Saturday, 5 March 2011

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXXVI

The Conformity to the Will of God
“And life in his good will.” – Ps. xxix. 6.
Excellence of this Virtue.
All our salvation and perfection consists in loving God. He that loveth not, abideth in death.1 Charity, which is the bond of perfection.2 But the perfection of love consists in conformity to the divine will; for, as St. Denis the Areopagite says, the principal effect of love is, to unite the will of lovers, so that they may have but one heart and one will. Hence our actions, our works of penance our Communions and alms-deeds, please God only inasmuch as they are conformable. to the divine will; for, if they are not conformable to the will of God, they are not good works, but are defective, and deserving of chastisement.
Our Saviour came down from heaven principally to teach us by example to conform ourselves to the will of God. Behold what he said, as the apostle writes, at his entrance into this world. Sacrifice and oblation Thou wouldst not: but a body Thou hast fitted to me. . . . Then, said I, behold I come, ... that I should do Thy will, O my God.3 Thou, O my Father! hast refused the victims offered by men; Thou wishest that, by my death, I should sacrifice this body which Thou hast given me; behold me ready to do Thy will. This he frequently declared, saying, that he came on earth only to do the will of his Father. I came down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him that sent Me.4 And by going to die through obedience to the will of his Father, he wished to make known to us his great love for his Father. That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father hath given Me commandment, so do I. Arise; let us go hence.5 Hence he has said that he acknowledges for his disciples only those who fulfil the divine will. Whosoever shall do the will of My Father that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.6 The accomplishment of the divine will has been the only object and desire of the saints in all their works. Blessed Henry Suso used to say: “I would rather be the vilest worm on earth in conformity to the will of God, than be a seraph with my own will.” St. Teresa says: “All that he who practises prayer should seek is, to conform his will to the divine will; and let him be assured,” adds the saint, “that in this consists the highest perfection. He who practises it best, will receive the greatest gifts from God, and will make the greatest progress in spiritual life.” The blessed in heaven love God perfectly, because they are in all things conformed to the divine will. Hence Jesus Christ has taught us to do the will of God on earth as the saints do it in heaven. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.7 He who does the will of God, will, as David says, become a man according to God’s own heart. I have found a man according to My own heart, who shall do all My wills.8 And why? Because David was always prepared to do whatever God wished. My heart is ready, O my God, my heart is ready.9 He asked nothing else from the Lord, than to teach him to do his will.10
Oh! how great is the value of an act of perfect resignation to the will of God: it is sufficient to make a saint! While St. Paul was persecuting the Church, Jesus appeared to him, enlightened, and converted him. The saint only offered himself to do the divine will. Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?11 And behold, Jesus Christ instantly declared him a vessel of election, and apostle of the Gentiles. This man is to Me a vessel of election to carry My name before the Gentiles.12 He who fasts, gives alms, or mortifies himself for God’s sake, gives a part of himself to God; but the man who gives his will to God, gives himself entirely to him. All that God asks of us is, our heart – that is, our will. My son, give Me thy heart.13 In a word, the accomplishment of the divine will must be the object of all our desires, of our devotions, meditations, Communions, etc. The object of all our prayers must be to obtain from God the grace to do his will. And for this purpose we must implore the intercession of our holy advocates, and particularly of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that they may procure for us light and strength to conform ourselves to the will of God in all things, but particularly in embracing what is opposed to self-love. The venerable John Avila used to say: “A single ‘Blessed be God’ in adversity is better than six thousand acts of thanksgiving in prosperity.”
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my God! all my past ruin has arisen from a want of conformity to Thy will. O God of my soul! I detest and curse a thousand times the days and moments in which I have, in order to do my own will, contradicted Thy holy will. I now give my whole will to Thee. Accept it, O my Lord! and bind it so firmly to Thy love, that it may never more be able to rebel against Thee. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! and through the love which I bear Thee, I offer myself entirely to Thee. Dispose of me and of all I possess, as Thou pleasest: I resign myself entirely to Thy holy will. Preserve me from the misfortune of doing anything against Thy holy will, and then treat me as Thou wishest. Eternal Father, hear me for the love of Jesus Christ. My Jesus, hear me through the merits of Thy Passion. Most Holy Mary, assist me; obtain for me the grace to fulfil the divine will, in the accomplishment of which my salvation entirely consists: obtain this grace for me, and I ask nothing more.
In what we should Conform to God’s Will.
