Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure
#1
The Will of God Made and Governs All Things


1. God controls all events, whether good or bad How can God will or allow evil?

Practical examples

2. God does everything with supreme wisdom

Trials and punishments are blessings from God and proof of His mercy

Our trials are never greater than our strength to bear them Treating of the Will of God St. Thomas, following St.
Augustine, teaches that it is the cause of all that exists. 1 The Psalmist tells us that "all that the Lord wills He does in heaven and
on earth, in the seas and in all the deeps." 2 Again in the Book of the Apocalypse it is written: "Worthy art thou, O Lord our God, to
receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things, and because of thy will they existed and were created. " 3
Hence it is the Will of God which from nothingness drew out  the universe with all its grandeur and all that lives in it, the earth
with all that is on it and beneath it, all creatures visible and invisible, living and inanimate, reasonable and without reason, from the
highest to the lowest.

If God then has produced all these things, as St. Paul says, according to the purpose of His will, 4 is it not supremely right and
reasonable as well as absolutely necessary that they should be preserved and governed by Him according to the counsel of His will?
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you? 5  But the works of God
are perfect it is written in the Canticle of Moses. 6 They are so well done that God Himself, whose judgment is  strict and righteous,
found when He had created them that they were good and very good. 7 It is quite obvious that He who hath founded

1 St. Thomas, Sum. p. 1, q. 19, a. 4; St. Augustine, De Gen.
2 Ps. 134:6
3 Apoc. 4:11
4 Eph. 1:5
5 Wis. 11:25
6 Deut. 32:4
7 Gen. 1:31

the earth by wisdom and hath established the heavens by understanding 8 could not show less perfection in governing His
works than in creating them. So, as He is careful to remind us, if his Providence continues to have care of all things, 9 it is in measure and
number and weight, 10 it is with justice and mercy. 11 Neither can any man say to Him, Why dost thou so? 12 For if He assigns to His
creatures the end that He wills, and chooses the means which seem good to Him to lead them to it, the end He assigns them must be good
and wise, nor can He direct them towards their end other than by good and wise means. Therefore do not become foolish 13 the Apostle
tells us, but understand what the will of the Lord is, so that doing it you may receive the promise, 14 that is to say eternal happiness, for it
is written the world with its lust is passing away, but he who does the will of God abides forever. 15 God Controls All Events, Whether Good or Bad
Nothing happens in the universe without God willing and allowing it. This statement must be taken absolutely of everything
with the exception of sin. 'Nothing occurs by chance in the whole course of our lives' is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers and
Doctors of the Church, 'and God intervenes everywhere.'  I am the Lord, He tells us Himself by the mouth of the prophet
Isaias, and there is none else. I form light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things. 16 It is I who
bring both death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them, He said to Moses. 17 'The Lord killeth and maketh alive, it is written in
the Canticle of Anna, the mother of Samuel, He bringeth down to the tomb and He bringeth back again; the Lord maketh poor and maketh

8 Prov. 3:19
9 Wis. 12:13
10 id. 11:20
11 id. 12:15; 16:1
12 Eccles. 8:4
13 Eph. 5:7
14 Heb. 10:36
15 1 John 2:17
16 1s. 45:6-7
17 Deut. 32:39

rich, he humbleth and he exalteth. 18 Shall there be evil (disaster, affliction) in a city which the Lord hath not done? 19 asks the prophet
Amos: Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches are from God Solomon proclaims. 20 And so on in numerous other
passages of Scripture. Perhaps you will say that while this is true of certain necessary effects, like sickness, death, cold and heat, and other
accidents due to natural causes which have no liberty of action, the same cannot be said in the case of things that result from the free
will of man. For if, you will object, someone slanders me, robs me, strikes me, persecutes me, how can I attribute his conduct to the will
of God who far from wishing me to be treated in such a manner,  expressly forbids it? So the blame, you will conclude, can only be laid
on the will of man, on his ignorance or malice. This is the defense behind which we try to shelter from God and excuse our lack of
courage and submission.

It is quite useless for us to try and take advantage of this way of reasoning as an excuse for not surrendering to Providence. God
Himself has refuted it and we must believe on His word that in events of this kind as in all others, nothing occurs except by His order and
permission. 

Let us see what the Scriptures say. He wishes to punish the murder and adultery committed by David and He expresses Himself
as follows by the mouth of the prophet Nathan: Why therefore hast thou despised the word of the Lord, to do evil in my sight? Thou hast
killed Urias the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of
Ammon. Therefore the sword shall never depart from thy house, because thou hast despised me, and host taken the wife of Urias the
Hittite to be thy wife.

Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thy own house, and I will take thy wives before thy eyes and
give them to thy neighbor and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing in the
sight of all all Israel, and in the sight of the sun.

