V.-HOW TO CONVERSE CONTINUALLY AND FAMILIARLY WITH GOD
Think of the Lord in goodness. In these words the Wise Man exhorts us to have more confidence in God’s Mercy than dread of His divine Justice, for God is immeasurably more inclined to bestow favours than to punish. Mercy exalteth itself above judgment.
Think of the Lord in goodness-(Wis. i. I). In these words the Wise Man exhorts us to have more confidence in the divine mercy than dread of the divine justice; since God is immeasurably more inclined to bestow favours than to punish; as St. James says, Mercy exalteth itself above judgment-(James ii. 13). Hence the Apostle St. Peter tells us that in all fears, whether about our interests for time or for eternity, we should commit ourselves altogether to the goodness of our God, Who has the greatest care of our safety: Casting all your care upon him, for he hath care of you-(1 Peter v. 7). Oh, what a beautiful meaning does this lend to the title which David gives to the Lord, when he says that our God is the God Who makes it His care to save: Our God is the God of salvation-(Ps. lxvii. 21), which signifies, as Bellarmine explains it, that the office peculiar to the Lord is, not to condemn, but to save all. For while He threatens with His displeasure those who disregard Him, He promises, on the other hand, His assured mercies to those who fear Him, as the divine Mother said in her Canticle: And his mercy is to them that fear him-(Luke i. 50). I set before you, devout soul, all these passages of Scripture, that when the thought disquiets you-Am I to be saved or not? Am I predestined or not?-You may take courage, and understand from the promises He makes you what desire God has to save you, if only you are resolved to serve Him and to love Him as He commands.
When you receive pleasant news, do not act like those unfaithful, thankless souls who have recourse to God in time of trouble, but in time of prosperity forget and forsake Him. Be as faithful to Him as you would to a friend who loves you and rejoices in your good; and, go therefore, at once and tell Him of your gladness, and praise Him and give Him thanks, acknowledging it all as a gift from His hands; and rejoice in that happiness because it comes to you of His good pleasure. Rejoice, therefore, and comfort yourself in Him alone: I will receive in the Lord and I will joy in God my Jesus-(Habac. ii. 18). Say to Him: My Jesus, I bless, and will ever bless Thee, for granting me so many favours, when I deserved at Thy hands not favours, but chastisements for the affronts I have offered Thee. All fruits, the new and the old, my Beloved, I have kept for thee-(Cant. vii. 13). Lord, I give Thee thanks; I keep in memory all Thy bounties, past and present, to render Thee praise and glory for them for ever and ever.
But if you love your God, you ought to rejoice more in His blessedness than in your own. He who loves a friend very much, sometimes takes more delight in that friend’s good name than if it were his own. Comfort yourself, then, in the knowledge that your God is infinitely blessed. Often say to Him: My beloved Lord, I rejoice more in Thy blessedness than in any good of mine; yes, for I love Thee more than I love myself.
Another mark of confidence highly pleasing to your most loving God is this: that when you have committed any fault, you be not ashamed to go at once to His feet and seek His pardon. Consider that God is so greatly inclined to pardon sinners that He laments their perdition, when they depart far from Him and live as dead to His grace. Therefore does He lovingly call them, saying: Why will you die, O house of Israel? Return ye, and live-(Ezech. xviii. 31, 32). He promises to receive the soul that has forsaken Him, as soon as she returns to His arms: Turn ye to me, … and I will turn to you-(Zach. i. 3). Oh, if sinners did but know with what tender mercy the Lord stands waiting to forgive them! The Lord waiteth, that he may have mercy on you-(Is. xxx. 18). Oh, did they but know the desire He has, not to chastise, but to see them converted, that He may embrace them, that He may press them to His Heart! He declares: As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live-(Ezech. xxxiii. 11). He even says: And then come and accuse me, saith the Lord: if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow-(Is. i. 18). As though He had said: Sinners, repent of having offended Me; if I do not pardon you, accuse me; upbraid Me, and treat Me as one unfaithful. But no, I will not be wanting to My promise. If you will come, know this: that though your consciences are dyed deep as crimson by your sins, I will make them by My grace as white as snow. In a word, God has declared that when a soul repents of having offended Him, He forgets all its sins: I will not remember all his iniquities-(Ezech. xviii., 22).