Imprimi Potest, Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, 1950
Part II PRACTICES OF CHRISTIAN PERFECTION
The Divine Master's Program
13. Christian perfection consists:
14. If anyone, not many a one, shows that the elect who are willing to be made conformable to the crucified Christ by carrying their cross are few in number. It would cause us to faint away from grief to learn how surprisingly small is their number.
It is so small that among ten thousand people there is scarcely one to be found, as was revealed to several Saints, among whom St. Simon Stylita, referred to by the holy Abbot Nilus, followed by St. Basil, St. Ephrem and others. So small, indeed, that if God willed to gather them together, He would have to cry out as He did of yore through the voice of a prophet: "Come ye together one by one" (Is. 27, 12), one from this province and one from that kingdom.
I --- THE DESIRE TO BECOME A SAINT
15. If anyone wills: if a person has a real and definite determination and is prompted not by natural feelings, habit, self-love, personal interest or human respect but by an all-masterful grace of the Holy Ghost which is not communicated indiscriminately: "it is not given to all men to understand this mystery" (Matt. 13, 11). In fact, only a privileged number of men receive this practical knowledge of the mystery of the Cross. For that man who climbs up to Calvary and lets himself be nailed on the Cross with Jesus in the heart of his own country must be a brave man, a hero, a resolute man, one who is lifted up in God, who treats as muck both the world and hell, as well as his very body and his own will. He must be resolved to relinquish all things, to undertake anything and to suffer everything for Jesus.
Understand this, dear Friends of the Cross, should there be anyone among you who has not this firm resolve, he is just limping along on one foot, flying with one wing, and undeserving of your company since he is not worthy to be called a Friend of the Cross, for we must love the Cross as Jesus Christ loved it "with a great heart and a willing mind" (2 Mach. 1, 3). That kind of half-hearted will is enough to spoil the whole flock like a sheep with the scurvy. If any such one has slipped into your fold through the contaminated door of the world, then in the name of the crucified Christ, drive him out as you would a wolf from your sheepfold.
16. "If anyone will come after Me": for I have humbled Myself and reduced Myself to mere nothingness in such a way that I made Myself a worm rather than a man: "I am a worm and no man" (Ps. 21, 7). After Me: for if I came into the world, it was only to espouse the Cross: "Behold I am come" (Ps. 39, 8; Heb. 10, 7-9); to set the Cross in My heart of hearts: "In the midst of my heart" (Ps. 39, 9); to love it from the days of my youth: "I have loved it from my youth" (Wisdom 8, 2); only to long for it all the days of My life: "how straitened I am" (Luke 12, 50); only to bear it with a joy I preferred even to the joys and delights that Heaven and earth could offer: "Who, having joy set before Him, endured the Cross" (Heb. 12, 2); and, finally, not to be satisfied until I had expired in its Divine embrace.
II --- SELF-DENIAL
17. Therefore, if anyone wants to come after Me, annihilated and crucified, he must glory as I did only in the poverty, humiliation and suffering of My Cross: "let him deny himself" (Matt. 16, 24).
Far be from the Company of the Friends of the Cross those who pride themselves in suffering, the worldly-wise, elated geniuses and self-conceited individuals who are stubborn and puffed-up with their lights and talents. Far be they from us, those endless talkers who make plenty of noise but bring forth no other fruit than vain glory. Far from us those high-browed devotees everywhere displaying the self-sufficient pride of Lucifer: "I am not like the rest!" (Luke 18, 11). Far be from us those who must always justify themselves when blamed resist when attacked and exalt themselves when humbled.
Be careful not to admit into your fellowship those frail, sensitive persons who are afraid of the slightest pin-prick, who sob and sigh when faced with the lightest suffering, who have never experienced a hair-shirt, a discipline or any other penitential instrument, and who with their fashionable devotions, mingle the most artful delicacy and the most refined lack of mortification.