21 18 1 Kings 2:6-7
19 Amos 3:6
20 Ecclus. 11:14
21 2 Kings 12:9-12

Later when the Jews by their iniquities had grievously offended Him and provoked His wrath, He says: The Assyrian is the
rod and the staff of My anger, and My indignation is in his hands. I will send him to the deceitful nation, and I will give him charge
against the people of my wrath, to take away the spoils, and to lay hold on the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
22 Could God more openly declare Himself to be responsible for the evils that Absalom caused his father and the King of Assyria the
Jews? It would be easy to find other instances but these are enough. Let us conclude then with St. Augustine: "All that happens to us in
this world against our will (whether due to men or to other causes)  happens to us only by the will of God, by the disposal of Providence,
by His orders and under His guidance; and if from the frailty of our understanding we cannot grasp the reason for some event, let us
attribute it to divine Providence, show Him respect by accepting it from His hand, believe firmly that He does not send it us without
cause."

Replying to the murmurs and complaints of the Jews who attributed their captivity and sufferings to misfortune and causes
other than the will of God, the prophet Jeremias says to them: Who is he that hath commanded a thing to be done, when the Lord
commandeth it not? Do not both evil and good proceed out of the mouth of the Highest? Why doth a living man murmur, a man
suffering for his sins? Let us search our ways, and seek, and return to  the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to the Lord in the
heavens, saying, We have done wickedly and provoked thee to wrath; therefore thou art inexorable. 23 Are not these words clear enough?
We should take them to heart for our own good.  Let us be careful to attribute everything to the will of God andbelieve that all is guided by
His paternal hand.

22 Is. 10:5-6
23 Lam. 3:37-42


How Can God Will or Allow Evil?

However, you will perhaps now say, there is sinfulness in all these actions. How then can God will them and take part in them if
He is all-holy and can have nothing in common with sin? God indeed is not and cannot be the author of sin. But it must
be remembered that in every sin there are two parts to be distinguished, one natural and the other moral. Thus, in the action of
the man you think you have a grievance against there is, for example, the movement of the arm that strikes you or the tongue
that offends you, and the movement of the will that turns aside from right reason and the law of God. The physical action of the arm or the
tongue, like all natural things, is quite good in itself and there is nothing to prevent its being produced with and by God's
cooperation. What is evil, what God could not cooperate with, is the sinful intention which the will of man contributes to the act.
When a man walks with a crippled leg the movement he makes comes both from the soul and the leg, but the defect which
causes him to walk badly is only in the leg. In the same way all evil  actions must be attributed to God and to man in so far as they are
natural, physical acts, but they can be attributed only to the will of man in so far as they are sinful and blameworthy.

If then someone strikes you or slanders you, as the movement of the arm or tongue is in no way a sin, God can very well be, and
actually is, the author of it; for existence and movement in man not less than in any other creature proceed not from himself but from
God, who acts in him and by him. For in Him says St. Paul, we live and move and have our being. 24 As for the malice of the intention, it
proceeds entirely from man and in it alone is the sinfulness in which God has no share but which He yet permits in order not to interfere
with our freedom of will.

Moreover, when God cooperates with the person who attacks or robs you, He doubtless intends to deprive you of health or goods
because you are making a wrong use of them and they will be harmful to your soul. But He does not intend that the attacker or
robber should take them from you by a sin. That is the part of human malice, not God's design.

24 Acts 17:28

An example may make the matter clearer. A criminal is condemned to death by fair trial. But the executioner happens to be a
personal enemy of his, and instead of carrying out the judge's sentence as a duty, he does so in a spirit of hate and revenge.
Obviously the judge has no share in the executioner's sin. The will and intention of the judge is not that this sin should he committed,
but that justice should take its course and the criminal be punished. In the same way God has no share at all in the wickedness of
the man who strikes or robs you. That is something particular to the man himself. God, as we have said, wishes to make you see your own
faults, to humble you, deprive you of what you possess, in order to free you from vice and lead you to virtue; but this good and merciful
design, which He could carry out in numerous other ways without any sin being involved, has nothing in common with the sin of the
man who acts as His instrument. And in fact it is not this man's evil intention or sin that causes you to suffer, humiliates or impoverishes
you, but the loss of your well being, your good name or your possessions. The sin harms only the person who is guilty of it. This is
the way we ought to separate the good from the evil in events of this kind, and distinguish what God operates through men from what
men add to the act by their own will.


PRACTICAL EXAMPLES

St. Gregory sets the same truth before us in another light. A doctor, he says orders leeches to be applied. While these small
creatures are drawing blood from the patient their only aim is to gorge themselves and suck up as much of it as they can. The doctor's
only intention is to have the impure blood drawn from the patient and to cure him in this manner. There is therefore no relation
between the insatiable greed of the leeches and the intelligent purpose of the doctor in using them. The patient himself does not
protest at their use. He does not regard the leeches as evildoers.

