Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure
Adversity Is Useful for the Just and Necessary For Sinners

Imagine the anguish and tears of a mother who is present at a painful operation her child has to undergo. Can anyone doubt on
seeing her that she consents to allow the child to suffer only because she expects it to get well and be spared further suffering by means of
this violent remedy?

Reason in the same manner when adversity befalls you. You complain that you are ill-treated, insulted, slandered, robbed. Your
Redeemer (the name is a tenderer one than that of father or mother),  your Redeemer is a witness to all you are suffering. He who loves you
and has emphatically declared that whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye, nevertheless allows you to be stricken though He
could easily prevent it. Do you hesitate to believe that this passing trial is necessary for the health of your soul?

Even if the Holy Ghost had not called blessed those who suffer, if every page of Scripture did not proclaim aloud the necessity
of adversity, if we did not see that suffering is the normal destiny of those who are friends of God, we should still be convinced that it is of
untold advantage to us. It is enough to know that the God Who chose to suffer all the most horrible tortures the rage of man can invent
rather then see us condemned to the slightest pain in the next life is the same God who prepares and offers us the chalice of bitterness we
must drink in this world. A God Who has so suffered to prevent us from suffering would not make us suffer today to give Himself cruel
and pointless pleasure.

We must have trust in Providence

When I see a Christian grief-stricken at the trials God sends him I say to myself: Here is a man who is grieved at his own
happiness. He is asking God to be delivered from something he ought to be thanking Him for. I am quite sure that nothing more
advantageous could happen to him than what causes him so much grief. I have a hundred unanswerable reasons for saying so. But if I
could read into the future and see the happy outcome of his present misfortune, how greatly strengthened I would be in my judgment! If
we could discover the designs of Providence it is certain we would  ardently long for the evils we are now so unwilling to suffer. We
would rush forward to accept them with the utmost gratitude if we had a little faith and realized how much God loves us and has our
interests at heart.

What profit can come to me from this illness which ties me down and obliges me to give up all the good I was doing, you may
ask. What advantage can I expect from this ruin of my life which leaves me desperate and hopeless? It is true that sudden great
misfortune at the moment it comes may appear to overwhelm you and not allow you the opportunity there and then of profiting by it.
But wait a while and you will see that by it God is preparing you to receive the greatest marks of His favor. But for this accident you
would not have perhaps become less good than you are, but you would not have become holy. Isn't it true that since you have been
trying to lead a good Christian life there has been something you have been unwilling to surrender to God? Some worldly ambition,
some pride in your attainments, some indulgence of the body, some blameworthy habit, some company that is the occasion of sin for
you? It was only this final step that prevented you from attaining the perfect freedom of the love of God. It wasn't really very much, but
you could not bring yourself to make this last sacrifice.

It wasn't very much, but there is nothing harder for a  Christian than to break the last tie that binds him to the world or to
his own self. He knows he ought to do it, and until he does it there is something wrong with his life. But the very thought of the remedy
terrifies him, for the malady has taken such a hold on him that it cannot be cured without the help of a serious and painful operation.
So it was necessary to take you unawares, to cut deep into the flesh with skillful hand when you were least expecting it and remove the
ulcer concealed within, or otherwise you would never be well. The misfortune which has befallen you will soon do what all your
exercises of piety would never have been able to do.

Unexpected advantages from our trials

If the consequence of your adversity is that which was intended by God, if it turns you aside completely from creatures to
give yourself unreservedly to your Creator, I am sure that your thanks to Him for having afflicted you will be greater than your
prayers were to remove the affliction. In comparison with this  misfortune all the other benefits you have received from Him will
appear to have been very slight favors indeed. You have always regarded the temporal blessings He has hitherto showered on you
and your family as the effects of His goodness towards you, but now you will see clearly and realize to the depths of your being that He
has never loved you so much as when He took away all that He gave you for your prosperity, and that if He was generous in giving you a
family, a good position, an income and good health, He has been over-generous in taking them all away.

