We must be thoroughly convinced that if the Holy Spirit works in our souls to assimilate us to Christ, He can do so only by opening to us the way of the Cross. Jesus is Jesus Crucified; therefore, there can be no conformity to Him except by the Cross, and we shall never enter into the depths of the spiritual life except by entering into the mystery of the Cross. St. Teresa of Jesus teaches that even the highest contemplative graces are given to souls only in order to enable them to carry the Cross. “His Majesty,” says the Saint, “can do nothing greater for us than to grant us a life which is an imitation of that lived by His beloved Son. I feel certain, therefore, that these favors are given to us to strengthen our weakness, so that we may be able to imitate Him in His great sufferings” (Int C VII, 4). Yes, conformity to Jesus Crucified has more value and importance than all mystical graces! The whole spiritual life is dominated by the Cross and, as the Cross is the central point in the history of the world, so it is the central point in the history of every soul. The Cross gave us life; it will imprint upon our souls the traits of the most perfect resemblance to Jesus; the more we share in His Cross, the more shall we resemble Him and cooperate in the work of Redemption.
In order to attain sanctity, it is evident that we need the Cross. To accept God’s will always and in every circumstance implies the renouncement of one’s own will; it is impossible to be conformed to Jesus in everything, “who in this life had no other pleasure, nor desired any, than to do the will of His Father” (J.C. AS I, 13,4), without renouncing one’s own selfish pleasures. And all this means: detachment, crosses, sacrifice, self-denial. It means setting out steadfastly on the way indicated by Jesus Himself: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mt 16:24). This is the path which the Holy Spirit urges and invites us to follow. Whenever we find ourselves looking for things that are easier, more commodious, or more honorable; whenever we notice that we are satisfying our self-love, our pride, or see that we are attached to our own will, let us remind ourselves that all this is far removed from the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and, what is worse, it is an obstacle to His action in us.
By courageously practicing self-denial, we begin the way of conformity to Jesus Crucified; but here, too, our initiatives are disproportionate to the end to be attained; the acts of mortification and self-denial which we make are wholly insufficient to strip us of the old man and clothe us with Christ, with Christ Crucified. That is why the Holy Spirit, after setting us on the road of the Cross by His inspirations-which tend to make us accept, for the love of God, all that is hard and painful to nature-takes it upon Himself to complete our purification. He does this by sending us trials, both exterior and interior. “We must know,” says St. John of the Cross, “that this divine fire of love. . .is wounding the soul, and destroying and consuming in it the imperfections of its bad habits; this is the operation of the Holy Spirit wherein He prepares it for divine union and the transformation of love in God” (LF, I, 19). Therefore, we must not imagine that the Holy Spirit’s action will always be consoling-quite the contrary! Suffering is necessary for our purification and, flowing from this, our participation in the redemptive work of Jesus. The farther we advance along the road of the Cross, the more we shall be sanctified and the more fruitful the apostolate we shall exercise in the Church. It is evident then, that in order to sanctify us the Holy Spirit cannot lead us by any way other than that of the Cross. It is for us to second His action, primarily by willingly accepting everything hard and painful that comes to us in our daily life. Often we neglect the Cross of daily trials and prefer one that is far away, and which perhaps, may never be sent to us. We must not seek the Cross in these extraordinary sufferings, seldom, if ever, encountered; we must look for it in the duties, the life, the difficulties, and the sacrifices of each day and each moment. Here we shall find unfathomable treasures, recognizing them by the light of faith, by the aid of the Holy Spirit who urges us to embrace these daily crosses, not merely endure them-to accept them and offer them willingly, saying with all our heart: “Yes, I want this, even though it seems to crush me!”
Such a different perspective than that attributed to the French Bishops by Amerio, who saw through the lens of Marxism the imposition of crosses on others rather than the bearing of one's own in union with Christ.