Rather he tries to overcome the repugnance the sight of their ugliness causes and help them in their action, in the knowledge that
the doctor has judged it useful for his health. God makes use of men as the doctor does of leeches. Neither should we then stop to
consider the evilness of those to whom God gives power to act on us or be grieved at their wicked intentions, and we should keep
ourselves from feelings of aversion towards them. Whatever their particular views may be, in regard to us they are only instruments of
well being, guided by the hand of an all-good, all-wise, all-powerful God who will allow them to act on us only in so far as is of use to us.
It is in our interest to welcome instead of trying to repel their assaults, as in very truth they come from God. And it is the same with
all creatures of whatever kind. Not one of them could act upon us unless the power were given it from above.

This truth has always been familiar to the minds of those truly enlightened by God. We have a celebrated example in Job. He
loses his children and his possessions; he falls from the height of fortune to the depths of poverty. And he says The Lord gave and the
Lord hath taken away. As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done. Blessed be the name of the Lord. 25 "Note" observes St. Augustine "Job
does not say 'The Lord gave and the devil hath taken away' but says, wise that he is, 'The Lord gave me my children and my possessions,
and it is He who has taken them away; it has been done as it has pleased the Lord."

The example of Joseph is no less instructive. His brothers had old him into slavery from malice and for a wicked purpose, and
nevertheless the holy patriarch insists on attributing all to God's providence. God sent me, he says, before you into Egypt 26 to save
life. . . . God sent me before you to preserve a remnant for you in the land, and to deliver you in striking way. Not you but God sent me
here, and made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his house, and ruler over the land of Egypt. Let us now listen to Our Savior himself who
came down from heaven to teach us by His word and example. In an excess of zeal Peter tries to turn Him aside from His purpose of submitting to His
passion and prevent the soldiers laying their hands on Him. But Jesus said to him: Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me? 27
In fact He attributed the suffering and ignominy of His passion not to the Jews who accused him, not to Judas who betrayed Him, nor to
Pilate who condemned Him, nor to the soldiers who ill-treated and

25 Job 1:21
26 Gen. 45:5-8
27 John 18:11

crucified Him, nor to the devil who incited them all, though they were the immediate causes of His sufferings, but to God, and to God
not considered as a strict judge but as a loving and beloved Father. Let us never then attribute our losses, our disappointments,
our afflictions, our humiliations to the devil or to men, but to God as their real source. "To act otherwise" says St. Dorothy, "would be to
do the same as a dog who vents his anger on the stone instead of putting the blame on the hand that threw it at him." So let us be
careful not to say 'So-and-so is the cause of my misfortune.' Your misfortunes are the work not of this or that person but of God. And
what should give you reassurance is that God, the sovereign good, is guided in all His actions by His most profound wisdom for holy and
supernatural purposes.

God Does Everything With Supreme Wisdom  All wisdom comes from the Lord God we find in the Book of Ecclesiasticus, and with him
it remains forever, and is before all time . . . and he has poured her forth upon all his works. 28 How manifold are your works, O Lord!
exclaims the Psalmist, In wisdom thou hast wrought them all. 29 It could not be otherwise, for God, being infinite wisdom and acting by
Himself, cannot act except in an infinitely wise manner.

For this reason many of the Doctors of the Church hold that, having regard to the circumstances, His works are so perfect that
they could not be more so, and so good that they could not be better. 'We ought then' says St. Basil, 'to ponder well on this thought, that
we are the work of a good Workman, and that He dispenses and distributes to us all things great and small with the wisest
providence, so that there is nothing had, nothing that could even be conceived better.' The works of the Lord are great the Psalmist again
says, exquisite in all their delights. 30 His wisdom is especially shown  in the right proportion between the means He employs and the end
He has in view. She reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well. 31 She (Wisdom) governs men with admirable order, she
leads them to their happiness mightily but without violence or constraint, with sweetness and not only with sweetness, but still
more with circumspection.

But though you have might at your disposal, says the Sage,you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us. 32
You are endowed with an infinite strength that nothing can resist but with us you do not use the absolute power of your sovereign
authority. You treat us with extreme condescension and adapting yourself to the weakness of nature, design to place each one of us in
the best and most suitable situation for working out our salvation. You dispose of us with great favor as persons who at your living
image and of noble origin and who, because of their condition, are

28 Eccles. 1:1,8
29 Ps. 103:24
30 Ps. 110:2
31 Wis. 8:1
32 Wis. 12:18

not to be ordered in the voice of a master as if they were slaves, but with care and consideration. You treat us with the same
circumspection as one handles a vase of precious crystal or fragile pottery for fear of breaking it. When it is necessary for our good for
you to afflict us or send us some illness or make us suffer some loss or pain, you always do so with a certain respect and a kind of
deference. As a surgeon who has to operate on a person of importance takes extra care to cause him as little suffering as
possible and only what is strictly necessary for his recovery, or as a father unwillingly punishes a son he loves dearly only because he is
obliged to do so for his son's good, so God treats us as noble beings  for whom He has the highest regard, or as beloved children whom he
chastises because he loves them. 33 Trials and Punishments Are Blessings From God Looking, St. Paul tells us, towards the author and finisher of
faith, Jesus (the only begotten and beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased) .... Consider then Him Who endured such opposition
from sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. For you have not yet resisted unto blood (as He did) in the
struggle with sin, and you have forgotten the exhortation that is addressed to you as sons, saying, My son, neglect not the discipline of
the Lord, neither be thou weary when thou art rebuked by Him. For whom the Lord loves He chastises, and He scourges every son whom
He receives. Continue under discipline, for God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not correct? 34
In short, the purpose for which God acts is a high and holy one, His own glory and the good of His creatures. Infinitely good -- Goodness
itself -- He seeks to make them all perfect by drawing them towards Him and making them sharers in His divinity as far as they are
capable. But because of the close ties He has established with us by the union of our nature with His in the person of his Son, we in a still
more special manner are the object of His benevolence and tender care. A glove is not more fitted to a hand or a sword to a scabbard
than what He does and ordains in us and for us is suited to our

