Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure
In Death And the Manner Of It

We ought to carry our conformity to God's will to the point of accepting our death. That we shall die is a decree against which there
is no appeal. We shall die on the day and at the hour and in the manner that God decides, and it is this particular death we should
accept, because it is the one most becoming His glory. One day when  St. Gertrude was climbing a hill she slipped and fell down to the
bottom. She was unhurt and began to climb up again saying: "What great happiness it would have been for me, O Lord, if this fall had
been the means of bringing me sooner to thee!" Her companions asked her if she was not afraid of dying without receiving the last
sacraments. "I would certainly wish with all my heart to receive  them in my last moments," she answered, "but I much prefer the will
of God, for I am sure the best disposition for a good death is submission to His will. So I desire only the death by which He wishes
me to come to Him, and I am confident that in whatever way I die, His mercy will not fail me."

Even more, it is the teaching of great masters of the spiritual life that a person who, at the point of death, makes an act of perfect
conformity to the will of God will be delivered not only from hell but also from purgatory, even if he has committed all the sins in the
world. "The reason," says St. Alphonsus, "is that he who accepts death with perfect resignation acquires similar merit to that of a
martyr who has voluntarily given his life for Christ, and even amid the greatest sufferings he will die happily and joyfully."
In the Loss of Spiritual Consolation We ought to practice conformity to the will of God when we are deprived of those exterior aids
to our spiritual well-being that He pleases to withdraw from us.

For example a friend or counsellor on whom you rely for help and encouragement is taken away from you and you seem unable to
get along without him. There is, in fact, some truth in what you feel, in that you really need the help of someone, and the friend or
counsellor had been given to you for that very reason. But does God love you less now than He did when He made the gift? Is He no
longer your Father? Or does such a Father as He is desert His children? Your guide and friend has been of value to you so far, but is
he the right person to help you in what you are called to do now? 

Christ our divine Master said of Himself to His apostles It is expedient for you that I depart, for if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to
you, but if I go I will send him to you. 63 Who then can venture to say that it is not an advantage for him to lose a friend or spiritual
adviser, however excellent, wise or holy he may be?

But, you may answer, how do I know it is not a punishment my sins have brought on me? It may well be so, but the punishments
of a father become salutary remedies for obedient children. If you wish to stay the anger of your heavenly Father, soften His heart and
even oblige Him to send you fresh graces, then accept your punishment, and in return for your trustful surrender to Him He will
either find you someone to help you even better than before, or He Himself in His goodness will deign to be your guide. He will send you
His Holy Ghost as He sent Him to His apostles. He will enlighten your path and fortify you by the action of His grace.

Let us take another example. You are living a good Christian life in the practice of your religion. You fall seriously ill and cannot
frequent the Sacraments or assist at Mass -- perhaps you feel too weak even to pray. But do not grieve. You are called to the honor of
nourishing your soul by partaking, with Christ Himself, of a food that, perhaps, you know not of, and which will be the means of
making your illness a powerful means of sanctification. My food He said to His disciples, is to do the will of Him who sent Me. 64 It is the
same food that is offered to you, and note well that it is only by this food that it is given to us to live to eternal life. Prayer itself is
valueless unless it is vitalized by this health-giving food, as our Savior explained when He said: Not everyone who says to me 'Lord,
Lord' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven. 65
If then it is God who has placed you in the condition you are in, it is He who dispenses you from the practices of your religion,

63 John 16:7
64 id. 4:32,34
65 Matt. 7:21

nay, forbids them. So you should not worry, but remember that in exchange He expects you to take more care in doing His will by
giving up your own.

