Many of us desire that ultimate union with God, but do not know how to attain it. Luckily the saints before us have trod that path and have passed on their wisdom to us.
St. John of the Cross in particular believed that if we wanted to draw closer to God, we must do that through the cross of suffering. He explains this principle in a Spiritual Canticle featured in the Church’s Office of Readings.
For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labors, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.
The Carmelite saint firmly believed that our life on earth includes much suffering. The key is to not dismiss this suffering, but to unite it to the cross and let it become a sacrifice to God. Only through suffering will we find the lasting peace and consolation we desire.
Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.
The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.
These words may not be consoling for us, but they are true. We can not seek the peace that God gives to us unless we first imitate him and find him in our suffering.