33 Apoc. 3:19
34 Heb. 12:2-7

strength and capabilities, so that everything may serve to our advantage and perfection if we but cooperate with the designs of his
providence.  Our Trials Are Never Greater Than Our Strength to Bear Them Do not let ourselves be troubled when we are sometimes
beset by adversity, for we know that it is meant for our spiritual welfare and carefully proportioned to our needs, and that a limit has
been set to it by the wisdom of the same God who has set a bound to  the ocean. Sometimes it might seem as if the sea in its fury would
overflow and flood the land, but it respects the limits of its shore and its waves break upon the yielding sand. There is no tribulation or
temptation whose limits God has not appointed so as to serve not for  our destruction but for our salvation. God is faithful says the Apostle,
and will not permit you to be tempted (or afflicted) beyond your  strength, 35 but it is necessary for you to be so, since through many
tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God 36 in the steps of our Redeemer who said of Himself, Did not the Christ have to suffer all
these things before entering into His glory? 37 If you refused to accept these tribulations you would be acting against your best
interests. You are like a block of marble in the hands of the sculptor. The sculptor must chip, hew and smooth it to make it into a statue
that is a work of art. God wishes to make us the living image of Himself. All we need to think of is to keep still in His hands while He
works on us, and we can rest assured that the chisel will never strike  the slightest blow that is not needed for His purposes and our
sanctification; for, as St. Paul says, the will of God is your sanctification. 38

35 1 Cor. 10:13
36 Acts. 14:21
37 Luke 24:26
38 I Thessalonians 4:3
Reply
#2
The Great Advantages to be Gained From Entire Conformity to the Divine Will


1. Man sanctifies himself by this conformity
2. Conformity to God's will makes us happy in this life as well


Our sanctification is God's aim in all His dealings with us. What would He not do for His own honor and our good if we would
only let Him! The heavens make no resistance to the spirits that guide them and their motion is magnificent, orderly and useful; they
declare aloud the glory of God and preserve order in the universe by their influence and the invariable succession of day and night.
If they resisted this guidance and instead of following the motion set for them they followed a different one, they would soon
fall into the utmost confusion and destroy the world. It is the same when the will of man lets itself be guided by God's will. Then all that
is in this microcosm, this "little world," all the faculties of the soul and members of the body are in the most perfect harmony and
regular motion. But man quickly loses all these advantages and falls into the utmost confusion once he opposes his will to God's and turns
aside from it.

Man Sanctifies Himself by This Conformity In what does the sanctification of man and his perfection consist? "Some" says St. Francis of Sales
"place it in austerity, others in giving to charity, others in frequenting the sacraments, others in prayer. But for my part I know no other
perfection than loving God with all one's heart. Without this love all the virtues are only a heap of stones." The truth of this cannot be doubted.
The Scriptures are full of it. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, thy whole soul and thy whole mind. This is the greatest and
the first commandment Our Lord tells us. 39 And St. Paul: Above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection. 40 In the same
way that virtue is ennobled and perfected by the love of God, "so likewise" says Rodriguez following St. Chrysostom, "the highest, purest and most
excellent part of this love is absolute conformity to the divine will and having in all things no other will but God's." For, as theologians teach with
Pseudo-Dionysius and St. Jerome, "the chief effect of love is to unite the hearts of those who love each other so that they have the same will."
Hence the more we submit to God's designs for us, the more we advance towards perfection. When we resist we go backwards.
"Whoever makes a habit of prayer" says the great St. Teresa of Avila, "should think only of doing everything to conform his will
to God's. Be assured that in this conformity consists the highest perfection we can attain, and those who practice it with the greatest
care will be favored by God's greatest gift and will make the quickest progress in the interior life. Do not imagine there are other secrets.
All our good consists in this." 

It is related of Blessed Stephanie of Soncino, a Dominican nun, that she was one day carried in spirit to Heaven to see the happiness
of the saints. She saw their souls mingling with the choirs of angels according to each one's degree of merit, and noticed among the
Seraphim several persons she had known before their deaths. Having asked why these souls were raised to such a high degree of glory, she
was told it was because of the conformity and perfect union of their will with God's while they lived on earth. Now, if this conformity to
the will of God raises souls to the highest degree of glory in heaven among the Seraphim, it must be concluded that it raises them on
earth to the highest degree of grace and on it is founded the highest perfection man can attain.

