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"3. The saints in 'heaven love God perfectly. In what, I ask, does the perfection of their love consist? It consists in an entire conformity to the divine will. Hence, Jesus Christ has taught us to pray for grace, 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. (Matt. vi. 10.) Hence, as St. Teresa says, that they who practise prayer, should seek in all things to conform their will to the will of God. In this, she adds, consists the highest perfection. He that practises it in the most perfect manner, shall receive from God the greatest gifts, and shall make the greatest progress in an interior life. The accomplishment of the divine will has been the sole end of the saints, in the practice of all virtues. Blessed Henry Suson used to say, I would rather be the vilest man on earth with the will of God, than be a seraph of my own will.'
“4. A perfect act of conformity is sufficient to make a person a saint. Behold, Jesus Christ appeared to St. Paul while he was persecuting the Church, and converted' him. What did the saint do? He did nothing more than offer to God his will, that he might dispose of it as he pleased. "Lord,' he exclaimed, wliat wilt thou have me do ?' (Acts ixi 6.) And instantly, the Lord declared to Ananias, that Saul was a vessel of election, and apostle of the Gentiles. This man is a vessel of election, to carry my name before the Gentiles." (Acts ix. 15.) He that gives his will to God, gives Him áll be bas. He that mortifies himself by fasts and penitential austerities, or that gives alms to the poor for God's sake, gives to God a part of himself and of his goods, but he that gives his will to God, gives Him all, and can say: Lord, having given you my will, I bave nothing more to give you I have given you all. It is our heart that is, our will--that God asks of us. “My son, give me thy heart.' (Prov. xxi. 26.) Since, then, says the holy Abbot Nilus, our will is so acceptable to God, we ought in our prayers to ask of Him the grace, not that He may do what we will, but that we may do all that He wishes us to do. Every one knows this truth; that our sanctification consists in doing
the will of God, but there is some difficulty in reducing it to practice. 'Let us then, come to the second point, in which I have to say many things of great practical utility.
“Second point.--How, and in what, we ought to practise conformity to the will of God.
“.5 That we may feel a facility of doing, on all occasions, the Divine will, we must, beforehand, offer ourselves continually to embrace in peace .whatever God ordains or wills. Such was the practice of holy David. • My heart," he used to say, is ready;-0 God! my heart is ready.' (Ps.'cvii. 2.) And he continually besought the Lord to teach him to do His divine will: *Teach me to do thy will.? (Ps. cxlii. 10.) He thus deserved to be called a man according to God's own heart. "I have found David, the son of Jesse, à man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills.” (Aets xiii. 22.) And why? Because the holy king was always ready to do whatever God wished him to do.
“6. St. Teresa offered herself to God fifty times in the day, that He might dispose of her as He pleased ; and declared her readiness to embrace either prosperity or adversity. The perfection of our oblation consists in offering ourselves to God without reserve. All are prepared to unite themselves to the divine will in prosperity; but perfection consists in conforming to it, even in adversity. To thank God in things that are agreeable to us, is acceptable to Him; but to accept with cheerfulness what is repugnant to our inclinations, is still more pleasing to Him. Father M. Avila used to say, that a single blessed be God, in adversity, is better than six thousand thanksgivings in prosperity
“We should conform to the divine will, not only in misfortunes which come directly from God-such as sickness, loss of property, privation of friends and relatives,—but also in crosses which come to us from men, but indirectly from God-such as acts of injustice, defamations, calumnies, injuries, and all other sorts of persecutions. But you may ask, does God will that others commit sin, by injuring us in our property or in our reputation ? No; God wills not their sin; but He wishes us to bear with such a loss, aud with such a humiliation; and he wishes us to conform, on all such occasions, to His divine will.