It is necessary to conform ourselves to the will of God, not only in crosses and adversity which come directly from God, such as infirmities, desolation of spirit, loss of property or relatives; but also in those which come indirectly from him, – that is, through men, – such as defamation, contempt, injuries, and all other persecutions. And let us remember that when others injure us in our property or honor, God does not will their sin, but he wills our poverty and our humiliation. It is certain that whatsoever happens takes place by the divine will. I am the Lord: I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace and create evil.14 And Ecclesiasticus says: Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God.15 In a word, all things, blessings as well as misfortunes, come from God.
The crosses that happen to us are called evils, because we call them so, and because we make them evils; if we accepted them as we ought, with resignation, from the hands of God, they should prove to us, not evils, but blessings. The jewels which give the greatest splendor to the crown of the saints are the tribulations which they have borne for God, as coming from his hands. What did holy Job say when he was told that the Sabeans had taken away his property? The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.16 He did not say: The Lord gave me these goods, and the Sabeans have taken them away; but the Lord has given them, and the Lord has taken them away. And therefore he blessed the Lord, knowing that all had happened by his will. And as it hath pleased the Lord, so it is done; blessed be the name of the Lord.17 When the holy martyrs Epictetus and Athone were tormented with iron hooks and burning torches, they only said: “Lord, Thy will be done in us.” And their dying words were: “O eternal God, be blessed for giving us the grace to accomplish in ourselves Thy holy will.” Cesarius relates18 that a certain monk wrought many miracles, though his life was not more austere than that of the other monks. Being astonished at his miracles, the abbot asked him one day what devotions he practised. In answer he said that he was more imperfect than his companions, but that he was always careful to conform himself in all things to the divine will. “And,” said the Superior, “did you feel displeasure at the injury which an enemy did to our farm some days ago?” No,” Father, “replied the monk; I, on the contrary, thanked the Lord, because I know that he does and permits all things for our welfare.” From this, the abbot perceived the sanctity of this good religious.
We ought to do the same when any cross or adversity happens to us. Let us accept them all from the divine hands, not only with patience, but also with joy, in imitation of the apostles, who rejoiced when they were maltreated for the sake of Jesus Christ. They went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.19 And what greater happiness than to bear crosses, and to know that, in embracing them, we please God? If we wish to enjoy continual peace, let us endeavor, from this day forward, to embrace the divine will, always saying in all that happens to us: Yea, Father, for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight.20 Lord, this has pleased Thee, let it be done. To this end we ought to direct all our meditations, Communions, visits, and prayers. always imploring the Lord to make us conform to his will. And let us always offer ourselves to him, saying: “Behold me, O my God! do with me what thou pleasest.” St. Teresa offered herself to God at least fifty times in the day, that he might dispose of her as he wished.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my divine King, my beloved Redeemer! come and reign henceforth in my soul with undivided sway. Take my whole will, that it may desire and wish nothing but what Thou wishest. My Jesus, I have hitherto offended Thee so grievously by resisting Thy holy will. This gives me greater pain than if I had suffered every other evil. I repent of it, and am sorry for it with my whole heart. I deserve chastisement; I do not refuse it; I accept it. Preserve me only from the chastisement of being deprived of Thy love, and then do with me whatever Thou pleasest. I love Thee, my dear Redeemer; I love Thee, my God: and, because I love Thee, I wish to do whatever Thou wishest. O will of God! Thou art my love. O blood of my Jesus, Thou art my hope. In Thee I hope to be, from this day forward, always united to the divine will. It shall be my guide, my desire, my love, and my peace. In it I wish always to live and repose. In peace in the self-same I will sleep and I will rest.21 I shall always say, in whatever shall befall me: My God, thus Thou hast willed, thus I will; my God, I wish only what Thou wishest, may Thy will be always accomplished in me. Thy wilt be done. My Jesus, through Thy merits, grant me the grace always to repeat this beautiful dictate of love: Thy will be done! Thy will be done! O Mary, happy thou, who didst always fulfil, in all things, the divine will. Obtain for me the grace that henceforth I, too, may always fulfil it. My queen, through, thy great love for Jesus Christ, obtain for me this grace. Through thy prayers I hope for it.
Happiness Derived from Conformity to God’s Will.