Since it is the most perfect act of charity and the most pleasing and acceptable sacrifice that is given to man to offer to God,
there can be no doubt that whoever practices entire submission to His will lays up inestimable treasures at every moment and amasses
more riches in a few days than others are able to acquire in many years and with great labor. To remain indifferent to good fortune or

39 Matt. 22~37-38
40 Col. 314

to adversity by accepting it all from the hand of God without questioning, not to ask for things to be done as we would like them
but as God wishes, to make the intention of all our prayers that God's will should be perfectly accomplished in ourselves and in all
creatures is to find the secret of happiness and content. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him says the Psalmist, He hears their cry
and saves them. The Lord keeps all who love him. 41 And again: We know that for those who love God all things work together unto
good. 42


Conformity to God's Will Makes Us Happy in This Life as Well

The conforming of our will to God's is not limited to the attainment of our eternal salvation. It also has the effect of making
us happy on this earth. It will give us the most perfect peace it is possible to experience in life and is the means of making this world a
foretaste of heaven.

O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! God said to Israel, Thy peace had been as a river. 43 Eliphaz, one of Job's three
friends, likewise says to him: Come to terms with him to be at peace... for then you shall delight in the Almighty and you shall lift
up your face towards God. 44 It is this that the angels sang at the birth of our Savior: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to
men of good will. 45 Who are these men of good will but those whose wills are in harmony with the supremely good will of God? A will that
is otherwise disposed must necessarily be a bad will, incapable of obtaining the peace promised to men of good will.

In order for us to enjoy peace and calm we need to have nothing opposing our will and everything done in the way we want
it. But who can expect to have such happiness except the man whose will is entirely conformed to the will of God?

41 Ps. 144:19-20
42 Rom. 8:28
43 Is. 48:18
44 Job 22:21-26
45 Luke 2:14

Remember the former age for I am God and there is no God  besides.... Who show from the beginning the things that shall be at
last, and from ancient times the things that as yet are not done, saying: My counsel shall stand, and all My will shall be done. 46 Every
will that tries to oppose the will of God is bound to be overcome and broken, and instead of peace and happiness its effort can only end in
humiliation and bitterness. God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has withstood him and remained unscathed? 47 He,
and he alone, whose will is perfectly united to God's possesses the peace of God which surpasses all understanding. 48 He alone can say
with God Himself all my will shall be done, because wishing all that God wishes and only what God wishes, his wishes are always fulfilled
and nothing can happen that he does not wish. 

No harm befalls the just, 49 or disturbs the serenity of his mind, for if he has exactly what he wishes, he cannot be unhappy in
spite of himself. It is obvious that unhappiness comes not from what others feel but from what we feel ourselves. Whatever our situation
is, we must be happy if we are just as we wish to be. Certainly we will still feel pain and sorrow, but they affect us only in the lower part of
our being without being able to influence the mind. Obedient and resigned to the will of His Father, our Savior did not cease to be filled
with the utmost joy and happiness in the midst of the most grievous sufferings it is possible to imagine.

It cannot be denied however that human nature finds the idea of suffering, humiliation, even poverty, almost incompatible with the
idea of happiness, so that it is really a miracle of grace when we can be happy in such circumstances.

But this miracle always mercifully accompanies the sacrifices of one who seeks to do the will of God in all things, for it is to God's
honor and glory that those who give themselves generously to His service should be content with their lot.

It may perhaps be asked how it is possible to reconcile this deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 50 If in this

46 Is. 46:9-10
47 Job 9:4
48 Phil. 4:7
49 Prov. 12:21
50 Luke 9:23

place our divine Master requires His disciples to deny themselves and carry His cross after Him, elsewhere He promises solemnly to
give them not only life everlasting but a hundredfold all things they deny themselves to please Him in this life. 51 He further promises to
ease the burden of His cross so as to lighten it; for He not only says that His yoke is sweet but adds that His burden is light. 52 If then we
do not experience the sweetness of Christ's yoke nor the lightness of the burden of the cross, it must be because we have not yet made the
denial of our will and completely given up our human outlook so as to consider things in the light of faith.

This divine light would enable us to give thanks to God in all things 53 as we are taught by St. Paul He requires of us. It would be for
us the beginning of that great joy that the Apostle urges us to have always. 54

51 Matt. 19:29
52 id. 11:30
53 1 Thes. 5:18
54 id. 5:16
Reply
#3
The Practice of Conformity to the Will of God

In the natural incidents in our daily lives
In public calamities
In the cares and difficulties of family life
In reverses of fortune
In poverty and its hardships
In adversity and disgrace
In defects of nature
In sickness and infirmity
In death and the manner of it
In the loss of spiritual consolation
In the consequences of our sins
In interior trials
In spiritual favors
Summary and conclusion


To the question, "In what things should we practice conformity to the will of God?" there can be only one answer: "In
everything."

