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punishment, God may permit that you be more fiercely tried by temptation, and even fall perhaps into mortal sin, in that place which you covet so much, while if you had been elsewhere he would not have permitted you to fall 1 Do you not fear that in that office which so entices you, God may withhold from you those graces which are specially required to fill it properly? How can you presume to live in that place and in that office in which Divine Providence has not placed you 1 You are as a bone out of its socket, and your life will be always one of pain. Tell me, pray, what contentment will you derive from having always secured the object of your desires; from having always acted as your own inclinations prompted? Unhappy man ! what will this avail you? What reward can you afterwards lay claim to, since you have executed not God's will but your own? Ah ! be afraid,—because maledictus homo qui ponit carnem brachium suum.
Wherefore, let us renew with a prompt and generous heart that fundamental resolution already so many times repeated to-day, of serving God henceforward in that state of life (or in the state already chosen), in that degree of perfection, in that office, in that place, in that condition of health, in which He shall make known to us that He wishes us to serve Him; being firmly fixed in our determination to avoid or to embrace, to suffer or to perform, whatever we may discover in the course of these Exercises to be in conformity with the will of our Creator.
III. That this resolution may become still stronger, persuade yourself that it is of Faith that whatever happens in this world is not the result of mere chance, but happens by the disposition of God, who loves us infinitely, and whose divine wisdom " ordereth all things sweetly" (a). Attend to those words, "all (kings sweetly". Wherefore, that place and that office which God has appointed for you by means of your superiors, and this sickness and this trouble with which you may be afflicted, come to you from His paternal hand. In fact it is God—God alone— who wishes that you should be in that place, that you should fill that office, that that sickness should afflict you, that that trouble should come upon you, and that you should make every effort to attain that particular degree of perfection. And yet, you maintain all the while that these things do not come to you from God, but from jealous rivals, from disagreeable superiors, from your enemies, from the revengeful feelings and the hatred of others. We will for a moment ignore the fact that, in your blind judgments, you are perhaps deceiving yourself—nay, that you mostly do deceive yourself. But let us grant, for the sake of argument, that your trials do really come from those sources which you mention. What, then? I willingly allow that your enemies are guilty of grievous sin, and will, in consequence of it, be punished by God. But I affirm and maintain at the same time, that though God does not will sin, He wills its effect. Therefore that place, that office, and those trials which originate in the evil deeds of others, are still the object of the Divine will. Thus, although God detested the sale of Joseph by his brethren, He approved, nevertheless, of his sojourn and employment in Egypt; so that Joseph himself said to his brothers " God sent me before you into
Egypt" (a). Remark : he does not say " the jealousy of my brothers," but "God". The devil overwhelmed Job with every description of calamity, and Job exclaims, "the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away" (6). Observe, "the Lord," not the devil. Finally, although God execrated the rage of the Jews, He decreed, nevertheless, the death of His Son; and Jesus Himself said to Peter, " The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it 1" (c) He does not say "that chalice which the Jews have given me," but "which my Father hath given me".
Wherefore, although God condemns the hatred manifested towards you by your companions, the imprudence of your superiors, the envy of your rivals, He wills at the same time that disgrace and those trials which come upon you through these means. Let the world say what it will, let self-love grumble, but, nevertheless, that you should be in that particular place, that you should fill that office, that you should be afflicted with that illness, is the will of God.
2. And all this is intended (0 holy angels! adore God's infinite goodness) for your greater advantage, so much so, that if you were enabled to penetrate the secrets of Providence, you would yourself choose these means and no other, and for this reason: God's infinitely perfect mind knows what suits you best, since "there is nothing hid from his eyes" (d). Moreover, He is able to give you what suits you best; because "with God all things are possible".
(a) Gen. xlv. 5. (6) Job i. 21.
(c) John xviii. 11. (d) Eccles. xxxix. 24.
Therefore, He will give you that which is most suitable to your condition, for He loves you "as the apple of his eye " (a), "as the nurse her little infant" (b). Hence, whatsoever befalls you happens for your greater good. So it is; for the Lord has ordered all things " in measure, and number and weight" (c), and not only this, but " with great favour He disposes of us" (d), " turning evil into good" (e), "making also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it" (/). Entrust yourself, then, in the spirit of indifference towards every earthly thing, to the loving bosom of Divine Providence. Repose in that bosom, and say with S. Ignatius, "Domine, fac mecum sicut seis, et tab ; nam scio quod amator sis."
"All mine is Thine,—say but the word;
On the Impediments to Indifference.
Since (as I have said before), S. Ignatius desires that the entire of this day should be occupied in meditating on " the Foundation," and on indifference, which is its natural consequence, I have judged it expedient, in accordance with his advice, to examine particularly the chief obstacles to this heavenly spirit
(a) Deut. xxxii. 10. (6) Numbers xi. 1.
(c) Wisdom xi, 21. (d) Wisdom xii. 18.
(e) Gen. 1. 20. (/) 1 Cor. x. 13.
of indifference, so that by removing them we may the more easily acquire this fundamental virtue. Therefore examine yourself diligently to-day on the following points, either during the last quarter of an hour allotted to the consideration, or to the spiritual lecture.
1. What created thing affords you the greatest pleasure? What disorderly affection enslaves you most? What difficulty most inspires you with fear? What is the chief obstacle which hinders you from entering on the path of a more perfect life, and serving God, in the state to which He calls you, after the manner which He requires; or from ascending, in the state which you may have already chosen, to that degree of perfection which it is His wish that you should make every effort to attain?
2. What is it that most powerfully withdraws you from that golden indifference so much inculcated by S. Ignatius 1 Is it the concupiscence of the flesh, or the concupiscence of the eyes, or the pride of life i That is to say, a thirst for honours, a desire of ease and pleasures, or a craving for riches? Or is it an over-due aversion to labours, to sufferings, to slights 1 Have you conceived a proper appreciation of the necessity and excellence of this holy indifference? Have you at least earnestly desired to acquire it?
3. Are you prompted to desire or to shun any particular place or office, either by your natural pride, or by sensuality, or by a love of superfluities 1 Does your anxiety for the recovery or preservation of your health, or a dread of impairing it, induce you to choose and seek for, or to fly from that place or that office 1 Does the fear of shortening your life induce you to abandon this or that labour undertaken for