Sunday, September 14, 2014

Friends of the Cross, Part 1

Editor's Note:  Friends, today, I present to you the first portion of the Letter to the Friends of the Cross, by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, one of our spiritual mentors.  If we are to be Crusaders of the Immaculate, does that not imply that we are, in spirit at least, Friends of the Cross?

The original is found on the EWTN Website

1. Since the divine Cross keeps me in retirement and prevents me from speaking to you personally, I cannot, and I do not even desire to express by word of mouth the feelings of my heart on the excellence and the practices of your Association in the sacred Cross of Christ.
However, on this last day of my retreat, I leave the delights of the interior life to develop on paper a few little points on the Cross with which to pierce your generous hearts. Would to God I could use the blood of my veins rather than the ink of my pen! But, alas, even if blood were required, mine would not be good enough. I pray rather that the Spirit of the living God may be the life, strength, and guiding hand of this letter; that his unction may be my ink, the holy Cross my pen, and your hearts my book.

2. Friends of the Cross, you are like crusaders united to fight against the world; not like Religious who retreat from the world lest they be overcome, but like brave and valiant warriors on the battle- field, who refuse to retreat or even yield an inch. Be brave and fight courageously.
You must be joined together in a close union of mind and heart, which is stronger and far more formidable to the world and to hell than are the armed forces of a great nation to its enemies. Evil spirits are united to destroy you; you must be united to crush them. The avaricious are united to make money and amass gold and silver; you must combine your efforts to acquire the eternal treasures hidden in the Cross. Pleasure-seekers unite to enjoy themselves; you must be united to suffer.
A. Greatness of Your Title
3. You call yourselves "Friends of the Cross." What a glorious title! I must confess that I am charmed and captivated by it. It is brighter than the sun, higher than the heavens, more magnificent and resplendent than all the titles given to kings and emperors. It is the glorious title of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. It is the genuine title of a Christian.
4. But, if I am captivated by its splendour, I am no less frightened by its responsibility, for it is a title that embraces difficult and inescapable obligations, summed up in the words of the Holy Spirit, "A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people set apart."
A Friend of the Cross is one chosen by God, from among thousands who live only according to their reason and senses, to be wholly divine, raised above mere reason and completely opposed to material things, living in the light of pure faith, and inspired by a deep love of the Cross.
A Friend of the Cross is an all-powerful king, a champion who triumphs over the devil, the world and the flesh in their three-fold concupiscence. He crushes the pride of Satan by his love of humiliations; he overcomes the greed of the world by his love of poverty; he retrains the sensuality of the flesh by his love of suffering.
A Friend of the Cross is one who is holy and set apart from the things that are visible, for his heart is raised above all that is transient and perishable, and his homeland is in heaven; he travels through this world like a visitor and a pilgrim, and, far from setting his heart on it, he looks on it with indifference and tramples it underfoot with contempt.
A Friend of the Cross is a glorious trophy gained by the crucified Christ on Calvary, in union with his holy Mother. He is a Benoni or Benjamin, a child of sorrow and of the right hand, conceived in the suffering heart of Jesus, born from his pierced side, and baptised in his blood. True to his origin, his life embraces the cross, and death to the world, the flesh, and sin, so as to live here below a life hidden with Christ in God.
In short, a perfect Friend of the Cross is a true Christ-bearer, or rather another Christ, so that he can truly say, "I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me."
5. My dear Friends of the Cross, do you live in accordance with the noble title you bear? Or, at least, have you a real desire and a sincere determination to do so with the help of God's grace, under the shelter of Christ's Cross and of our Lady of Sorrows? Are you taking the means necessary for this? Are you walking along the true way of life, which is the narrow and stony way of Calvary? Or are you, without perhaps realizing it, on the wide road of the world which leads to perdition? Are you aware that there is a highway which is to all appearances a straight and safe road, but which really leads to eternal death?
6. Do you clearly distinguish the voice of God and his grace from that of the world and of human nature? Do you listen to the voice of God, our heavenly Father, pronouncing his three-fold malediction on all who follow the desires of the world: "Woe, woe, woe to all the people on earth;" the Father who stretches out his arms to you in loving appeal, "Come out, my chosen people," dear friends of my Son's Cross, away from worldlings, who have been cursed by myself, rejected by my Son, and condemned by my Holy Spirit? Beware of following their counsels, of sitting in their company, or even lingering on the road they take. Hasten away from the infamous Babylon. Listen only to the voice of my beloved Son and follow only him, whom I have given you to be your way, your truth, your life, and your model. (Ipsum audite.) "Listen to him."
Do you listen to the voice of Jesus who, burdened with his Cross, calls out to you, "Come after me; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark; be brave; I have conquered the world."?

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