The Unlikely Path to Joy

As a culture we've never been more comfortable... 
and yet depression rates have never been higher. In fact, the professional group that sets the cultural standard also sets the standard for depression and overall messed up lives (Hollywood). 

And yet we aspire.

Maybe, just maybe- the way to peace, joy and fulfillment isn't comfort... which confines one to a prison of self. Maybe, just maybe- the way is the cross... which opens one up to the horizon of Other.

I have noticed in my life the great depth, strength, wisdom and joy in the lives of those who have suffered (with their awareness of it being in Christ). They literally reveal God to me. Like the Velvateen Rabbit, they are real.

On this theme, think about the words of Rose of Lima - whose feast we celebrate today (removed "St." though she is-- too often I think "St." makes us think ourselves a great distance from their real, lived experience- quite the contrary is true):
"If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men."

"Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart."

"Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven."

"Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty:
'Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.'"

"When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: 'Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep anticipation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul.'"

If you're suffering, consider yourself blessed to be counted worthy by the Father to share in the way of His only Son. Know you are never closer to Him than in your suffering. Do not look for an out so much as recognize you are in. In our weakness, He is strong. His grace is sufficient. Boast about it so the power of Christ can work through you. (2 Cor. 12:9)

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