Evening Meditations for the Twentieth Thursday After Pentecost~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation

CONFORMITY TO THE WILL OF GOD

X. SPECIAL PRACTICES OF THIS VIRTUE

I.

It will often happen we shall find ourselves without doctor or medicine; or, again, our medical attendant may not clearly understand our complaint; and here, too, we must be in a state of conformity to the Divine will, which ordains it to be so for our good. It is related of one who had a devotion to St. Thomas of Canterbury, that, being unwell, he went to the tomb of the Saint to obtain his recovery. He returned home in good health; but then he said within himself: But if the sickness would have been a greater help towards my salvation, what benefit shall I gain from the health I now have? With this thought in his mind, he went back to the tomb, and prayed the Saint to ask for him of God that which was the more expedient for his eternal salvation; and after doing this, he relapsed into the sickness, and bore it with perfect contentment, holding it for certain that God ordained it to be so for his good. There is a similar anecdote related by Surius, of a certain blind man who received his sight through the intercession of the Bishop St. Vedast; but afterwards prayed that, if his sight was not expedient for his soul, he might return to his former state of blindness; and after this prayer he continued blind as before. In times of sickness, then, it is best to abandon ourselves to the will of God, that He may dispose of us as pleases Him. But if we wish for good health let us ask for it with resignation at least, and on the condition that health of the body be for the health of the soul; otherwise a prayer to this effect will be faulty, and rejected, because the Lord does not listen to such prayers when not accompanied by resignation.

II.

I call the time of sickness the touchstone by which souls are tried, for then is ascertained a man’s real virtue. If he does not lose his tranquillity, makes no complaints, and is not over-anxious, but obeys his medical adviser and his superiors, preserving throughout the same peacefulness of mind, in perfect resignation to the Divine will, it is a sign that he possesses great virtue. But what, then must one say of the sick person who laments and says that he receives but little assistance from others; that his sufferings are intolerable; he can find no remedy to do him good; that his medical man is ignorant; at times complaining even to God that His hand presses too heavily upon him? St. Bonaventure relates of St. Francis, that when the Saint was suffering pains of an extraordinary severity, one of his Religious, who was somewhat artless, said to him: “My Father, pray to God to treat you with a little more gentleness; for it seems that He lays His hand upon you too heavily.” St. Francis, on hearing this, cried aloud, and said to him in reply: “Listen; if I did not know that you spoke from your simplicity, I would never see your face again — daring, as you have done, to find fault with the judgments of God.” And after saying this, extremely enfeebled and emaciated through his sickness though he was, he threw himself from his bed upon the floor and kissing it, said: “Lord, I thank Thee for all the sufferings Thou sendest me. I pray Thee to send me more, if it so please Thee. It is my delight for Thee to afflict me, and not to spare me in the least, because the fulfilment of Thy will is the greatest consolation I can receive in this life.”

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