I am not referring to the merit we acquire by the virtue of patience. Generally speaking, one day of adversity can be of more
profit to us for our eternal salvation than years of untroubled living,  whatever good use we make of the time.

It is common knowledge that prosperity has the effect of softening us. When a man is materially well off and content with his
state, it is a great deal if he takes the trouble to think of God two or three times a day. His mind is so pleasantly occupied with his worldly
affairs that it is easy for him to forget all the rest. Adversity on the other hand leads us as if naturally to raise our eyes to Heaven to seek
consolation in our distress. Certainly God can be glorified whatever condition we are in, and the life of a Christian who serves Him when
fortune is favorable is most pleasing to Him. But can he please Him as much as the man who blesses Him while he is suffering? It cannot be
doubted that a man who enjoys good health, position, wealth and the world's esteem, if he uses his advantages as he ought, attributing
them to God and thanking Him for them, by doing so glorifies his Maker and leads a Christian life. But if Providence takes away what
he has and strikes him down, and in the midst of his reverses he continues to express the same sentiments, returning the same
thanks and obeying his Lord with the same promptness and submission as he did formerly, it is then that he proclaims the glory
of God and the efficacy of His grace in the most convincing and striking manner.

Opportunities for acquiring merit and saving our souls Judge then what recompense those persons will receive from
Christ who have followed Him along the way of His Cross. On the judgment day we shall understand how much God has loved us by
giving us the opportunities to merit so rich a reward. Then we shall reproach ourselves for complaining at what was meant to increase
our happiness, for grieving when we should have been rejoicing, for doubting God's goodness when He was giving us concrete evidence of
it. If such will be our feelings one day, why not anticipate them now? Why not bless God here and now for something we shall be thanking
Him for everlastingly in heaven?

It is clear from this that whatever the manner of our life we should always accept adversity joyfully. If we are leading a good life
adversity purifies us, makes us better and enables us to acquire greater merit. If our life is sinful it serves to bring us to repentance
and obliges us to become good.

Recourse to Prayer

It is a strange fact that though Christ repeatedly and solemnly promised to answer our prayers, most Christians are continually
complaining that He does not do so. We cannot account for this by saying that the reason is because of the kind of things we ask for,
since He included everything in His promise -- All things whatsoever you shall ask. Nor can we attribute it to the unworthiness of those
who ask, for His promise extended to everybody without exception -- Whoever asks shall receive. Why is it then that so many prayers
remain unanswered? Can it be that as most people are never satisfied, they make such excessive and impatient demands on God
that they tire and annoy Him by their importunity? The case is just the opposite. The only reason why we obtain so little from God is
because we ask for so little and we are not insistent enough. Christ promised on behalf of His Father that He would give us everything,
even the very smallest things. But He laid down an order to be observed in all that we ask, and if we do not obey this rule we are
unlikely to obtain anything. He tells us in St. Matthew: Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice and all these things shall be given to
you besides.

To obtain what we want

We are not forbidden to wish for money, material well-being and whatever is necessary to maintain us in our position in life, but
we must wish for these things in their proper order. If we want our desires in this respect to be met without fail we must first of all ask
for the larger things, so that while granting them He may also add the smaller ones.

We can take an example from the case of Solomon. God gave him the choice of whatever he desired and he asked for wisdom,
which was needful for him to carry out his kingly duties. He did not ask for riches or glory, judging that if God gave him such an
opportunity he ought to make use of it to obtain the greatest advantage. His prudence gained for him both what he asked for and
what he did not ask for. Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life or riches . . . behold I have done for
thee according to thy words --I will willingly grant you wisdom because you have asked me for it, but I will give you long life, honor
and riches as well because you did not ask for any of them -- Yea, and the things also which thou didst not ask, to wit, riches and glory.

If then this is the order God observes in the distribution of His benefits, we must not be surprised if our prayers have so far been
unsuccessful. I confess that I am often moved to pity when I see the eagerness of some people in giving alms, making vows of pilgrimage
and fasting, or having Masses said for the success of their temporal affairs. I am afraid the prayers they say and get said are of little use.
They should make their offerings and vow their pilgrimages to obtain from God the amendment of their lives, the gift of Christian
patience, contempt for the things of the world and detachment from creatures. Then afterwards they could pray for return of health or
success in business. God would then answer these prayers, or rather He would anticipate them; it would be enough to know their desires
for Him to fulfil them.

