If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace ...
Saint Rose of Lima is a contemplative from the Americas. She’s a saint of our continent! She’s a saint calling out to us in a particular way as people of the Americas (and beyond) to live in the peace of Christ with a renewed holy confidence and urgency.
One of the options for the Liturgy of the Hours today seems to scream this, but in the tender whisper of a mother for us in such distracted times.
Our Lord and Saviour 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.”
Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase.
“When I heard these words,” St. Rose says:
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 participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul.”…
As if knowing that despite her zeal, it might be met with some skepticism still, she explains:
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! Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pains and afflictions. All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace. This is the reward and the final gain of patience. 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.
I can’t help but read that and think: She is crying out to us about what our hearts are yearning for: Something that makes sense of our lives.
Her words are the talking to we need at the tabernacle after we walk out of the very Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The world needs us to be who we say we are.
Maybe you, like me, wear a cross around your neck. But then do we live as if it’s merely a necklace? St. Rose of Lima reminds us that that cross not only means something but it means everything. It changes everything about how we look, think, talk.
It should make us gaze at people with that same authority of love with which she found herself wanting to declare to the world the power of His Divine majesty and grace.
We can come to forget in the busyness of our lives that we have a cloud of witnesses to call upon us. St. Rose of Lima’s feast day today is like a neighbor knocking on our door to remind us of who we are. Thanks be to God for the opportunity to begin again to live the love of Christ Jesus and the cross, because we know where it leads – straight to Him.