All these trials, snubs, unpleasantnesses, etc., do not come to you by chance, they are precious jewels from the hand of God, and, if you could only bring yourself to look upon them in the right light, would make you a really big saint. Here is how you are to do it. Do you remember a story told of a certain saint who searched the whole city to find the most troublesome, cranky, sick woman in it and then took her into her house and lavished every care upon the wretched creature, who repaid her with curses and in gratitude? The saint bore it all without a murmur and even with joy, because this ill- treatment was the very thing she was in search of, and could she have found a more cross-grained old hag she would have exchanged her with pleasure. Have you learned your lesson? Try and love the “hard thing,” wish for it, ask for it provided that God wishes to send it to you, and then when it comes in the shape of an unjust, stinging word, force yourself to say (dryly), “Thank God, now I am holier.”
COMMENT: The saint Fr Doyle was referring to here is, if I am not mistaken, St Catherine of Siena, one of his favourites (I am open to correction in the comments box below if anybody knows better).
Some people may think this is a bit crazy – to love the hard thing, to seek the hard thing. We live in a culture that generally seeks indulgence and comfort and a pill for every ill. although one might add the exception of many of those who frequent gyms specifically seek out the heaviest weights and toughest exercises (the hard things) in order to prove their physical prowess.
But imagine how much more pleasant our families would be if people disciplined themselves to accept “hard things”. How much more peace there would be if people could hold their own tongues in the face of unjust and stinging words. How much better our society would be if people embraced the “hard thing” by doing their job properly – the economy would probably be healthier and banks would not have collapsed. Perhaps Fr Doyle and those like him who urge us to embrace hard things as an act of discipline were onto something after all.
Blessed John Sullivan, ordained with Fr Doyle, urged a similar approach. We shall conclude today with his thoughts.
We shall acquire personal love of our Lord by going against our own self-love, rooting it out of our hearts. The two cannot exist together. God is jealous of our love. Anything that denies self is an act of love.