Every so often, you read something and it hits you like a ton of bricks. For me, at the moment, that is Uniformity with God’s Will by St Alphonsus de Liguori (1696 – 1787).
And you realise, wow, I really suck at following Christ. Sure, I don’t do (much) bad stuff and yes, I definitely do love God. But, seriously, I’m like a fair-weather friend, constantly up and down depending on whether things are going as I think they should.
When things are good, I think “yay! God loves me!” and when they’re bad I don’t think God doesn’t love, but I’m still like, “WHY WOULD GOD DO THIS TO ME? TO MEEEEEE???” (poor, poor, little me…)
Anyway, you get the picture. That’s no way to love God.
If we would completely rejoice the heart of God, let us strive in all things to conform ourselves to his divine will. Let us not only strive to conform ourselves, but also to unite ourselves to whatever dispositions God makes of us. Conformity signifies that we join our wills to the will of God. Uniformity means more — it means that we make one will of God’s will and ours, so that we will only what God wills; that God’s will alone, is our will. This is the summit of perfection and to it we should always aspire; this should be the goal of all our works, desires, meditations and prayers. To this end we should always invoke the aid of our holy patrons, our guardian angels, and above all, of our other Mary, the most perfect of all the saints because she most perfectly embraced the divine will.
How often do I thank God for blessings and then turn around and grumble at the slightest difficulties? How often do I expect God to give me exactly what I want and when I want it? And how often am I confused and dismayed when tiny hurdles or less-than-ideal situations appear?
Those questions are easy to answer: ALL THE TIME.
The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God’s will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God. St. John of Avila used to say: “One ‘Blessed be God’ in times of adversity, is worth more than a thousand acts of gratitude in times of prosperity.”
How messed up is that? God, my Lord and my All — the One who seeks only my good — is sovereign over every aspect of my life. If hard times come, let alone the not-quite-as-awesome-as-I’d-prefer times, then He must mean those for my good too!
Furthermore, we must unite ourselves to God’s will not only in things that come to us directly from his hands, such as sickness, desolation, poverty, death of relatives, but likewise in those we suffer from man — for example, contempt, injustice, loss of reputation, loss of temporal goods and all kinds of persecution. On these occasions we must remember that whilst God does not will the sin, he does will our humiliation, our poverty, or our mortification, as the case may be. It is certain and of faith, that whatever happens, happens by the will of God: “I am the Lord forming the light and creating the darkness, making peace and creating evil.” (Is 45:6, 7) From God come all things, good as well as evil. We call adversities evil; actually they are good and meritorious, when we receive them as coming from God’s hands: “Shall there be evil in a city which the Lord hath not done?” (Amos 3:6) “Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches are from God.” (Sirach 11:14) […]
Except we all know the temptation here, don’t we? But it’s too hard. And so I whine, and complain, and grumble and feel self-entitled all over again. Then I start thinking, well I would… if only I had such-and-such or if only I was like so-and-so…
Above all, let us bend all our energies to serve God in the way he wishes. This remark is made so that we may avoid the mistake of him who wastes his time in idle day-dreaming. Such a one says, “If I were to become a hermit, I would become a saint” or “If I were to enter a monastery, I would practice penance” or “If I were to go away from here, leaving friends and companions, I would devote long hours to prayer.” If, If, If — all these if’s! In the meantime such a person goes from bad to worse. These idle fancies are often temptations of the devil, because they are not in accord with God’s will. Hence we should dismiss them summarily and rouse ourselves to serve God only in that way which he has marked out for us. Doing his holy will, we shall certainly become holy in those surroundings in which he has placed us.
What a kick up the butt this is! My job isn’t to be successful. It isn’t to lead an impressive life of holiness. It certainly isn’t to wait until optimal conditions arrive, or even to try optimise those conditions.
No, my task is to do the most unglamorous thing imaginable: God’s will for me. Right here, right now, right away. Fortunately, it might be unglamorous but it is also the most glorious thing imaginable. Because there is no greater privilege than to say with Christ, His Mother, and all His angels and saints, “Lord, thy will be done.”
They are the very words that secured the redemption of the world!
Let us will always and ever only what God wills; for so doing, he will press us to his heart. To this end let us familiarize ourselves with certain texts of sacred scripture that invite us to unite ourselves constantly with the divine will: “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” (Acts 9:6) Tell me, my God, what thou wilt have me do, that I may will it also, with all my heart. “I am thine, save thou me.” (Ps 118:94) I am no longer my own, I am thine, O Lord, do with me as thou wilt.