For St. Gaspar the cross was the only book we would need. St. Maria de Mattias said, "The cross is always dear to those who truly love Jesus." For all the saints the cross stands at the center of our lives. For Francis de Sales it was the only road to heaven. Here alone one learns the lessons of love, not in formulas, prayers, or sermons, but in a life given. The cross is the chair of truth. Here we see truly humankind at its worst, crucifying the innocent one. Here, too, we see humanity at its best, in a faithful life given for others. This mystical ladder to heaven can truly only be lived, not understood. And if it is understood, it can only be grasped by one who has loved, and has struggled to love.
Our God is not an abstraction found in the pages of a book. Our God is found in this person, Jesus. God has become one with us, has experienced our pain, our wants and our disappointments. God's love is to be lived in all its frustrating difficulty by the followers of Jesus. We know that only in giving, completely, and selflessly as Jesus does, do we gain life itself. With St. Gaspar we say over and over, "Superabundo gaudio in omni tribulatione." I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation. (2 Cor. 7:4)
I remember once a couple experiencing trouble with their marriage. After many months they were communicating more effectively. One day there was a crisis. He was laid off from work. Her work was cut back. There was fear and frustration and anxiety. When they came to talk to me I noticed she was identifying with his fear rather than telling him to work harder. He was listening to her anxiousness without taking responsibility for it or telling her to settle down. I remarked how they were caring for one another and doing so well. She responded by asking, "If we are doing so well, why is life falling apart?" Well, we follow someone who died on a cross, who experienced the worst and cruelest form of capital punishment. Life will fall apart. The struggles and trials of life and love will prove us and refine us into fire tried gold. Maturity comes, for St. Gaspar, through "thorns, crosses and hardships." What we will discover in the midst of these crosses is unconditional love.
 to Sister Maria Giuseppa Pitorri, Letter 3785, Quotation 5, Strokes of the Pen V, 15:20, pg. 43