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Understanding the Hardships of the Journey


Every time we suffer a calamity in our spiritual life, we grow alarmed and think we have lost our way.

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ChristFallsCrossChrist Falling on the Way to Calvary by Raphael, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

For we have fancied an even road for ourselves, a footpath, a way strewn with flowers. Hence, upon finding ourselves in a rough way, one filled with thorns, one lacking all attraction, we think we have lost the road, whereas it is only that the ways of God are very different from our ways.

Sometimes the biographies of the saints tend to foster this illusion, when they do not fully reveal the profound story of those souls or when they disclose it only in a fragmentary manner, selecting solely the attractive and pleasing features. They call our attention to the hours that the saints spent in prayer, to the generosity with which they practiced virtue, to the consolations they received from God. We see only what is shining and beautiful, and we lose sight of the struggles, darkness, temptations, and falls through which they passed. And we think like this: Oh if I could live as those souls! What peace, what light, what love was theirs! Yes, that is what we see; but if we would look deeply into the hearts of the saints, we would understand that the ways of God are not our ways.

The ways of God for attaining perfection are ways of struggle, of dryness, of humiliations, and even of falls. To be sure, there is light and peace and sweetness in the spiritual life: and indeed a splendid light [and] a peace above anything that could be desired, and a sweetness that surpasses all the consolations of earth. There is all this, but all in its proper time; and in each instance it is something transient. What is usual and most common in the spiritual life are those periods in which we are compelled to suffer, and which disconcert us because we were expecting something different.

Most souls that live in the midst of temptations think they are doing poorly; those that have the misfortune to fall believe all is lost; those that live in desolations fancy it is their fault that God has forsaken them. Therefore it is most important in the spiritual life to realize that we are not lost when we travel those strange roads. We need only realize that they are God's ways, that it will cost us much effort to walk them, and that we shall need much abnegation to travel them. Yet they are the true ways to attain perfection.

This is J. Fraser Field, Founder of CERC. I hope you appreciated this piece. We curate these articles especially for believers like you.

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Servant of God Luis M. Martínez. "Understanding the Hardships of the Journey," from Secrets of the Interior Life. Cluny Media (2022).

Printed in the February 2024 edition of Magnificat. Used with permission.

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The Author

Archbishop Martínez († 1956) was a spiritual author and the first official Primate of Mexico. He is the author of the recently translated work Am I Not Your Mother?: Reflections on Our Lady of Guadalupe, published by Magnificat.

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