this out of His extravagant love, all is possible in Christ.
God is about the transformation of each soul. He doesn’t take the soul out of the world after salvation, but leaves the soul in a broken, demonic-ridden world in order that the soul walk out the life of Christ living in him, working out His life again through the soul. This path is the way of the Cross, the way of suffering, the way of love poured out as an offering. Each soul is to become a little Christ, a manifestation of Him in the earth. This life as an offering, an outpouring is a life of prayer and mortification and practice of the holy virtues as St Paul of the Cross urges his follower in this letter.
The practice of these virtues is not something the soul can do apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. This practice is a supernatural venture, and even an adventure. The beginning of this way is great poverty of spirit, knowing the complete bankruptcy and “leaning on the Beloved”[i] in total dependency.
When trials and tribulations come, these trials are such that they bring about the flowering of the virtues of Christ in the soul. If the soul would embrace each trial, difficulty, and trouble that comes his way, and present these difficulties as an offering to Him, a cross, and turn these trials into an opportunity to gaze on Christ crucified, then the virtues will bloom and come forth as a beautiful fruitful garden of love, a bouquet that can be given to the God-man as a gift of thankfulness of what He endured for the sake of the soul. Every suffering trial can become an offering, and a pathway to deep love and union with God, for the way of the cross of suffering is the way of deep union with the Trinity.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for the cross. Thank you for opening a door that no man can shut and shutting a door no man can open.[ii] You have become the bridge, the way to the Father. Let each trial and tribulation be seen as an opportunity for love to be birthed unto union with God at the highest level of love. Let the practice of virtues go from developing a good habit into infused virtues whereby supernatural abilities of the God-man reside in and manifest outward to the world. In Jesus Name, Amen.
[i] Song of Songs 8:5
[ii] Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7