He who is united with the divine will, enjoys, even in this life, a perpetual peace. Whatsoever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad.22 Yes, for a man cannot enjoy greater happiness than that which arises from the accomplishment of all his wishes. He who wills only what God wills, possesses all that he desires; for whatever happens to him, happens by the will of God. If, says Salvian, the soul that is resigned be humbled, it desires humiliations; if it is poor, it delights in poverty; in a word, it wishes whatever happens, and thus leads a happy life.23 Let cold, heat, wind, or rain come, and he that is united with the will of God says: I wish for this cold, this heat, this wind, and this rain, because God wills them. If loss of property, persecution, or sickness befall him, he says: I wish to be miserable, to be persecuted, to be sick, because such is the will of God. He who reposes in the divine will, and is resigned to whatever the Lord does, is like a man who stands above the clouds, and, without injury or perturbation, beholds the tempest raging below. This is the peace which, according to the Apostle, surpasseth all understanding,24 which exceeds all the delights of the world; a perpetual peace, subject to no vicissitudes. A fool is changed like the moon . . . A holy man continueth in wisdom like the sun.25 Fools – that is, sinners – are changed like the Moon, which increases to-day, grows less on to-morrow. To-day they are seen to laugh, and to-morrow to weep; to-day all joy and meekness, to-morrow, all sadness and fury, in a word, they change with prosperity and adversity. But the just man is like the sun, always the same, and uniformly tranquil in whatever happens; for his peace consists in conforming himself to the divine will. And on earth peace to men of good will.26 At the bare mention of the will of God, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel much consolation that she would fall into an ecstasy of love. When the will is united with the will of God, crosses may produce some pain in the inferior part, but in the superior part peace shall always reign. Your joy no man shall take from you.27 But how great the folly of those who oppose the will of God! What God wills will certainly happen; for who resisteth his will?28 They, therefore, must bear the cross, but without fruit and without peace. Who hath resisted him, and hath had peace?29
And what else but our welfare does God will? This is the will of your God, your sanctification.30 He wishes to see us saints, that we may be content in this life, and happy in the next. Let us remember that the crosses which come to us from God work together unto good.31 Even chastisements are inflicted on us in this life, not for ruin, but that we may amend, and gain eternal beatitude. Let us believe that these scourges of the lord . . . have happened for our amendment, and not for our destruction.32 God loves us so ardently, that he not only desires, but is solicitous for, the salvation of each of us. The Lord is careful for me.33 And what will he deny us after having given us his Son? He that spared not even His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also with Him given us all things.34 Let us then always abandon ourselves into the hands of that God who is always solicitous for our welfare as long as we remain in this world. Casting all your care upon Him, for He hath care of you.35 Think of me, said our Lord to St. Catharine of Sienna, and I will always think of you. Let us often say with the spouse of the Canticles: My beloved to me, and I to him.36 My beloved thinks of my welfare, and I will think only of pleasing him, and of uniting myself to his holy will. We ought, says the holy Abbot Nilus, to pray, not that God would do what we wish, but that we may do what he wills.
He who always acts in this manner will lead a happy life, and will die a happy death. He who dies with entire resignation to the divine will, gives to others a moral certainty of his salvation. But he who is not united with the divine will during life, will not be united with it at death, and will not be saved. Let us, then, endeavor to make ourselves familiar with some sayings of the Scripture, by which we shall always keep ourselves united with the will of God. Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?37 Lord, tell me what Thou wishest me to do; I am ready and willing to do it. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.38 Behold! my soul is Thy servant; command, and Thou shalt be obeyed. I am Thine; save me.39 Save me, O Lord! and then do what Thou pleasest with me; save Thine, I am no longer mine. When any serious cross or adversity happens to us, let us say: Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in Thy sight.40 My God, this has pleased Thee; let it be done. Above all, let the third petition of the Lord’s prayer be dear to us: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let us say it often, with fervor, and let us repeat it several times. Happy we, if we live and die saying: Thy will be done! Thy will be done!
Affections and Prayers.
O Jesus, my Redeemer! Thou hast sacrificed Thy life on the cross in order to become the cause of my salvation; have mercy on me, then, and save me; do not permit a soul that Thou hast redeemed by so many pains, and with so much love, to hate Thee for eternity in hell. Thou canst do nothing more to oblige me to love Thee. This Thou gavest me to understand, when, before Thou didst expire on Calvary, Thou didst utter these loving words: It is consummated. But how have I repaid Thy love? For the past, I can truly say that I have done all I could to displease Thee, and to oblige Thee to hate me. I thank Thee for having borne me with so much patience, and for now giving me time to repair my ingratitude, and to love Thee before I die. Yes, I wish to love Thee, and I wish to love Thee ardently, my Saviour, my God, my love, and my all; I wish to do whatever is pleasing to Thee; I give Thee my whole will, my whole liberty, and all that I possess. From this hour I sacrifice my life to Thee, accepting the death which Thou wilt send me, along with all the pains and circumstances that will accompany it. From this moment I unite this sacrifice of mine to the great sacrifice of Thy life, which Thou, my Jesus, didst offer for me on the cross. I wish to die in order to do Thy will. Ah! through the merits of Thy Passion, give me grace to be, during life, resigned to the arrangements of Thy Providence. And when death comes, grant that I may embrace, with an entire conformity, Thy holy will. I wish to die, O my Jesus! in order to please Thee. I wish to die saying: Thy will be done. Mary, my mother, it was thus thou didst die; ah! obtain for me the grace that I too may die in this manner.
