Choose Your Own Cross?

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St Gertrude was praying for someone whom she pitied because she had heard that she had spoken impatiently, asking God why He sent her trials which she considered unsuitable for her.

The Lord said to Gertrude: “Ask her what kind of trials would suit her, and tell her that, since she cannot enter the Kingdom of God without at least some trials, she should now choose the ones she thinks would suit her; and when they come to her, let her be patient.”

By these words of the Lord, Gertrude understood how very dangerous it is to imagine that one would be patient under certain circumstances of one’s own choosing, but not in those which the Lord sends one. Whereas, on the contrary, we should always be quite sure that what God sends is the best, and if one fails to be patient that should be a source of humiliation.

And the Lord added, in tones of coaxing love: “And what do you think about it? Aren’t the trials I send you most unsuitable?”

Gertrude rejoined: “O my Lord, not at all! Rather, I profess, and to my last breath I shall profess it, that both in body and soul, in everything, whether in prosperity or adversity, You provide for me in the way that is most suitable; and that no wisdom from the beginning of the world to the end could ever have been able to do it save only Yours, the one and uncreated Wisdom, my sweetest God, reaching from end to end mightily and ordering all things sweetly!” (Wsd 8:1).

– Saint Gertrude of Helfta (1256-1301), Benedictine nun, The Herald of Divine Love, Book III, SC 143 (trans. Margaret Winkworth, © New York: Paulist Press, 1993, p. 235)

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