The Hour of Trial
1. Everybody, even a Saint, has his hour of trial. God wants it this way, so that if we are victorious with the help of His grace, we can receive our reward. “One who enters a contest is not crowned unless he has competed according to the rules.” (Cf. 2 Tim. 2:5) Even the Angels were put on trial, and those haughty spirits who rebelled against God were damned forever.
Our first parents were placed on trial and because they disobeyed God's command were deprived of their supernatural gifts and exiled from their earthly paradise. Even Jesus willed to endure His hour of trial in the Garden of Gethsemane, before the Sanhedrin, before the judgment seat of Pilate, and on Mount Calvary. He desired to be tried in this way in order to teach us how to be victorious.
Our trials are of various kinds, some of which recur frequently during our lives. They may be physical, such as suffering, disease, disgrace or poverty. They may be moral trials which affect mainly the heart - the neglect of those whom we love, calumny, misunderstanding, or malice. There are also spiritual trials such as discouraging lapses into sin, or aridity of soul when it seems that the Heavenly Father has abandoned us as He abandoned Jesus in His last agony on the Cross.
How should we behave when we are tried? Jesus showed us the way when He took upon Himself the sins of all mankind and His passion began in the Garden of Gethsemane. Even before He ascended Mount Calvary and was nailed to the Cross, He experienced here all the agony and terror of His redemptive mission. Prostrate with suffering, He prayed three times: “Father, if it is possible let this cup pass away from me; yet not as I will, but as thou willest.” (Cf. Mt. 26:39-42) When we are tried, we should fervently repeat this prayer of complete resignation to the will of God.
2. Whether they are physical, moral or spiritual, these severe trials affect us greatly. We feel crushed and abandoned, lacking in the power to resist, and tend to yield to temptation or to despair. At these times we should take the Crucifix in our hands and remember the sufferings of Jesus. Let us recall His terrible physical sufferings as He was dying upon the Cross. Let us remember the sufferings of His Heart when He was betrayed be Judas, deserted by the Apostles, and rejected by His own people. Finally, let us recall His spiritual sufferings, for He who was innocence itself willed to carry the weight of all our sins and to experience in a mysterious manner the sense of abandonment by His heavenly Father.
No matter what our trial may be, let us ask Jesus for the grace of resignation and of Christian hope.
3. We should meditate on the following passage from the “Imitation of Christ:”
"O just Father, holy, and ever to be praised, the hour is come for Thy servant to be tried. O Father worthy of all love, it is fitting that Thy servant should at this hour suffer something for Thee. O Father always to be honoured, the hour is come which from all eternity Thou didst foresee would arrive; that Thy servant for a short time should be oppressed exteriorly, but interiorly should ever live unto Thee; that he should be for a little slighted and humbled, and should fail in the sight of men; that he should be severely afflicted with sufferings and languors, that so he may rise again with Thee in the dawning of a new light and be glorified in heaven.
“O holy Father, Thou hast so appointed and such is Thy will; and that has come to pass which Thou hast ordained. For this is a favour to Thy friend, that he should suffer and be afflicted in this world for the love of Thee... it is good for me, O Lord, that Thou hast humbled me...”
“Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know; to love what I ought to love; to praise that which is most pleasing to Thee; to esteem that which appeareth to Thee valuable; to abhor that which is filthy in Thy sight.” (Bk. III. c. 50)
In the light of these reflections every trial will be bearable and, by the grace of God, even welcome.