Josemaría Escrivá Obras

If you're not struggling, it's no use telling me that you are really trying to become more closely identified with Christ, to know him and love him. When we set out seriously along the royal highway, that of following Christ and behaving as children of God, we soon realise what awaits us: the Holy Cross. We must see it as the central point upon which to rest our hope of being united with Our Lord.

Let me warn you that the programme ahead is not an easy one. It takes an effort to lead the kind of life Our Lord wants. Listen to the account St Paul gives of the incidents and sufferings he encountered in carrying out the will of Jesus: 'Five times the Jews scourged me, and spared me but one lash in forty; three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned; I have been shipwrecked three times, I have spent a night and a day as a castaway at sea. What journeys I have undertaken, in danger from rivers, in danger from robbers, in danger from my own people, in danger from the gentiles; danger in cities, danger in the wilderness, danger in the sea, danger among false brethren! I have met with toil and weariness, so often been sleepless, hungry and thirsty; so often denied myself food, gone cold and naked. And all this, over and above something else which I do not count; I mean the burden I carry every day, my anxious care for all the churches.'

In these conversations we have with Our Lord, I like to keep very close to everyday reality and avoid dreaming up theories or imagining great hardships and heroic exploits, which seldom happen. What is important is to make good use of time, that time which is always slipping from our grasp and which to a Christian is more precious than gold, because it represents a foretaste of the glory that will be granted us hereafter.

Naturally, the difficulties we meet in our daily lives will not be as great or as numerous as St Paul encountered. We will, however, discover our own meanness and selfishness, the sting of sensuality, the useless, ridiculous smack of pride, and many other failings besides: so very many weaknesses. But are we to give in to discouragement? Not at all. Together with St Paul, let us tell Our Lord, 'I am well content with these humiliations of mine, with the insults, the hardships, the persecutions, the times of difficulty I undergo for Christ; for when I am weakest, then I am strongest of all.'

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