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Monday, November 6, 2023

Reflecting on Splinters from the Cross

Be careful what you pray for. God has a sense of humor. (How else could we have one?) He often illustrates it when answering prayer. Once when I was praying for patience, I had two quick opportunities to practice it. The first was when I lodged a spoon in the garbage disposal so tightly it was impossible to get out. I ended up calling a repairman. It was a bit mortifying, so God clearly was using humiliation to magnify the lesson. Then I backed into the fencepost in our driveway which not only invited me to practice patience, but my poor husband as well who had to fix it. I stopped praying for patience.

Recently I was reading St. Louis de Montfort’s Letter to Friends of the Cross. It is jam-packed with admonitions and advice on embracing the cross in order to grow in the spiritual life. The same day I uploaded the post my husband and I went to visit my sister in a nursing home an hour and half away in Frederick, MD. Usually I check the route, but neglected to do so that day. We got to Harpers Ferry and, lo and behold, the road was closed. Apparently, they were working on the bridge crossing the Shenandoah. We had to backtrack for half an hour to take a different route. Just a tiny splinter from the cross. It gave us another half hour of conversation with my husband and time to pray a rosary before we got to the nursing home.

Once there I tried to resolve a problem my sister was having with her phone. I ended up in a 30 minute telephone conversation with a tech who then suggested we go to Westminster’s Target where they had a tech to help. She even scheduled an appointment. Lovely young gal! So off we went for the 50 minute jaunt to repair the phone. We arrived for the appointment only to find there was no one there and wouldn’t be for a month. How can a large phone company not have an automated system to tell you no appointments are available? Even more frustrating was that the trip to Westminster took us another hour away from home, now 2 ½ hours away. Just another splinter, I thought.

We sighed, called my sister to say we would have to take her phone home to resolve the problem, and decided to break for dinner since we’d skipped lunch. We sat at the table and laughed about our day so far. I checked the route home. Shortest time was via I 70 and I 81. It would save us about fifteen minutes. So we started off on the next leg of our adventure. Once we reached I 70 we thought we were home free. Two hours and 15 minutes to home.

Not so fast! Shortly after we got on the highway, things slowed to a crawl. It took an hour to go about 15 miles. My blood pressure definitely spiked at that point, but we prayed two more rosaries and listened to an episode of the Crisis in the Church series. Was this a little retreat rather than a big inconvenience?

We never saw a sign of anything significant to cause such a traffic jam, but from that point things were pretty clear until we got back to home territory. Sigh! Another serious slow down. Fortunately, we were near an exit and decided to take the back way home. I was driving; it was pitch dark, and I said to my husband. “I can’t deal with another traffic mess.” At that point I was afraid the last straw would be to get home and find raccoons had gotten into our chicken coop and killed all our chickens. They don’t free range, but during the day we have only a screen door with two latches to protect them, definitely not raccoon proof. So the rest of the way home I prayed to St. Isadore and all the saint farmers and monks to protect our little flock. Thankfully, we found the girls all perched and quiet and so our day ended for us in the same way: a cup of tea, nighttime prayers, and a good book. A trip that usually takes four hours (three hours of travel time and an hour visit with my sister) consumed ten hours.

In his Letter to the Friends of the Cross, St. Louis de Montfort offers this advice about suffering:
Take advantage of little sufferings even more than of great ones. God considers not so much what we suffer as how we suffer. To suffer a great deal, but badly, is to suffer like the damned; to suffer much, even bravely, but for an evil cause is to suffer as a disciple of the devil; to suffer little or much for God’s sake is to suffer like a saint....Do not allow the tiniest piece of the true Cross to be lost, even though it be only an insect-sting or a pin prick.....Turn everything to profit as a grocer does in his shop and you will soon become rich before God, just as the grocer becomes rich in money by adding penny to penny in his till. At the least annoyance say, “Thank you, Lord, Your will be done.”
Life is filled with little opportunities to give God a penny, tiny gifts that please Our Lord, Our Lady, the saints and angels. Doesn’t a mother love it when her child brings her a dandelion or a father his little one’s hug? We had a blessed opportunity to give God something tiny and insignificant the other day. I thank Him that I had just been reading about the cross. How different my attitude about those frustrations could have been without God’s grace. 

Deo gratias.


  1. What a good essay on how to offer your whole day to the Lord. How nice of you to visit your sister. I hope she enjoyed it. Have a good day. Your blog has been helpful to my growth in my spiritual life. Thank you.


  2. Thank you for your kind comment. May God bring us all merrily to heaven.