« AnteriorContinuar »
since we cast ourselves with perfect trust into the bosom of the Divine goodness. In practising this virtue we exercise the virtues of patience, humility, and penance, by submitting to the chastisements of Divine justice. Finally, it is the safest of all devotions; since it is not (like the others) subject to the illusions and frauds of the devil. What further proof is needed to convince us of the excellence of this most sublime virtue?
II. Consider its equity. Reason itself tells us that it is but just that right should govern wrong, and that that which is in itself immutable, and incapable of contracting any blemish, should correct that which is liable to change and defects. Now the Divine will is always essentially right, immutable, and holy; whereas yours is distorted, inconstant, and prone to evil: God's will is infinite, wise, and just; yours is blindness and injustice itself. In a word, the former is the rule of our conduct, and the infallible standard of rectitude; the latter is but error and sin. "Therefore, it is just," concludes St . Augustine," that your will should be corrected according to the standard of the will of God, and not that the Divine will should be lowered to the level of yours, for your will is depraved; the will of God it the rule of your conduct; let the rule then be upheld, and let whatever is wrong be corrected and brought into conformity with it" (a).
2. The will of God is a sovereign will, for "all things are put under him " (b). It is just, therefore, that every human will should be subject to the will of God. For as it is necessary that all created
(a) S. Augustine on Psalm xxxi. (6) 1 Cor. xv. 27.
beings should be subject to the Creator, because He is the first and supreme being; so also, because of its sovereignty, every created will ought to conform itself to the will of God. Therefore, to follow the dictates of our own will rather than the will of God, is manifest rebellion.
3. The will of God is as holy and just as His Divine intellect is truthful and wise; if, therefore, we are bound to put blind faith in His words when TLeproclaims heavenly truths, why should we not tender the most prompt obedience when His holiness orders or wishes anything? Is it not the bounden duty of a son, a disciple, a slave, or a vassal, to submit promptly to the will of his father, his master, his lord, or his king? If then, the first-mentioned titles belong to God, and the last-mentioned to us, is it not most just that the human will should be subject to the will of God? See therefore the equity of this heavenly virtue!
III. Consider the utility of this virtue; for even in this life it confers upon us two great advantages, namely, perfect sanctity and the most complete happiness. As regards the first, it is certain that our sanctification consists in the perfect fulfilment of the Divine will, in such manner that our holiness will be in proportion to our conformity with the will of God . Three arguments prove this. (1.) He is most holy who approaches nearest to the standard of holiness: now this standard is no other than the Divine will: therefore the more we conform ourselves to it, the more holy shall we be. (2.) The more we resemble Jesus Christ, who was the model of the most sublime sanctity, the greater shall be our holiness: now, all the sanctity of Jesus Christ consisted in the perfect conformity of His human will with the will of His Eternal Father. Therefore it follows that we shall resemble Him the more closely, in proportion as we conform our will to the will of God. (3.) Finally, our perfection consists in charity; for "love is the fulfilling of the law" (a). But charity is nothing else than the fulfilment of the Divine will; "He that hath my commandments and lceepeth them; he it is that loveth me" (b). Therefore our sanctification also consists in the execution of the Divine will; and the more perfectly we execute it, the greater will our sanctity be, which is the first advantage derived by us from the practice of this virtue.
The second advantage is, a perfect state of happiness, which those who cultivate this sublime virtue enjoy even in this life. For (1.) in order to be happy in this life, it is necessary that we should be exempt from every kind of evil. Now he who conforms his own will to the will of God, cannot be subject to any evils, either moral, by which we mean sins, or natural, that is, temporal calamities. For sin is merely the rebellion of our will against the will of God; therefore, he whose will is ever one with that of God, can never sin. Then, as regards all other kinds of evil, they are evils only in so far as they are opposed to our will; the moment we wish anything, it immediately ceases to wear the aspect of evil in respect of us, as S. Jerome says: "Have you suffered any misfortune? If you only wish it, if ceases to be such; return thanks to God, and the evil is changed into good." Wherefore, if we too shall
(a) Romans xiii. 10. (6) John xiv. 21.
wish whatever is pleasing to God, we shall be certainly exempt from every evil; for as no misfortune in the world happens without the will of God, it cannot possibly happen in opposition to our will which is intimately united with that of God, and desires nothing but what is pleasing to Him. "It is the will of God." Behold in these few words the medicine that can cure every evil; nay, turn evil into good.
2. The full dominion and absolute control of reason over our appetites, is the greatest happiness which we can enjoy upon earth . Now, whosoever acts in conformity with the Divine will, is in all things master of his affections. He has no temptations to ambition, because since he is influenced solely by the will of God, he is perfectly indifferent to honours or a lowly station; he is not envious of the dignities conferred on his neighbour; the humiliations which may fall to his own lot do not cause him the slightest trouble. Since he is indifferent to everything, he cares not whether he be rich or poor; he neither loves nor hates anything except what his God loves or hates. He does nothing except what God wishes, and in the manner that God wishes; that is, with as much perfection as possible, and with the sole motive of executing the Divine will. This it is which truly constitutes perfect happiness upon earth; and, together with perfect sanctity, it comes to us from the practice of that noble virtue—conformity to the will of God.
Examen. On Interior Recollection and Prayer. Three things are particularly to be borne in mind concerning spiritual love, which will form the subject of our consideration in the following meditation. (1.) That true love is shown not so much by words as in deeds. "The proof of love," says St. Gregory, "is in the works," and we give this proof by ascending to the third degree of humility. (2.) That perfect love consists in a mutual interchange of goods. This we have already done, by conforming our will to the will of God, and thus consecrating to him the most precious thing we possess, nay, ourselves without reserve. (3.) That real, substantial love includes within it the desire to have the beloved object always present, to converse with it, and to be united to it; and this we shall obtain by means of interior recollection and by prayer. Let us, then, here examine briefly how we stand in respect of these two virtues.
I. Recollection of spirit is a habitual exercise of the intellect and the will, by which man believes that God is always present and loves him. There are two special helps to attain this. The first is the observance of silence by retirement in one's own room. You should not leave your apartment except when required to do so by necessity, charity, or obedience. Do you act thus 1 Or do you, on the contrary, go rambling through all the corridors of the house, and all the streets of the city? God is rarely present with persons whose hearts are thus dissipated.
With regard to our conversation, three things must be attended to; the time, the matter, and the manner; that is, to speak when we ought, what we ought, and as we ought. Wherefore, examine yourself to discover whether you are silent during the hours of silence? Whether in your conversation