Spiritual Reading for Tuesday – Seventeenth Week After Pentecost

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading

CONFORMITY TO THE HOLY WILL OF GOD

In order to acquire a facility in doing, on all occasions, the holy will of God, we must beforehand offer ourselves continually to embrace in peace whatever God ordains or wills. Such was the practice of holy David. He would say: My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready (Ps. cvii. 2). And he continually besought the Lord to teach him to do the Divine will. Teach me to do thy will (Ps. cxlii. 10). He thus deserved to be called a man according to God’s own heart. I have found David the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills (Acts xiii. 22). And why? Because the holy king was always ready to do whatever God wished him to do.

St. Teresa offered herself to God fifty times in the day, that He might dispose of her as He pleased; and she declared her readiness to embrace either prosperity or adversity. The perfection of our oblation consists in our offering ourselves to God without reserve. All are prepared to unite themselves to the Divine will when things are prosperous, but perfection consists in conforming to it even in adversity. To thank God in all things that are agreeable to us, is acceptable to Him; but to accept with cheerfulness what is repugnant to our inclinations is still more pleasing to Him. Blessed John of Avila used to say: “A single Blessed be God! in adversity, is better than six thousand thanksgivings in prosperity.”

We should conform to the Divine will, not only in misfortunes which come directly from God — such as sickness, loss of property, privation of friends and relatives — but also in crosses which come to us from men, but indirectly from God — such as acts of injustice, defamations, calumnies, injuries, and all other sorts of persecutions. But, you may ask, does God will that others commit sin, by injuring us in our property or in our reputation? No; God wills not their sin; but He does will that we should bear with such a loss and with such a humiliation; and to conform ourselves on all such occasions to His Divine will.

Good things and evil … are from God (Ecclus. xi. 14). All blessings — such as riches and honours — and all misfortunes — such as sickness and persecutions — come from God. But mark that the Scriptures call them evils, only because we, through the want of conformity to the will of God, regard them as evils or misfortunes. For in reality, if we accepted them from the hands of God with Christian resignation, they would be blessings and not evils. The jewels which give the greatest splendour to the crown of the Saints in Heaven are the tribulations they bore with patience, as coming from the hands of the Lord. On hearing that the Sabeans had taken away all his oxen and asses, holy Job said: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away (Job i. 21). He did not say that the Lord gave, and that the Sabeans had taken away; but that the Lord gave, and that the Lord had taken away: and therefore he blessed the Lord, believing that all had happened through the Divine will. As it has pleased the Lord, so it is done; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job i. 21). Being tormented with iron hooks and burning torches, the holy Martyrs Epictetus and Atone said: “Lord, Thy will be done in us.” And their last words were: “May Thou be blessed, O Eternal God, for having given us the grace to accomplish Thy will.”

Whatsoever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad (Prov. xii. 21). A soul that loves God is not disturbed by any misfortune that may happen to her. Cesarius relates that a certain monk who did not perform greater austerities than his companions wrought many miracles. Being astonished at this, the Abbot asked him one day what were the works of piety he practised. He answered, that he was more imperfect than the other monks; but that his sole concern was to conform himself to the Divine will. Were you displeased, said the Abbot, with the person who injured us so grievously a few days ago? No, Father, replied the monk; I on the contrary, thanked God for it; because I know that He does or permits all things for our good. From this answer the Abbot perceived the sanctity of the good Religious. We should act in a similar manner under all the crosses that come upon us. Let us always say: Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight (Matt. xi. 26). Lord, this is pleasing to Thee, let it be done.

He that acts in this manner enjoys that peace which the Angels announced at the Birth of Jesus Christ to men of good will — that is, to those whose wills are united to the will of God. These, as the Apostle says, enjoy that peace which exceeds all earthly delights. The peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding (Phil. iv. 7). A great and solid peace, which is not liable to change. A holy man continueth in wisdom like the sun; but a fool is changed like the moon (Ecclus. xxvii. 12). Fools — that is, sinners — are changed like the moon, which increases today and wanes tomorrow; today they are seen to laugh through folly, tomorrow to weep through despair; today they are humble and meek; tomorrow proud and furious. In a word, sinners change with prosperity and adversity; but the just are like the sun, always the same, always serene in whatever happens to them. In the inferior part of the soul they cannot but feel some pain at the misfortunes which befall them; but, as long as the will remains united to the will of God, nothing can deprive them of that spiritual joy which is not subject to the vicissitudes of this life. Your joy no man shall take from you (Jo. xvi. 22).

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