“8. Good things and evil...... are from God'. (Eccl. xi. 14) All blessings -such as riches and honours,-and all misfortunes—such as sickness and persecutions,-come from God. But mark that the Scriptures call them evils only because we, through a want of conformity to the will of God, regard them as evils and misfortunes. But, in reality, if we accepted them from the hands of God with Christian resignation, they should be blessings, and not evils. The jewels which give the greatest splendour to the crown of the saints in heaven, are the tribulations which they bore with patience, as coming from the hands of the Lord. On hearing that the Sabeans had taken away all his oxen and asses, holy Job said: “the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.' (Job i. 21.) He did not say, that the Lord gave, and that the Sabeans had taken away; but, that the Lord gave, and that the Lord had taken away; and therefore he blessed the Lord, believing that all had happened through the divine will. As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done : blessed be the name of the Lord.' (Ibid.) Being tormented with iron hooks and burning torches, the holy martyrs Epictetus and Atone said: Lord, your will be done in us.' And their last words were: ‘Be blessed, 0 eternal God, for having given us the grace to accomplish your will.?
“9. “Whatsoever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad.' (Prov. xii. 21.) A soul that loves God, is not disturbed by any misfortune that may happen to her. Cæsarius relates (lib. 10. c. iv), that a certain monk, who did not perform greater austerities than his companions, wrought many miracles. Being astonished at this, the abbot asked him one day, what were the works of piety which he practised ? He answered, that he was more imperfect than the other monks; but, that his sole concern was, to conform himself
to the divine will. Were you displeased, said the abbot, with the person who injured us so grievously a few days ago ? No, father, replied the monk; I, on the contrary, thanked God for it; because I know that He does or permits all things for our good. From this answer, the abbot perceived the sanctity of the good religious. We should act in a similar manner under all the crosses that come upon us. Let us always say: ‘Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight. (Matt. xi. 26.) Lord, this is pleasing to you ; let it be done.
“10. He that acts in this manner, enjoys that peace which the angels announced at the birth of Jesus Christ, to men of good will,—that is, to those whose wills are united to the will of God. These, as the apostle says, enjoy that peace which exceeds all sensual delights. The peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding.' (Phil. iv. 7.) A great and solid peace, which is not liable to change. A holy man continueth in wisdom, like the sun ; but a fool is changing, like the moon.' (Eccl. xxvii, 12.) Fools,—that is, sinners are changed like the moon, which increases to-day, and grows less 10-morrow; to-day they are seen to laugh through folly, and to-morrow to weep through despair; to-day they are humble and meek, to-morrow proud and furious. In a word, sinners change with prosperity and adversity; but the just are like the sun, always the same, always serene in whatever happens to them. In the inferior part of the soul, they cannot but feel some pain at the misfortunes which befall them: but, as long as their will remains united to the will of God, nothing can deprive them of that spiritual joy which is not subject to the vicissitudes of this life. “ Your joy no man shall take from you.' (John xvi. 22.)
“11. He that reposes in the divine will, is like a man placed above the clouds; he sees the lightning, and hears the claps of thunder, and the raging of the tempest below, but is not injured or disturbed by them. And how can he be ever disturbed, when whatever he desires, always happens ? He that desires only what pleases God, always obtains whatsoever he wishes ; because all that happens to him, happens through the will of God. Salvian says, that Christians who are resigned, if they be in a low condition of life, wish to be in that state; if they be poor, they desire poverty; because they wish whatever God wills, and therefore they are always content. “Humiles sunt, hoc volunt, pauperes sunt, paupertate delectantur ; itaque beati dicendi sunt.' If cold, or heat, or rain, or wind come on, he that is united to the will of God, Says: I wish for this cold, this heat, this rain, and this wind, because God wills them. If loss of property, persecution, sickness, or even death come upon him, he says: I wish for this loss, this persecution, this sickness; I even wish for death, when it comes, because God wills it. And how can a person who seeks to please God, enjoy greater happiness than that which arises from cheerfully embracing the cross which God sends him, and from the conviction that, in embracing it, he pleases God in the highest degree. So great was the joy which St. Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi used to feel at the bare mention of the will of God, that she would fall into an ecstacy.
