What profound peace do saints and victim-souls enjoy, despite such intense sufferings! How? … They embraced the Cross with love.
“If thou dost practice humility, thou wilt find peace; if thou wilt practice it more perfectly, thou wilt find more peace…” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero
We all yearn for that “peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The martyrs are a good example of those who possessed this God-given peace. Even amidst tortures they were able to lovingly embrace God’s will; these dear souls are now enjoying eternal peace. Sr. Josefa, though not a martyr, possessed an extraordinary peace and calmness of soul, which could not even be shaken by excruciating sufferings, which she accepted from God to save sinners.
The following advice from Jesus and several holy souls will help us to attain true peace. Their advice can be summarised into the following points:
1. LOVE. Strive to know, do, and love God’s holy will. His will alone can give us peace.
2. ABANDONMENT. Accept everything as coming from God’s will: sufferings, humiliations and the like are for our benefit. See here, for example: https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/consoling-revelations-about-suffering/
3. PURITY (avoid sin). Avoid deliberate sin. Do not focus on sin, however; focus on the love of God, especially in His Passion, and in the Holy Eucharist.
4. MEDITATE. Especially on the Passion, which Jesus has revealed will give us the strength to rise above anything! Also,
5. HUMILITY. Ask daily for this grace, pray often, and persevere in prayer. Many spend a lifetime studying to obtain earthly wealth and honour, but diligence in prayer brings us precious graces, salvation, and merit that will be enjoyed for all eternity, if we persevere.
Here are their words:
“The heart of our Divine Master has no more amiable law than that of sweetness, humility, charity. Often place your confidence in Divine Providence and be assured that sooner heaven and earth shall pass away than that the Lord neglect to protect you.” – Padre Pio
“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.” – St. Francis de Sales
“Fear starts sometimes in the soul, sometimes in the body, and the one communicates the weaknesses to the other. But if your soul is unafraid even when the body is terrified, you are close to being healed.” – St. John of the Ladder (This valuable advice for overcoming scrupulous thoughts)
“Life is often irksome and bitter; it is hard to begin a laborious day, above all when Jesus hides Himself from us. What is this tender Friend doing? Does He not then see our anguish, the load that oppresses us; where is He? Why does He not come to console us? Ah, fear not … He is there, quite near! He is watching us; He, it is, who begs for these our labours and our tears … He has need of them for souls, for our soul; He wants to give us so glorious a recompense. Ah! Truly, it costs Him to make us drink of this bitter cup, but He knows that it is the one way by which to prepare us to know Him as He knows Himself and to become ourselves God-like.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul.” – Psalm 94:19
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121:1-2
“It is above all on days of weariness, sickness, impatience, temptation, spiritual dryness, and trials, during hours of sometimes terrible anguish which press upon a soul, that holy abandonment is pleasing to God.” – Bl. Columba Marmion (God rewards holy abandonment with peace and joy)
“It is not those who commit the least faults who are most holy, but those who have the greatest courage, the greatest generosity, the greatest love, who make the boldest efforts to overcome themselves, and are not immoderately apprehensive of tripping.” – St. Francis de Sales (As Jesus said to Sr. Consolata, the happiest are also the holiest and vice versa)
“Holiness is a disposition of the heart that makes us humble and little in the arms of God, aware of our weakness, and confident- in the most audacious way- in His Fatherly goodness.” St. Therese of Lisieux
“We must not voluntarily nourish a desire to continue and persevere in venial sin of any kind. It would be an extremely foolish thing to wish deliberately to retain in our heart anything so displeasing to God as a will to offend Him.” – St. Francis de Sales (Every sin we overcome is a reason to love and thank God. Without Him we can do nothing. Jesus spoke to Sr. Josefa of a nun whose pride displeased Him; she took credit for her virtue as though it was not a gift from God. Rather, be like St. Padre Pio, who when thanked for healing people through his intercession, always said the same thing: “Don’t thank me. Thank God!”)
Finally, read carefully the words of Cardinal Cajetan on the subject of humility: “The heart of the proud man is like a stormy sea, never at rest: “Like the raging sea which cannot rest;” [Isa. lvii, 20] and the heart of the humble is fully content in its humility– “Rich in his being low” [James i, 10]– and is always calm and tranquil and without fear that anything in this world should disturb him, and shall “rest with confidence.” [Isa. xiv, 30] And from whence proceeds this difference? The humble man enjoys peace and quiet because he lives according to the rules of truth and justice, submitting his own will in all things to the Divine will. The proud man is always agitated and perturbed because of the opposition he is continually offering to the Divine will in order to fulfil his own.
The more the heart is filled with self-love, so much the greater will be its anxiety and agitation. This maxim is indeed true; for whenever I feel myself inwardly irritated, disturbed and angered by some adversity which has befallen me, I need not look elsewhere for the cause of such feelings than within myself, and I should always do well to say: If I were truly humble I should not be disquieted. My great agitation is an evident proof which ought to convince me that my self-love is great and dominant and powerful within me, and is the tyrant which torments and gives me no peace.
If I feel aggrieved by some sharp word that has been said to me, or by some discourtesy shown me, from whence does this feeling of pain proceed? From my pride alone. Oh, if I were truly humble, what calm, what peace and happiness would my soul not enjoy! And this promise of Jesus Christ is infallible: “Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.” [Matt. xi, 29]
When we are distressed by some adversity, it is unnecessary to seek consolation of those who flatter us or have pity on us, and to whom we can pour out our troubles. It is sufficient to ask our soul: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me?” [Ps. xli, 12] My soul, what hast thou? and what seekest thou? Dost thou perchance desire that rest which thou hast lost? Listen then to the remedy offered to thee by thy Saviour, exhorting thee to learn of Him to be humble, “Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart,” and further listen to what He adds when He assures thee that with thy lost humility thou shalt also recover thy peace: “And you shall find rest to your souls.”