The first thing that God asks of us is that we should faithfully keep His commandments and those of the Church, humbly obey
those who have authority over us, and carefully fulfill the duties of our state.

Thereafter we should desire what God does and accept with filial submission all that is decided by His Providence. Let us now see
some of the circumstances which may arise.


In the Natural Incidents of Our Daily Lives

In a spirit of conformity to His holy will we should accustom ourselves for the love of God to putting up with all the little daily
vexations, such as a word said that wounds our self-esteem, a fly that annoys us, the barking of a dog, knocking into something as we walk
along, a small accidental hurt, a light suddenly going out, a rent in our clothes, a pen that won't write, and so on. In one way it is even
more important to practice conformity to God's will in these small things than in larger ones, both because they are more frequent and
because the habit of supporting them in a Christian spirit prepares us in advance and in a natural manner to show resignation when we
have to face serious difficulties.

We should wish with the divine will for heat and cold, storm and calm, and all the vagaries and in clemencies of the elements. We
should in short accept whatever kind of weather God sends us, instead of supporting it with impatience or anger as we usually do
when it is contrary to what we desire. We should avoid saying, for instance, "What awful heat!" "What terrible cold!" "What shocking
weather!" "Just my bad luck!" and other expressions of the same kind which only serve to show our lack of faith and of submission to God's
will.

Not only should we wish the weather to be as it is because God has made it so but, whatever inconvenience it may cause us, we
should repeat with the three youths in the fiery furnace: Cold, heat, snow and ice, lightnings and clouds, winds and tempests, bless the
Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.

The elements themselves are blessing and glorifying God by doing His holy will, and we also should bless and glorify Him in the
same way. Besides, even if the weather is inconvenient for us, it may be convenient for someone else. If it prevents us from doing what we
want to do, it may be helping another. And even if it were not so, it should be enough for us that it is giving glory to God and that it is
God who wishes it to be as it is.

St. Francis Borgia, the third General of the Society of Jesus, provides us a good example in this matter. He was once traveling to a
house of the Society when it was snowing hard and bitterly cold, and his arrival was delayed until a late hour of the night when everybody
was in bed and asleep. He had to wait some time before his knocking aroused someone to let him in, and then to the apologies for keeping
him waiting so long in such foul weather he answered cheerfully that  it was a great consolation to him to think that it was God who had
dropped so much snow on him.

This practice of conformity to His will is so pleasing to God  that it often has a visible influence on the material things of life.
There is a story in the Lives of the Desert Fathers of a laborer whose  fields always gave better crops than those of his neighbors. When
asked the reason he replied that he always had whatever kind of  season or weather he chose. "I never wish for any other kind of
weather but what God wishes" he explained, "and as I wish for  everything that pleases God, He too gives me the sort of crop that
pleases me."

55 Dan. 3:67 et seq.


In Public Calamities

We ought to conform to God's will in all public calamities such as war, famine and pestilence, and reverence and adore His
judgments with deep humility in the firm belief that, however severe they may seem, the God of infinite goodness would not send such
disasters unless some great good were to result from them. Consider how many souls may be saved through tribulation
which would otherwise be lost, how many persons through affliction are converted to God and die with sincere repentance for their sins.
What may appear a scourge and punishment is often a sign of great grace and mercy.

As far as we are personally concerned, let us meditate well on this truth of our faith that the very hairs of our head are numbered,
56 and not one of them will fall except by the will of God. In other words we cannot suffer the least harm unless He wills and orders it.
Relying on this truth we can easily understand that we have nothing more or less to fear in times of public calamity than at any other
time. God can just as easily protect us in the midst of general ruin and despair as He can deliver us from evil while all around is peace
and content. The only thing we need to be concerned about is to gain His favor, and this is the inevitable effect of conforming our will to
His. Let us therefore hasten to accept from His hand all that He sends us, and as a result of our trustful surrender He will either cause us to
gain the greatest advantages from our misfortunes or else spare us them altogether.

56 Matt. 10:30


In the Cares and Difficulties of Family Life

If you are the father or mother of a family, you ought to conform your will to God's with regard to the number or sex of the
children He pleases to give you. When men were animated by the spirit of faith they regarded a large family as a gift of God
and a blessing from heaven, and considered God more than themselves as the father of their children.

But now that faith has weakened and people live isolated from God, or if they think of Him at all it is mostly to fear Him and hardly ever
to have trust in His providence, they are reduced to bearing the burden of their families alone. And as a man's resources, however
ample and assured they may seem, are always limited and uncertain, even those who are most favored by fortune view with dismay an
increase in their family. They regard it as a kind of disaster which fills them with apprehension, an endless source of worry to poison
their existence. How different it would be if we realized God's paternal treatment of those who submit to Him with filial trust! If
we did so we should realize also what St. Paul meant when he said that God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that always
having ample means, you may abound in every good work. 57

To obtain the help of Providence it should be your aim to cooperate, as it were, with the Fatherhood of God and bring up your
children as He would wish them brought up, especially by showing them good example. Have the courage to lay aside all other ambition
and let this be the only object of your care and desire. Then, whatever the number of your children, you can rest assured that
their heavenly Father will provide for them. He will watch over them and dispose all things for their happiness and welfare, and the more
unreservedly you entrust their future to His hands, the greater will be His loving care for them.

