CONFORMITY TO THE WILL OF GOD
IX. SPECIAL PRACTICES OF THIS VIRTUE
We must be particularly conformed to God’s will, and resigned under pressure of corporal infirmities; and we must embrace them willingly, both in the manner, and at the time, God wills. Nevertheless, we must employ the usual remedies, for this also is what the Lord wills; but if they do us no good, let us unite ourselves to the will of God, and this will do us much more good than health. O Lord, let us then say, I have no wish either to recover or to remain sick: I will only what Thou dost will. Certainly virtue is greater, if, in times of sickness, we do not complain of our sufferings; but when these press hard upon us, it is not a fault to make them known to our friends, or even to pray to God to liberate us from them. I am speaking now of sufferings that are really severe; for there are many who, with very great fault in every trifling pain or weariness, would have the whole world come to compassionate them, and shed tears of pity for them. Even Jesus Christ, on seeing the near approach of His most bitter Passion, manifested to His disciples what He suffered: My soul is sorrowful even unto death (Matt. xxvi. 38), and He prayed the Eternal Father to liberate Him from it: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me (Ibid. 39). But Jesus Himself has taught us what we ought to do after praying in like manner — namely straightway to resign ourselves to the Divine will, adding, as He did: Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou willest.
How foolish those are who say that they wish for health in order to render greater service to God, by the observance of the rules, by serving the community, by going to church, by receiving Holy Communion, by doing penance, by study, by employing themselves in the saving of souls, or by hearing Confessions, and by preaching! But, I wish you would tell me why it is that you desire to do these things. You will say it is to please God. And why go out of your way in order to do this; certain, as you are, that what pleases God is not that you keep the rules, receive Communion, do acts of penance, study, or preach sermons, but that you suffer with patience the infirmity or the pains which He sees fit to send you? Unite your own sufferings, then, to those of Jesus Christ. But, you may answer: I am troubled that, in consequence of being such an invalid, I am useless and burdensome to everybody. But as you resign yourself to the will of God, so you ought to believe that your Superiors, too, resign themselves, seeing, as they do, that it is not through any laziness of yours, but through the will of God, that this burden is upon the house. Ah, these desires and regrets do not spring from our love of God, but from our love of self, which is hunting after excuses for departing from the will of God! Is it our wish to give pleasure to God? Let us say, then, whenever we are ill: Fiat voluntas Tua. Thy will be done. And let us be ever repeating it, even for the hundredth or thousandth time; and by this alone we shall give more pleasure to God than by all the mortifications and devotions we might perform. There is no better way of serving God than by cheerfully embracing His will. The Blessed Father Avila wrote thus to a priest who was an invalid: “My friend, do not stop to think of all you might do if you were well, but be content to remain unwell as long as God shall please. If your object be to do the will of God, how can it be of more consequence for you to be well than ill?” And certainly this was wisely said; for God is not glorified so much by our works as by our resignation and conformity to His holy will. And therefore St. Francis de Sales used to say that we serve God more by suffering than by working.