It is in order that you may make the doing of His will your chief food that the means to do it are so frequently given. How many
inconveniences and sacrifices are in fact imposed upon us by illness!  -- plans upset, expense incurred, unpleasant remedies, perhaps,
loneliness and lack of care -- a host of large and small annoyances. There are so many opportunities to say, 'God wishes it so. His will be
done.' Do not let any of these opportunities pass and you will be among those souls most dear to Christ. For whoever He said, does the
will of my Father who is in heaven, he is My brother, My sister, and My mother. 66

Let us take another example. Some great feast-day or solemnity is approaching and you prepare yourself in anticipation of
the joyful event. But when the day arrives you no longer feel the same as you did before. Your fervor has given place to disinterest and
spiritual dryness and you are incapable of a single good thought. Do not try to force yourself out of this state. It has been produced in you
by God, and we know that all that comes from Him is good, so it must be to your advantage if you submit to it.
Accept the situation from His hand, endeavoring as far as possible to be recollected in His presence and submitting yourself to
Him as a patient who awaits the healing action of the doctor, and you can rest assured that no spiritual consolation will ever be so
profitable to you as the dryness cheerfully born in a spirit of conformity to His will. It is not what we feel that prepares us for
God's grace, but the act of our will, and this act is not one of feeling. 

It may well be accompanied by pleasurable sentiments, but this adds nothing to the merit of it. In the sight of God the absence of this
sentiment or even the presence of contrary ones which we do not wish to have in no way minimizes the value of the act itself.
Let us realize this fact, that prayer has no need of feeling in order to be of value. It consists solely in the movement of the will
towards God, and by its nature this movement has nothing to do with feeling. God's grace operates in us in the same way. It may be
compared to the effects produced in us by the food we eat. We do not

66 id. 12:50

feel the food inside our bodies while it is engaged in its hidden work of restoring and fortifying; and in the same way Christ, our heavenly
food, who is given to us for our spiritual nourishment, works hiddenly in our souls.

But the trouble is we want to feel everything, and when we experience no feeling of satisfaction, we either get discouraged or try
by long and forced prayers to produce something inside ourselves to reassure us. Such efforts impede rather than aid the operation of
grace by occupying and agitating our minds too much.

It is related of St. Catherine of Siena that one day she asked  Our Lord why it was that God had so often revealed Himself to the
patriarchs, prophets and Christians of early times but rarely did so in her own time. Our Lord replied that it was because they were devoid
of self-esteem and came to Him as faithful disciples to await His inspiration, allowing themselves to be fashioned like gold in the
crucible or painted on by His hands like an artist's canvas, and letting Him write the law of love in their hearts.

But the Christians of her time acted as if He could not see or hear them, and wanted to do and say everything by themselves,
keeping themselves so busy and restless that they would not allow Him to work in them. Note that Our Savior had already tried to warn
us against such excess in the Gospel when He said When you pray, do not multiply words as the Gentiles do; for they think that by saying a
great deal they will be heard. So do not be like them for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 67

In the Consequences of Our Sins With submission and conformity to the will of God we should bear the evil consequences of which falling
into sin is often the cause. It may be some indisposition or some more serious effect on our health brought about by over-indulgence;
some sacrifice we have to make because of money spent foolishly for selfish ends; some bad turn in our affairs owing to impatient or 
imprudent conduct on our part; difficulty in resisting temptation and leading a good life because of a long habit of sin we have contracted
-- the situation fills us with worry and anxiety and we feel unable to cope with it. God certainly

67 id. 6:7

did not wish you should sin, but the sin having been committed, He wishes for your good that it should he followed by this punishment.
Accept it then from His hand in the belief that there is nothing more suited to regaining His favor than your humble acceptance of it.
Then, far from being prejudicial to you, your failures, in so far as they give you the opportunity of submitting to His will, will be as it were a
monument to your perseverance in God's service, and the more numerous they have been, the more glorious will be their witness to
your perseverance.

Let us take a practical example. A man has to make a journey on foot. He must go across rough country, he is without food and
almost exhausted, so he falls repeatedly. But he gets to his feet again each time, determined not to give in and, come what may, arrive at
his destination. When he finally arrives, is it not true to say that his perseverance has been all the greater and more heroic in proportion
to the number of obstacles he has had to overcome and the falls from which he has recovered?

