A Commentary on the Only Road to Heaven by Sr. Gertrude, Our Lady of the Redwoods Abbey

Nobody knows himself who has not suffered.
(Alfred de Musset, 1810-1857)

Just yesterday afternoon I was engaged in a discussion about the value of suffering, how we grow when we suffer and carry afflictions, that is, if we are open to the graces offered to us in difficult times. However, we certainly don’t need to go look for suffering, difficulties arise come what may. Then in preparation for today’s commemoration of Saint Rose of Lima, I turned to the Office of Readings. What will you do with whatever ails you today? Jesus, Infinite Goodness, have mercy on us.

Our Lord and Savior lifted up His voice and said with incomparable majesty: “Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase, Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.”

Warm greetings from the voice behind the text. I am Sr Gertrude, the newest addition to the community at Redwoods. Two people inspire me to share with you, namely, St Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) and Cardinal Basil Hume (d. 1999). St Thomas taught that we are to pass onto others the fruit of our contemplation. Cardinal Hume once said: ‘there should be in every monk a potential Trappist,’ or rather, ‘there should be a little regret that this great vocation was not offered to us. If we have that thought within us, we will be saved from activism: will be spared the danger of failing to see the hand of God in our lives, the hand of God in our work.’ I hold a Doctorate in Sacred Theology and enjoy reading novels and keeping fit.