Somebody once told me that the surpassing, supreme rule of my life was deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

That “deny yourself” is the work of a soul who wants only to be hidden away, who wants nothing for himself, who longs only for divine love, and who understands that God does not want us to renounce only the world, but to renounce something much more difficult: ourselves. That self-renunciation is a renunciation of something we carry around inside of us, I don’t know how to explain it, something that truly hinders us … perhaps you’ll understand: when you place yourself at the foot of the tabernacle, and look at Jesus, and contemplate his wounds, and cry at his feet, and you realize that in the face of Christ’s immense love, you disappear, your tears disappear, your entire soul is overwhelmed and becomes like a tiny speck of sand in the vastness of the sea. …

Father Nevin Ford, OFM, Stations of the Cross #5, Santa Barbara Mission, California Used by permission.

So, then, why do we lack virtue at times? Because we aren’t simple; because we complicate our desires; because everything we want is made difficult by our weak will, which gets carried away by whatever is pleasing, comfortable, and unnecessary, and often by its passions.

We lack virtue not because it is difficult, but because we don’t want it.

We lack patience … because we don’t want it.

We lack temperance … because we don’t want it.

We lack chastity … for the same reason.

We would be saints if we wanted to be … it’s much harder to become an engineer than it is to become a saint. If only we had faith!

The interior life … the spiritual life, a life of prayer. “My God! That must be difficult!” But it’s not at all. Get rid of everything in your heart that’s in the way, and you’ll find God there. That’s it.

This reading is taken from St. Rafael Arnáiz: The Collected Works, trans. Catherine Addington (Cistercian Publications, 2022).