57 2 Cor. 9:8

Avoid worrying, then, about anything else for your children except whatever may contribute to bringing them up virtuously. For
the rest... having entrusted them to God try to see what His will for them is, to help them along the path in life He has chosen for them.
Never be afraid of relying too much on Him, but rather seek always to increase your trust more and more, for this is the most pleasing
homage you can pay Him and it will be the measure of the graces you will receive. Little or much will be given you according as you have
expected little or much.

In Reverses of Fortune

We should accept with the same conformity to the will of God the loss of employment or money and all other set-backs in our
temporal affairs, repeating with faith the words of Job: The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; as it has pleased the Lord, so is it
done. Blessed be the name of the Lord! What does it matter why those who are the instruments of your reverse of fortune have acted
as they have done? The revolt of Absalom and the curses of Semei were directed against David for a political purpose but this did not
prevent him from attributing them, rightly, to the will of God. The misfortunes of Job were brought about by the devil because he was a
just and God-fearing man. In the times of persecution Christians were deprived of rank and position, despoiled of their possessions,
torn from their families, thrown into prison and sent to execution all for their religious convictions and faith in Christ. Far from
complaining, they went their way, like the apostles, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of
Jesus. 58 Whatever the excuse for the persecution you may be made to suffer, and especially if it is because of your religion, accept it all
without hesitation as coming from the understanding and paternal hand of your Father who is in heaven.

It is the same with regard to money matters. You may find yourself obliged to make a payment you consider unjust -- something
you have already paid but cannot prove, the forfeit of a security you have given for someone, or taxes you consider excessive, or anything
of this nature. If the payment can be, and is, lawfully required of you, then it is the will of God you should pay it. It is He who is asking you
for the money and it is to Him you are really giving it when you bow to the necessity in a spirit of submission to His will. Those who act in
this way can be assured of His manifold graces. Let us take the case of two persons. One, out of a spirit of conformity perhaps excessive,
perhaps quite unfair, but which his creditor has the power to demand. The other, of his own free choice, gives an equal sum to
charity. It is well known what great advantages, even in this life, are to be gained from giving to charity, but the person who makes a
sacrifice of his money not of his own accord or to some one he chooses to give it, but out of a spirit of conformity to God's will, is
performing an even more profitable act. By the very fact that it is against his will, the act is purer and more agreeable in the sight of
God, and if it can be said that from the experiences of all ages charity brings down upon man the abundant blessing of God, it can also be
said without exaggeration that such an act as has been described brings down still more abundant blessings.

58 2 Cor. 9:8

In Poverty and Hardships

We ought to conform to God's will in poverty and all the inconveniences poverty brings in its train. It is not too hard to do so
if we fully realize that God watches over us as a father over his children and puts us in that condition because it is of most value to
us. Poverty then takes on a different aspect in our eyes, for by looking on the privations it imposes as salutary remedies we even
cease to think of ourselves as poor.

If a rich man has a son in bad health and prescribes a strict diet for him, does the son think he has to eat small amounts of plain
or tasteless food because his father cannot afford better? Does he begin to worry about how he will exist in the future? Will other
people think that because of his diet he has become poor? Everybody knows how well off his father is and that he shares
in his father's wealth and he will again have what is now forbidden him as soon as his health is restored. 

Are we not the children of the God of riches, the co-heirs of Christ? Being so, is there anything we can lack? Let it be said boldly:
whoever responds to His divine adoption with the feelings of love and trust that the position of being children of God demands has a
right, here and now, to all that God Himself possesses. Everything then is ours. But it is not expedient we should enjoy everything. It is
often necessary we should be deprived of many things. Let us be careful not to conclude from the privations imposed on us only as
remedies that we may ever be in want of anything that is to our advantage. Let us firmly believe that if anything is necessary or really
useful for us, our all-powerful Father will give it to us without fail. To those gathered round to hear Him our Savior said: If you evil as you
are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more  will your heavenly Father...? 59

This is an unquestionable truth of our holy faith, and any doubt about it, through lack of confidence on our part, can only be
blameworthy and an insult to Christ who again and again made the most definite promises about the matter. Do not be anxious for your
life, what you shall eat He tells us, nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or
gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more value than they?... And as for clothing, why are you
anxious? Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was
arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field,  which flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how
much more you, O you of little faith! Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink? or 'What are we
to put on?', for after all these things the Gentiles seek; but your Father knows that you need all these things. 60 He has given His word
and there is only one condition attached -- that we seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, that we make this search the one
great aim of our lives by bringing everything else into relation with it to make it successful and fulfill our every duty with this end in view.
In return for this He will unburden us of all anxiety, He will take upon Himself all our needs and the needs of those who belong to us
or for whom we have to provide, and His care will be all the greater in proportion to the degree of confidence and surrender to His will
we strive to attain.