Live, Jesus, our love, and Mary, our hope

1“Qui non diligit, manet in morte.” – I John, iii, 14.
2“Charitatern habete, quod est vinculum perfectionis.” – Col. iii. 14.
3“Hostiam et oblationem noluisti; corpus autem aptasti mihi. . . Tunc dixi: Ecce venio, . . . ut faciam, Deus, voluntatem tuam.” – Heb. x. 5.
4“Descendi de cœlo, non ut faciam voluntatem meam, sed voluntatem ejus qui misit me.” – John, vi. 38.
5“Ut cognoscat mundus quia diligo Patrem, et sicut mandatum dedit mihi Pater, sic facio: Surgite, eamus.” – John, xiv. 31.
6“Quicumque enim fecerit voluntatem Patris mei qui in cœlis est, ipse meus frater, et soror. et mater est.” – Matt. xii. 50.
7Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cœlo, et in terra.
8“Inveni David, filium Jesse, virum secundum cor meum. qui faciet omnes voluntates meas.” – Acts, xiii. 22.
9“Paratum cor meum, Deus, paratum cor meum.” – Ps. lvi. 8; cvii. 2.
10“Doce me facere voluntatem tuam” – Ps. cxlii. 10; “Doce me justificationes tuas” – Ps. cxviii. 12, 26, 68, 135, etc.
11“Domine, quid me vis facere?” – Acts, ix. 6.
12“Vas electionis est mihi iste, ut portet nomen meum coram gentibus.” – Acts, ix. 15.
13“Præbe, fili mi, cor tuum mihi.” – Prov. xxiii. 26.
14“Ego Dominus, et non est alter, formans lucem et creans tenebras, faciens pacem et creans malum.” – Isa. xlv. 6.
15“Bona et mala, vita et mors, paupertas et honestas, a Deo sunt.” – Ecclus. xi. 14.
16“Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit.” – Job, i. 21.
17“Sicut Domino placuit, ita factum est; sit nomen Domini benedictum!” – Job, i. 21.
18lib. x., cap. vi.
19“Ibant gaudentes a conspectu concilii, quoniam digni habiti sunt pro nomine Jesu contumeliam pati.” – Acts, v. 41.
20“Ita, Pater! quoniam sic fuit placitum ante te.” – Matt. xi. 26.
21“In pace, in idipsum, dormiam et requiescam.” – Ps. iv. 9.
22“Non contristabit justum, quidquid ei acciderit. – Prov. xii. 21.
23“Humiles sunt, hoc volunt; pauperes sunt, pauperie delectantur; itaque beati dicendi sunt.” – De Gub. D. l. 1, n. 2.
24“Exsuperat omnem sensum.” – Phil. iv. 7.
25“Homo sanctus in sapientia manet sicut sol: nam stultus sicut luna mutatur.” – Ecclus. xxvii. 12.
26“Et in terra pax hominibus.” – Luke, ii. 14.
27“Gaudium vestrum nemo tollet a vobis.” – John, xvi. 22.
28“Voluntati enim ejus quis resistit?” – Rom. ix. 19.
29“Quis restitit ei, et pacem habuit?” – Job, ix. 4.
30“Hæc est enim voluntas Dei, sanctificatio vestra.” – I Thess. iv. 3.
31“Omnia cooperantur in bonum.” – Rom. viii. 28.
32“Ad emendationem, non ad perditionem nostram, evenisse credamus.” – Judith, viii. 27.
33“Dominus sollicitus est mei.” – Ps. xxxix. 18.
34“Qui etiam proprio Filio suo non pepercit, sed pro nobis omnibus tradidit illum, quomodo non etiam cum illo omnia nobis donavit?” – Rom. viii. 32.
35“Omnem sollicitudinem vestram projicientes in eum, quoniam ipsi cura est de vobis.” – I Peter, v. 7.
36“Dilectus meus mihi, et ego illi.” – Cant. ii. 16.
37“Domine, quid me vis facere?” – Acts, ix. 6.
38“Ecce ancilla Domini.” – Luke, i. 38.
39“Tuus sum ego. salvum me fac.” – Ps. cxviii. 94.
40“Ita, Pater, quoniam sic fuit placitum ante te.” – Matt. xi. 26.

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