Until we have obtained these first graces, anything else may be harmful to us and, in fact, usually is so. That is the reason why we
are refused. We murmur and accuse God of not keeping His promises. But our God is a Father of kindness who prefers to put up with our
complaints and criticisms rather than stop them by gifts which would be fatal to us.

To be delivered from evil

What has been said of benefits can also be said of the ills from which we wish to be delivered. I do not desire wealth, a person will
say, but I would be satisfied with not having to suffer hardship. I leave fame and reputation to those who want it, but I would like at
least not to be an object of scorn. I can do without pleasures, but I cannot support pain; I have prayed and begged God to lessen it but
He will not hear me. It is not surprising. You have secret ills far greater than the ills you complain of, but you do not ask Him to
deliver you from them. If for this purpose you had said half the prayers you have said to be healed from your outward ills, God would
have delivered you from both a long time since. Poverty serves to keep you humble while your nature is proud, the scorn of the world
to free you from your attachment to it, illness to keep you from the pleasure-seeking which would be your ruin. It would be hating you,
not loving you, to take away your cross before giving you the virtues you lack. If God found some desire in you for these virtues He would
give you them without delay, and it would be unnecessary for you to ask for the other things.

We do not ask enough

It is clear then that we do not receive anything because we do not ask enough.

God could not give us little, He could not restrict His liberality to small things without doing us grave harm. Do not misunderstand
me. I am not saying that we offend God if we ask for temporal benefits or to be freed from misfortune. Obviously prayers of this
kind can rightly be addressed to Him by making the condition that they are not contrary to His glory or our eternal salvation. But as it is
hardly likely that it would redound to His glory for Him to answer them, or to our advantage to have them answered if our wishes end
there, it must be repeated that as long as we are content with little we run the risk of obtaining nothing.

Let me show you a good way to ask for happiness even in this world. It is a way that will oblige God to listen to you. Say to him
earnestly: Either give me so much money that my heart will be satisfied, or inspire me with such contempt for it that I no longer
want it.

Either free me from poverty, or make it so pleasant for me that I would not exchange it for all the wealth in the world. Either
take away my suffering, or -- which would be to your greater glory -- change it into delight for me, and instead of causing me affliction, let
it become a source of joy. You can take away the burden of my cross, or you can leave it with me without my feeling its weight. You can
extinguish the fire that burns me, or you can let it burn in such a way that it refreshes me as it did the three youths in the fiery furnace.

I ask you for either one thing or the other. What does it matter in what way I am happy? If I am happy through the
possession of worldly goods, it is you I have to thank. If I am happy  when deprived of them, it gives you greater glory and my thanks are
all the greater. This is the kind of prayer worthy of being offered to God by a true Christian.

When you pray in this way, do you know what the effect of your prayers will be?

First, you will be satisfied whatever happens; and what else do those who most desire this world's goods want except to be
satisfied? Secondly, you will not only obtain without fail one of the two things you have asked for but, as a rule, you will obtain both of
them. God will give you the enjoyment of wealth, and so that you may possess it without the danger of becoming attached to it, He will
inspire you at the same time with contempt for it. He will put an end to your sufferings and even more He will leave you with a desire for
them which will give you all the merit of patience without having to suffer. In a word He will make you happy here and now, and lest your
happiness should do you harm, He will let you know and feel the emptiness of it. Can one ask for anything better?

But if such a great blessing is well worth being asked for, remember that still more is it worth being asked for with insistence.
For the reason why we obtain little is not only because we ask for little but still more because, whether we ask a little or we ask a lot,
we do not ask often enough.