In Interior Trials

We ought to conform to God's will in interior trials, that is to say in all the difficulties met with in our spiritual life, such as
temptations, scruples, anxieties, aridity, desolation and so on. Whatever immediate cause we may attribute to these states of mind,
we must always look beyond to God as their author. If we think they come from ourselves, then it is true to say that they have their origin
in the ignorance of our mind, the over-sensitiveness of our feelings, the disordered state of our imagination or the perversity of our
inclinations. But if we go back farther, if we ask where the defects themselves come from, we can only find their origin in the will of
God Who has not endowed us with greater perfection, and by making us subject to these infirmities has laid on us the duty of bearing all
the consequences of them for our sanctification until He is pleased to put an end to them. As soon as He judges it the right moment to
touch our mind or heart, we shall be enlightened, fortified and consoled.

Even if we suppose that our disturbed state is the work of the devil, it must still be attributed to God. Does not the history of Job
show that Satan has no power over us unless God gives it to him?  When Saul was beset by temptations of jealousy and hate towards
David, the Scriptures tell us, the evil spirit from God came upon Saul. 68 But if the spirit was from God, how could it be evil? And if it was
evil, how could it be from God? It is evil because of the devil's evil and depraved will to afflict men in order to bring them to perdition,
and it is from God because God allows him to afflict them in His plan of salvation for them.

Moreover we learn from the principles of our faith and the teaching of the saints that often God Himself by His immediate action
withdraws the visible effects of His grace for purposes in accordance with His wisdom and goodness.

How many persons who have become lukewarm and careless  in their duties are roused by the awareness of God's absence and are
able to regain the fervor they had lost! How many more have been  led to the practice of the highest virtue by interior trials! Who can
measure the degree of heroic virtue saints like St. Ignatius, St. Teresa or St. Francis of Sales attained by this means? We must consider it
the action of a Providence unceasingly attentive to the welfare of His children, who feigns to abandon them in order to rouse them from
slumber or increase their humility, self-distrust and self-renouncement, their confidence in God, submission to His will and perseverance in
prayer. Hence instead of allowing ourselves to become discouraged and faint-hearted under trials which may seem to overwhelm us,
let us act in the same way as we do when our bodies are sick, consult a good doctor -- a good spiritual director -- and applying the remedies
he advises, patiently await the effects that it pleases God to give.

Everything is meant for our good, and such trials ought to be counted as special graces from God. Whether or not they are sent as a
punishment for our sins, they come from Him and we should thank  Him for them, placing ourselves entirely in His hands. If we bear
them with patience we shall receive greater grace than if we were filled with a sense of fervent devotion.

68 1 Kings 18:10

In Spiritual Favors

Finally -- and this is perhaps the most difficult aspect of what concerns the practice of conformity to the will of God -- we should
desire virtue itself and the degrees of grace only in so far as God wishes to give them, and not desire more. Our whole ambition should
be to attain the degree of perfection that has been appointed for us, since it has not been given to everybody to reach the same height. It
is obvious that however well we may correspond with the graces given us, we can never equal the humility, charity and other virtues
of the Blessed Virgin. And who can even presume to imagine that he can reach the same heights as the apostles? Who can equal St. John
the Baptist whom Christ called the greatest of the children of men? Or St. Joseph to whom God entrusted His Son? In this we must as in
all else submit to the will of God. He must be able to say of us, My will is in them; it rules and governs everything.

So when we hear or read that God in a short time has brought some souls to a very high degree of perfection and shown them
signal favors, enlightened their understanding and imbued their hearts with His love, we should repress any desire to be treated
likewise so as not to fall short in pure love of conformity to His will. We should even unite ourselves still more closely to His will by
saying, "I praise Thee, O Lord, and bless Thee for deigning to show  Thyself with so great love and familiarity to the souls Thou hast
chosen. The honor you show them is above all measure, but the accomplishment of Thy holy will is of more concern to me than all
the marks of favor Thou hast shown Thy saints. The only favor I ask is that in no single thing should I ever do my own will and that my
will be entirely at one with Thine. Let others ask for what they wish, but my sole request is that I may wish what Thou wishest and Thy
purposes may be accomplished perfectly in me. Do with me, in me, and by me all that Thou wilt without resistance from me, in time and
in eternity."