»" 12. But, how great is the folly of those who resist the divine will, and instead of receiving tribulations with patience, get into a rage, and accuse God of treating them with injustice and cruelty! Perhaps, they expect, that in consequence of their opposition, what God wills shall not bappen? “Who Tesisteth his will ?' (Rom. ix. 19.) Miserable men ! instead of lightening the cross which God sends them, they make it more heavy and painful. Who hath resisted Him, and hath had peaee” (Job. ix. 4.) Let us be resigned to the divine will, and we shall thus render our crosses light, and shall gain great treasures of merit for eternal life. In sending us tribulations, God intends to make us saints. This is the will of God, your sanctification.' (1 Thess. ir. 3.) He sends us crosses, not because he wishes evil to us, but because he desires our welfare, and because he knows that they are conducive to our salvation. All things work together unto good.' (Rom. viii. 28.) Even the chas. tisements which come from the Lord, are not for our destruction, but for our good, and for the correction of our faults. Let us believe that these scourges of the Lord....have bappened for our amendment, and not for our destruction.' (Jud. viii. 27.) God loves us-so tenderly, that he not only desires, but is soslicitous about our welfare. "The Lord,' says David, 'is careful for me.' (Ps. xxxix. 18.)
“ 13. Let us, then, always throw ourselves into the hands of God, who 1 so ardently desires, and so anxiously watches over our eternal salvation.
Casting all your care upon him ; for he hath care of you.': (1 Pet. v. 7.) He who during life, casts himself into the bands of God, shall lead a happy life, and shall die a holy death. He who dies resigned to the divine will, dies a "saint; but they who shall not have been united to the divine will during life, shall not conform to it at death, and shall not be saved. The accomplishment of the divine will should be the sole object of all our thoughts during the remainder of our days. To this end, we should direct all our devotions, our „meditations, communions, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and all our prayers. We should constantly beg of God to teach and help us to do His will. “Teach me to do thy will.” (Ps. cxli. 10.) Let us, at the same time, offer ourselves to - accept without reserve whatever He ordains, saying with the Apostle : 'Lord,
what wilt thou have me to do?' (Acts ix. 6.) Lord, tell me what you wish me to do ; I desire to do your will. And in all things, whether they be pleasing or painful, let us always have in our mouths that petition of the Pater Noster : * Thy will be done.' Let us frequently repeat it in the day, with all the affection of our hearts. Happy we, if we live and die saying: "thy will be done! thy will be done ! »
Father Oswald. A Genuine Catholic Story. London : Dolman, 1842.
Whether genuine or not, or true ly in its leading features, this is a most interesting story. “Father Oswald” is intended as an antidote to the well-known and insidious “ Father Clement," and the antidote is well and skilfully administered, though upon “a mind diseased" it may have little of a sanatory influence. But the grace of God is all-powerful, and we should hope for the best. The following outline will give our readers some idea of the work.
The persons who figure chiefly in the story are Mr. Sefton of Sefton Hall, a strict Protestant, and Emma, his wife, the only daughter of a Catholic gentleman who died when she was a year old. Emma was carefully educated by a Protestant mother, who survived her daughter's marriage but a few months. At the opening of the narrative, Mr. and Mrs. Sefton had been married a few years, and were the happy parents of three little boys and an infant girl. Mr. Sefton was a man of deep feeling and deep prejudice; very affectionate, and very firm; warmly attached to his wife; and towards all but her more inclined to severity than mildness; he was well educated, well read, and made literature his principal pursuit. Mrs. Sefton was an affectionate wife and mother ; good, gentle, and amiable to all around her; but with a great fund of firmness and disinterestedness of character, when called upon to act; possessing a cultivated mind, much inclined to religion, and exercising herself assiduously in charity to the poor and infirm."
Among Mr. Sefton's tenants was one named William Smith, the father of a small family, who was dying of consumption. During the progress of this deceptive disease, he began to feel some inquietude on the subject of religion, and felt deeply the importance of the “ one thing necessary." Whilst in health, he had gone to places of different worship, of which there are so many in England, and of course had heard many
and most contradictory doctrines. Poor Smith tried to find relief in his Bible; but when he met with such texts as these, “ There is one Lord, our faith, one baptism;" “ There shall be one fold and one shepherd; “ Without faith it is impossible to please God,”—his perplexity and anxiety of mind increased. One day, when in great agony, his eye caught the following text in St. James (v. 14, 15): “Is any sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Curch, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord ; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him; and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him.” Protestant as Smith was, he was for