Perseverance in Prayer

If you want all your prayers to be answered without fail and oblige God to meet all your wishes, the first thing is never to stop
praying. Those who get tired after praying for a time are lacking in either humility or confidence, and so do not deserve to be heard. You
would think that they expected their requests to be obeyed at once as if they were orders. Surely we know that God resists the proud and
shows His favors to the humble. Won't our pride allow us to ask more than once for the same thing? It shows very little trust in God's
goodness to give up so soon and take a delay for an absolute refusal.

Once we have really understood just how far God's goodness extends we can never believe that we have been refused or that He
wishes to deprive us of hope.

Rather, the more He makes us keep on asking for something we want, the more confident we should feel that we shall eventually
obtain it. We can begin to doubt that our prayer has been heard only  when we notice we have stopped praying. If after a year we find that
our prayer is as fervent as it was at the beginning, then we need not doubt about the success of our efforts, and instead of losing courage
after so long a delay, we should rejoice because we can be certain that our desires will be all the more fully satisfied for the length of
time we have prayed. If our first attempts had been quite useless we  would not have repeated them so often and we would have lost hope;
but as we have kept on in spite of this, there is good reason to believe we shall be liberally rewarded.

In fact it took St. Monica sixteen years to obtain the conversion of Augustine, but the conversion was entire and far
beyond what she had prayed for. Her desire was that her son's incontinence might be checked by marriage, and instead she had the
joy of seeing him embrace a life of holy chastity. She had only wanted him to he baptized and become a Christian, and she saw him
a bishop. She asked God to turn him aside from heresy, and God made him a pillar of the Church and its champion against heretics. Think
what would have happened had she given up hope after a couple of years, after ten or twelve years, when her prayers appeared to obtain
no result and her son grew worse instead of better, adding avarice and ambition to the wildness of his life and sinking further and
further into error. She would have wronged her son, thrown away her own happiness, and deprived the world of one of the greatest
Christian thinkers.

Obstinate Trust

As a final word I address myself to those faithful souls kneeling in prayer before the altar and asking God for the graces He
is so pleased to hear us asking for. You who are happy that God has shown you the vanity of the world, you who groan under the yoke of
your passions and beg to be delivered from them, you who burn with desire to love God and serve Him as He would be served, you who
intercede with God for the sake of one who is dear to you, do not grow weary of asking, be steadfast and tireless in your demands. If
you are refused today, tomorrow you will obtain everything; if this year brings nothing, the next will bring you abundance. Never think
your efforts are wasted. Your every word is numbered and what you receive will be in the measure of the time you have spent asking.
Your treasure is piling up and suddenly one day it will overflow to an extent beyond your dreams.

Consider the workings of Divine Providence and think that  the refusal you meet with now is only God's stratagem to increase
your fervor. Remember how He acted towards the Canaanite woman, treating her harshly and refusing to see or listen to her. He seemed
to be irritated by her importunity, but in reality He admired it and was delighted with her trust and humility, and for that reason He
repulsed her. With what tenderness does He repulse those whom He most wishes to be indulgent to, hiding His clemency under the mask
of cruelty! Take care not to be deceived by it. The more He seems to be unwilling, the more you must insist.

Do as the woman of Canaan, use against Him the very arguments He may have for refusing you. It is true that to hear me,
you should say to Him, would be to give the bread of the children to dogs. I do not deserve the grace I ask, but I do not ask You to give me
what I deserve; I ask it through the merits of my Redeemer. You ought to think more of Your promises than of my unworthiness, and
You will be unjust to Yourself if You give me only what I deserve. If I were worthier of Your benefits it would be less to Your glory to give
me them. It is unjust to grant favors to a sinner, but I do not appeal to Your justice but to Your mercy.

Do not lose courage when you have begun so well to struggle with God. Do not give Him a moment's rest. He loves the violence of
your attack and wants to be overcome by you. Make importunity your watchword, let persistence be a miracle in you. Compel God to
throw off the mask and say to you with admiration 'Great is thy faith, be it done as thou wishest. I can no longer resist you, you shall have
what you desire, in this life and the next.'

Messages In This Thread
RE: Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure - by Hildegard of Bingen - 03-15-2021, 02:56 PM

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)