Evening Meditations for the Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation

CONFORMITY TO THE WILL OF GOD

XI. SPECIAL PRACTICES OF THIS VIRTUE.

I.

We may at times have to suffer the loss of persons who, in either a temporal or spiritual point of view, happen to be of service to us. This is a matter in regard to which devout people are often very faulty, through their want of resignation to the Divine dispensations. Our sanctification must come, not from spiritual directors, but from God. It is, indeed, His will that we should avail ourselves of directors as spiritual guides, when He gives them to us; but when He takes them away, He wills that we should rest content, and increase our confidence in His goodness, saying at such times: Lord, it is Thou Who hast given me this assistance; now Thou hast taken it from me; may Thy will be ever done; but I pray Thee now to supply my wants Thyself, and to teach me what I ought to do to serve Thee. And in the same way ought we to receive all other crosses from the hands of God. but so many troubles, you say, are chastisements. But, I ask in reply, are not the chastisements God sends us in this life acts of kindness and benefits? If we have offended Him, we have to satisfy Divine justice in some way or other, either in this life or in the next. Therefore we ought all of us to say with St. Augustine, “Here burn, here cut, here do not spare; that so Thou mayest spare in eternity”; and again, with holy Job: And that this may be my comfort, that, afflicting me with sorrow, he spare not (Job vi. 10). It should, too, be a consolation to one who has deserved hell to see that God is punishing him in this world; because this will give him good hopes that it may be God’s will to deliver him from punishment eternal. Let us, then, say when suffering the chastisements of God what was said by Heli the high priest: It is the Lord; let him do what is good in his sight (1 Kings, iii. 18).

II.

We must be conformed to God’s will in times of spiritual desolation. When a soul begins to lead a spiritual life, the Lord is accustomed to heap consolations on it in order to wean it from the pleasures of the world; but afterwards, when He sees it more settled in spiritual ways, He holds His hand, in order to try its love, and to see whether it serves and loves Him unrecompensed and deprived of spiritual joys. “While we are living here below,” St. Teresa writes, “our gain does not consist in any increase of enjoyment of God, but in the performance of His will.” And in another passage: “The love of God does not consist in tenderness, but in serving Him with constancy and humility.” And again, elsewhere: “By means of drynesses and temptations the Lord tries the fidelity of those who love Him.” Let the soul then thank the Lord when He caresses it with sweetness; but not torment itself by acts of impatience, when it finds itself left in desolation. This is a point which should be well attended to; for some foolish persons, finding themselves in a state of aridity, think that God has abandoned them; or, that the spiritual life was not for them; and so they leave off prayer, and lose all they have gained. There is no time better for exercising resignation to the will of God than the time of dryness. I am not saying that you will not suffer pain at seeing yourself bereft of the sensible presence of God, for it is impossible for a soul not to feel such pain as this. Neither can we refrain from lamentation, when our Redeemer Himself upon His Cross complained: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matt. xxvii. 46). But, in its sufferings, it should ever resign itself perfectly to the will of its Lord. This spiritual desolation and abandonment is what all the Saints have suffered. “What hardness of heart,” said St. Bernard, “do I not experience! I no longer find any delight in reading, no longer any pleasure in meditation or in prayer.”

Leave a Reply