Wednesday, 27 February 2013


I often feel very weak and small when I compare myself to other people, such as the Saints and certain people I know personally; and I am inclined to feel ashamed of this weakness. These people have all had heavy crosses to bear, and they manifestly do not give way under the weight of these crosses. But I? I have a fairly good life. It has its ups and downs, of course, and its many little crosses; but nothing which would seem particularly significant or worth complaining about. And yet I am so easily tempted to discouragement and frustration, drawn into depression and sadness by these little things. I so easily give way under small burdens, making these small things seem so much bigger and heavier than they really ought to be.  Most of my suffering, then, would seem to be purely psychological. In light of all this, to compare myself to other people has honestly become quite humiliating to me. Why am I so weak?

The truth is that different things pose different burdens to different people. God sends us trials and sufferings according to our own abilities; it's mostly relative. What is a light burden for someone else can often be a heavy burden for me. As humiliating as this may be, at first, there is something that must be realized here: my weakness is permitted by God, in order to purify me of my self-love. I should completely abandon myself to God's Will, even where He permits certain flaws and weaknesses in me. 

Further, I ought to recognize that I can be as holy a Saint as anybody else even if, absolutely speaking, my burden is lighter than theirs. This is something St. Therese is quite insistent upon. She teaches "The Little Way," an essential component of which is the truth that we can attain to a perfect degree of holiness and love of God no matter how weak we are, no matter how little. This is because each and every person has his own cup filled to the brim, even if one person's cup is smaller than another's. Both cups are equally full, even if they do not contain the same amount in them. Our sufferings and trials are exactly proportioned to our own personal capabilities, which are different from each other's. And within the compass of each person's capabilities, each one is able to attain a perfect degree of holiness. 

I believe it is one of St. Therese's letters to her sister Celine that she makes the point that, even if we have not the strength to bear the sufferings of the martyrs, we nonetheless have the ability to attain a perfect degree of holiness and love of God in the smaller sufferings that we can endure. We need not perform the same actions as the martyrs and offer the same sacrifices; but we can have the same love that they had, the same love that motivated their actions. That love can also motivate our actions, causing us to use every ounce of what little strength we have and to bear whatever weight we can accordingly. We can fill our cup to its brim, even if contains less in it than a bigger cup; but both cups will be full. I can bear the greatest amount of suffering I can handle and still overflow with the love of God, even if someone else stronger is enduring more suffering than I am. And we can both be perfect.

So really, I oughtn't to be discouraged by my weakness, as compared to the other Saints. Of course, I should be saddened by my falls and failures and always seek to correct them; but I ought to recognize in these same failures my weakness, and never be discouraged by them, knowing that God is using them for my own good, as He always does.

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