Summary And Conclusion

This submission and conformity in all things to His will is so pleasing to God that it gained for David the honor of being called 'a
man after His heart.' I have found, He says, David the son of Jesse, a man after my heart who will do all that I desire. 69 David, in fact, was
so obedient to the commands of Providence that his heart was like wax, ever ready to receive indifferently any impression from the
hand of God. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast, he exclaims. 70 St. Bernard asks why in this verse of the psalm David
twice repeats the words My heart is steadfast, and replies that by this repetition he meant he was ready to accept bad fortune as well as
good, disgrace as well as honor, and was prepared for all that God willed. Let us, too, enter resolutely into the state of steadfastness
which rejoices the heart of our heavenly Father and will be the means of our sanctification, the source of peace and joy in this world
and the pledge of our eternal happiness in the next.

It is useful for this purpose to familiarize ourselves with those phrases in Scripture where conformity to the will of God is expressed
in the clearest manner. We can say, for example, with St. Paul, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? 71 I am ready to do what ever you will.
Or with David, I was like a brute beast in your presence 72 not  questioning, and obeying unresistingly. I am thine; do with me
according to thy good pleasure. 73 I seek not my own will, said Our Savior, I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the
will of Him who sent me. My food is to do the will of my Father who is in heaven. 74

Following our divine model let us make our food the accomplishment of God's will. Father, let it be so, for such is thy good
pleasure -- Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 75 Our Savior recommended St. Catherine of Genoa to pause particularly on these
words when she recited the Our Father. We should do the same and 69

1 Kings 16:12; Acts 13:22
70 Ps. 56:8; 107:2
71 Acts 9-6
72 Ps. 72:22
73 id. 118:94
74 John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38
75 Matt. 11:26; 6:10

often pray God that His holy will may be accomplished here below in ourselves and in all creatures with the same perfection and for the
same reasons that the saints accomplish it in heaven.

When we find some difficulty in obeying God or feel inclined to rebel, let us say with David, Why art thou downcast, o my soul? He
has given you everything you have, He has provided everything for your salvation. I will not resist Him, I will obey His orders, for
He is my savior and my God; and if human nature refuses to do what He orders, He is my strength to overcome it. 76

Let us say with Our Lord during His agony, Father, not my will but thine be done. 77 "These words of our Divine Master,"
says the great St. Leo, "are the salvation of His whole Mystical Body, the Church. These words have instructed all the faithful, inspired all
the confessors, crowned all the martyrs. Let all the Church's children, redeemed at so high a price, justified without any deserving
on their part, learn these words and using them as a safe defense when they are assailed by any strong temptation, they will resist the
attacks of nature and suffer tribulation with courage. In this spirit of conformity to His will we should accept not only all the incidents of
our daily lives but all the inner struggles and difficulties such resignation may cost us, because God wishes us to experience them
for His glory and our own profit.

Let us note here, with regard to the difficulties we may find in submitting to the will of God, that even when our will is firmly
decided to submit, and has in fact submitted, our mind, following its natural inclination, may still continue to reason and argue on the
events that are occurring or may occur. We may say to ourselves for example: "If I were now well, or if I were to fall ill, if I were given
such and such a job, if I were sent to such and such a place, if such and such a thing happened, it would be good (or bad) for me, it would
help (or prevent) my plans, I could do this or that as I want to," and so on. Nature tries thus to obtain at least the satisfaction of thinking
about and discussing the incidents of our lives. But we should endeavor to exterminate these remains of our corrupt nature, and
just as for the love of God we have forbidden our will to use its freedom of choice, for the same reason we ought to deny our mind
the freedom of discussion and judgment. Let us entrust ourselves  totally and unreservedly to the direction of Divine Providence.

76 Ps. 42:2
77 Luke 22:42

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RE: Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure - by Hildegard of Bingen - 03-07-2021, 03:42 PM

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