Once when I was meditating on the great suffering Christ endured on the cross, I contemplated the nails that – I’d heard said – had driven a little bit of the flesh from his hands and feet into the wood. I wanted to see the bit of Christ’s flesh that the nails had driven into the wood. When I saw it, my grief over the pain Christ endured was so great, I could no longer stand. I bent over and sat down. I stretched out my arms on the ground in front of me and lay my head on them.
Then Christ showed me his throat and arms. At that point my grief was changed into such intense joy, I can’t describe it. This joy was new, not like all the others. The joy in me was absolutely certain, and the stunning beauty of Christ’s throat and neck convinced me that my vision was divine. This beauty persuaded me that I was in God’s presence.
I don’t know how to describe that brightness and the clarity of my vision. I can’t think of anything to compare it to. No colour in the world will do, except perhaps the lucidity and brilliance of Christ’s body I sometimes see when celebrating the Eucharist.
[Angela of Foligno, Memorial]
Then I heard my Saviour speak this sweet message, “My son, he who embraces me, embraces thorns.” Do you believe, my daughter, that my soul fails to understand that our Jesus is a sea of infinite sweetness? Certinaly, I have understood that, but God made me understand something further with the words, “He who embraces me, embraces thorns.” Just as our good Jesus willed that his life on earth should be passed always in the midst of the thorns of pain, sufferings, fatigues, privation, agony, contempt, calumny, sorrow, nails, thorns, and a most bitter death on the cross, so he made me understand that in embracing him, I would have to live my life in the midst of pain.
[Letter of St. Paul of the Cross to Agnes Grazi, 29th August 1737]