59 Luke 11:13
60 Matt 6:25-32; Luke 12:22-30

Do we then for love of Him give up the desire to possess the perishable goods of this world? By virtue of another of Christ's
promises these goods a hundredfold, as well as eternal life, are assured us in this life, and as a result we shall be rich while we are
judged to be poor. Freed from the thirst for wealth, from the possession of it and the burden that accompanies it, we shall enjoy a
peace and contentment unknown to those who, appearing to possess riches, are in reality possessed by them and cannot escape the cares
they bring with them. In this way we shall experience the truth of St. Paul's words that godliness has the promise of the present life as well
as of that which is to come. 61

61 1 Tim. 4:8
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In Adversity and Disgrace





We ought to conform to the will of God in adversity as well as in prosperity, in humiliation as well as in honor, in disgrace as well as
in respect. We should willingly accept all things as being the ordering of Providence, so as to give God by our submission the honor due to Him, and at the same time attain without fail our greatest good. When David left Jerusalem to escape the attack of his son

Absalom, the Ark of the Covenant was carried after him by the order of Sadoc the High Priest so that it might serve as a safeguard for the king in his imminent danger and be a pledge of his safe return. But David told Sadoc to take the ark back, because God would see to his

return if He so wished, and then he added: But if the Lord shall say to me: 'Thou pleasest me not' -- I have withdrawn my favor from you, I will not have you reign longer over my people, I will take away your power and give it to your enemy -- I am ready. Let him do that which is good before Him.' 62

We should say the same in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, and above all take care not to refuse on the specious
pretext that we are not capable of such heroic resignation. God Himself will accomplish it in us provided we do not oppose resistance
to His grace.

This is the point of the story that Cassian tells us about the old man who was attacked by a mob of pagans in Alexandria. He
remained calm and unruffled in spite of insults and blows. Someone asked him mockingly what miracles Christ had worked. "He has just
worked one" the old man replied, "for in spite of all you have done tome, I haven't been angry with you or the least bit upset."


In Defects of Nature

Our conformity to the will of God should extend to our natural defects, mental ones included. We should not, for example,
complain or feel grieved at not being so clever or so witty or not having such a good memory as other people. Why should we
complain of the little that has fallen to our lot when we have deserved nothing of what God has given us? Is not all a free gift of His
generosity for which we are greatly indebted to Him? What services has He received from us that He should have made us a human being
rather than some lower animal? Have we done anything to oblige Him to give us existence itself?

But it is not enough just not to complain. We ought to be content with what we have been given and desire nothing more.
What we have is sufficient because God has judged it so. Just as a workman uses the shape and size of tool best suited to the job in
hand, so God gives us those qualities which are in accordance with the designs He has for us. The important thing is to use well what He
has given us. It may be added that it is very fortunate for some people to have only mediocre qualities or limited talents. The
measure of them that God has given will save them, while they might be ruined if they had more. Superiority of talent very often only
serves to engender pride and vanity and so become a means of perdition.


Sickness And Infirmity

We ought to conform to the will of God in sickness and infirmity and wish for what He sends us, both at the time it comes
and for the time it lasts and with all the circumstances attending it, without wishing for one of them to be changed; and at the same time do all that is reasonable in our power to get well again, because God wishes it so. "For my part" says St. Alphonsus, "I call illness the touchstone of the spirit, for it is then that the true virtue of a man is discovered." If we feel ourselves becoming impatient or rebellious we should endeavor to repress such feelings and be deeply ashamed of any attempt at opposition to the just decrees of an all-wise God.

St. Bonaventure relates that St. Francis of Assisi was afflicted by an illness which caused him great pain. One of his followers said
to him, "Ask Our Lord to treat you a little more gently, for it seems to me He lays His hand too heavily upon you." Hearing this the saint gave a cry and addressed the man in these words: "If I did not think that what you have just said comes from the simplicity of your heart without any evil intention I would have no more to do with you, because you have been so rash as to find fault with what God does to me." Then, though he was very weak from the length and violence of his illness, he threw himself down from the rough bed he was lying
on, at the risk of breaking his bones, and kissing the floor of his cell said "I thank you, O Lord, for all the sufferings you send me. I beg you to send me a hundred times more if you think it right. I shall rejoice if it pleases you to afflict me without sparing me in any way, for the accomplishment of your holy will is my greatest consolation."

And in fact if, as St. Ephraim observes, a mule-driver knows how much his mule can carry and does not try to kill it by
overloading it, and if the potter knows how long the clay should bake to be suitable for use and does not leave it longer in the kiln than is necessary, then it would show very little appreciation of God to venture to think that He who is wisdom itself and loves us with an infinite love would load our backs with too heavy a burden or leave us longer than is necessary in the fire of tribulation. We can be quite sure that the fire will not last longer or be hotter than is necessary to bake our clay to the right point.


62 2 Kings 15:26
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