The road to sanctification is tough. It isn’t a flat road with wild flowers on each side, but rather a rough and rocky path. Although this path may be tough, where it leads is what matters.
Saint Maria Faustina had a vision of two paths….
“…I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings” (Diary 153).
I learned a lot about these two paths while hiking two of Colorado’s beautiful peaks. Although I didn’t cry, doesn’t mean I didn’t want to at some points.
I know. This sounds pathetic.
While we were hiking up the steepest part of the mountain, every muscle in my legs were aching and tired. Then to my left I look over to see my boyfriend who was taking it all like a champ! Smiling, laughing, and even joking as we are working our way through the rocks! Each time we stopped because of my tired legs I would immediately look over to him and say “Sorry. I’m just such a wimp.” To this he would look at me with the same sweet grin and say, “It’s not meant to be easy”.
We made it through the rocky and narrow part to reach the summit, and how sweet it was! There’s something beautiful about being above the clouds. It felt almost as if Heaven was within reach. Through the celebration and the peace felt on top of that mountain, I found some clarity about the road to Sainthood.
Tim was right. “It’s not meant to be easy”.
In the spiritual life, we as a people avoid pain because it hurts and at times leaves us feeling a sense of brokenness. We wish pain away but cease to recognize what pain does to us. It prepares us for the goodness that we taste in happiness and joy. Anyone who has run long distance will tell you that the pain they felt during the run was worth the exhilaration they felt afterwards. We feel a sense of joy and satisfaction when we reach that summit, especially knowing the hard task that it took for us to get to that point!
The question remains, why is it that we feel the full extent of pain and it seems never ending, yet happiness and joy seem to pass quickly? I experienced this. The joy of being above the clouds lasted a good while but then there was the realization that we still had yet another peak to climb, and a long road down the mountain, away from the breath taking view, and beneath the clouds that would be waiting for us. Venerable Fulton Sheen explains that this lasting pain and fleeting happiness occurs because, “pain was meant to be exhausted in this life. Joys are not, because they belong to another existence”.
Joy and happiness will be fulfilled where pain ceases to exist… Heaven.
The suffering that we feel here on earth has no place in Heaven! Isn’t that wonderful? We suffer because we are allowed to suffer here and must do so for Christ and with Christ. Our spiritual life will make us feel pain at times, so how do we make that pain bearable?
Tim demonstrated this perfectly on our hike. Without annoyance or comparison he lifted my spirits when I was down. He showed me that even though we feel pain we can still smile, laugh, and joke. We learn to love more thoroughly and completely when we love during the most painful times of our lives. Seriously… If this isn’t some amazing marriage prep, I don’t know what is.
The road to Sainthood is a road to Calvary. Whatever your cross may be; chastity, sobriety, modesty, faith, or so on. Realize that the summit is there! You are making your way when you choose the rough path to rid yourself of temptation and sin! Don’t let the devil tell you that you’re so far away it would be better to turn around, because if you turn around now you will miss out on the beauty that awaits.
If Heaven is to be far greater than being high above the clouds in beautiful Colorado, I can only imagine how beautiful it will be! Now’s your chance to decide…
Which path will you take?