Excerpts from Letters to the Friends of the Cross by St. Louis Marie de Montfort (1673-1716)
Friends of the Cross, you are like crusaders united to fight against the world....like brave and valiant warriors on the battlefield, who refuse to retreat or even yield an inch. Be brave and fight courageously....combine your efforts to acquire the eternal treasures hidden in the Cross. Pleasure-seekers unite to enjoy themselves; you must be united to suffer....
A Friend of the Cross is one chosen by God, from among thousands who live only according to their reason and senses, to be wholly divine, raised above mere reason and completely opposed to material things, living in the light of pure faith, and inspired by a deep love of the Cross.
A Friend of the Cross is an all-powerful king, a champion who triumphs over the devil, the world, and the flesh in their three-fold concupiscence. He crushes the pride of Satan by his love of humiliations; he overcomes the greed of the world by his love of poverty; he restrains the sensuality of the flesh by his love of suffering.
A Friend of the Cross is one who is holy and set apart from the things that are visible, for his heart is raised about all that is transient and perishable, and his homeland is in heaven (cf. Phil. 3:20); he travels through this world like a visitor and a pilgrim (cf. 1 Pet. 2:11), and, far from setting his heart on it, he looks on it with indifference and tramples it underfoot with contempt.
A Friend of the Cross is a glorious trophy gained by the crucified Christ on Calvary, in union with his holy Mother. He is a Benoni or Benjamin, a child of sorrow and of the right hand (cf. Gen. 35:18), conceived in the suffering heart of Jesus, born from his pierced side, and baptized in his blood (cf. Jn.19:34). True to his origin, his life embraces the cross, and death to the world, the flesh, and sin (cf. Rom. 6:2; 8, 11; 1 Pet. 2:24), so as to live here below a life hidden with Christ in God (cf. Col. 3:3).
In short, a perfect Friend of the Cross is a true Christ-bearer, or rather another Christ, so that he can truly say, "I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me." (Gal. 2:20)
My dear Friends of the Cross, do you live in accordance with the noble title you bear? Or at least, have you a real desire and a sincere determination to do so with the help of God's grace, under the shelter of Christ's Cross and of our Lady of Sorrows? Are you taking the means necessary for this? Are you walking along the true way of life (cf. Jer. 21:8), which is the narrow and stony way of Calvary?
....Do you listen to the voice of God, our heavenly Father...the Father who stretches out his arms to you in loving appeal, "Come out, my chosen people," (cf. Is. 52:11), dear friends of my Son's Cross.... Listen only to the voice of my beloved Son and follow only him, whom I have given you to be your way, your truth, your life (cf. Jn. 14:6), and your model. "Listen to him." (Mt. 17:5; Lk. 9:35)
Do you listen to the voice of Jesus who, burdened with his Cross, calls out to you, "Come after me (cf. Mt. 4:19; Mk. 1:17); anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark (cf. Jn. 8:12); be brave, I have conquered the world (cf. Jn. 16:33)."
My dear brothers and sisters, there are two companies (cf. Mt. 6:24; Lk. 16:13) that appear before you each day: the followers of Christ and the followers of the world....
....remember that our loving Savior has his eyes on you at this moment, and he says to each one of you individually, "See how almost everyone deserts me on the royal road of the Cross....'Will you also go away?' (cf. Jn. 6:68) Will you also desert me by running away from my Cross....?"
At this loving appeal of Jesus, let us rise above our human nature; let us not be seduced by our senses, as Eve was (cf. Gen. 3:6); but keep our eyes fixed on Jesus crucified, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection (Heb. 12:2). Let us keep ourselves apart from the evil practices of the world (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4); let us show our love for Jesus in the best way, that is, through all kinds of crosses. Reflect well on these remarkable words of our Savior, "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself, and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt. 16:24; Lk. 8:23).