"If the business of becoming holy seems to present insufferable difficulties, it is merely because we have a wrong idea about it. In reality, holiness consists of one thing only:
complete loyalty to God's will. Now everyone can practice this loyalty, whether actively or passively.
To be actively loyal means obeying the laws of God and the Church and fulfilling all the duties imposed on us by our way of life. Passive loyalty means that we lovingly accept all that God sends us at each moment of the day. Now is there anything here too difficult for us? Certainly nothing in active loyalty, for if its duties are beyond our powers, we are not expected to attempt to fulfill them. If we are too ill to go to Mass, we need not. And it is the same for all other precepts which lay down duties. But, of course, there can be no exemption from precepts which forbid wrongdoing, for we are never allowed to sin. Can anything be more sensible? Or easier? We are left without any excuse. Yet God asks nothing more than this. But he does require it from everyone, without exception [economic or social] Class, time and place mean nothing. Every one must obey. Yet all he is asking from us is very straight forward and quite easy. We can become truly holy by obeying these simple rules. However, apart from the Commandments, he gives us counsels of perfection; yet, even here, he takes care that the practice of them fits in with our temperament and our position in life. He never drives anyone beyond his strength or ability. What could be fairer?
God has compelled me to write this to help you who seek to be holy and are discouraged by what you have read in the lives of saints and some books dealing with spiritual matters. So do, please, try to learn from me.
God, who is all goodness, has made easily available for all the things necessary for life, such as earth, air and water. And what could be more vital than breathing, eating and sleeping? And what is easier? When we turn to spiritual matters, love and loyalty are just as vital, so they cannot be as difficult to acquire as we imagine. Consider your life, and you will see that it consists of countless trifling actions. Yet God is quite satisfied with them, for doing them as they should be done is the part we have to play in our striving for perfection. There can be no doubt about this. Holy Scripture makes it very plain: "Fear God, and keep his commandments, since this is the whole duty of man" (Eccles. 12:13). This is all we have to do. This is active loyalty. If we do our part, God will do the rest. Grace will pour into us and will perform marvels far beyond our understanding, for "no eye has seen and no ear has heard things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him" (I Cor. 2:9). To be passively loyal is even easier, since it implies only that we accept what very often we cannot avoid, and endure with love and resignation things which could cause us weariness and disgust. Once again, this is what being holy means. It is the mustard seed which is almost too small to be recognized or harvested, the drachma of the Gospels, the treasure that no one finds, as it is thought to be too well hidden to be looked for.
But what is the secret of finding this treasure? There isn't one. This treasure is everywhere. It is offered to us all the time and wherever we are. All creatures, friends or foes, pour it out in abundance, and it flows through every fiber of our body and soul until it reaches the very core of our being. If we open our mouths they will be filled. God's activity runs through the universe. It wells up and around and penetrates every created being. Where they are, there it is also. It goes ahead of them, it is with them and it follows them. All they have to do is let its waves sweep them onwards. If only kings and their ministers, princes of the Church and of the world, priests, soldiers and ordinary people knew how easy it would he for them to become very holy! All they need to do is fulfill faithfully the simple duties of Christianity and those called for by their state of life, accept cheerfully all the troubles they meet and submit to God's will in all that they have to do or suffer-without, in any way, seeking out trouble for themselves. It is this attitude which gave such holiness to those patriarchs and prophets who lived long before there were so many methods of spirituality and so many directors of souls. This is the true spirituality, which is valid for all times and for everybody. We cannot become truly good in a better, more marvelous, and yet easier way than by the simple use of the means offered us by God, the unique director of souls. It is the ready acceptance of all that comes to us at each moment of our lives.
(4) To become perfect we need not understand the designs of God, but only obey them.
The designs of God-what he chooses to do, his will, his actions, and his grace-are all one and the same thing, all working together to enable us to reach perfection. And perfection is neither more nor less than the soul's faithful cooperation with God. This cooperation begins, grows and comes to fruition in our souls so secretly that we are not aware of it. Theology is crammed with theories and explanations about the wonders of this state. We may know all about these theories and be able to speak and write about them brilliantly, teach them to others and give spiritual advice, but if we have only an intellectual knowledge of them we are compared to those who do God's will and yet know absolutely nothing of theology and certainly cannot talk about it. complexities, like a doctor who is ill compared with simple people who enjoy perfect health. If a faithful soul accepts God's will and purpose in all simplicity, he will reach perfection without ever realizing it, just as a sick man who swallows his medicine obediently will be cured, although he neither knows nor cares about medicine. We need know nothing about the chemistry of combustion to enjoy the warmth of a fire. Holiness is produced in us by the will of God and our acceptance of it. It is not produced by intellectual speculation about it. If we are thirsty we must have a drink and not worry about books which explain what thirst is. If we waste time seeking an explanation about thirst, all that will happen is that we shall get thirstier. It is the same when we thirst after holiness. The desire to know more about it will only drive it further away. We must put all speculation aside and, with childlike willingness, accept all that God presents to us. What God arranges for us to experience at each moment is the best and holiest thing that could happen to us.
All our learning should consist of finding out what God has planned for us at each moment...."
The designs of God and his will give life to the soul in whatever guise they appear, nourishing and developing it by giving it what is best for it. This happy state is not brought about by any special happening, but by what God has willed for each moment. What was the best thing for us to do in the moment that has passed is no longer so, for the will of God is now manifesting itself in those circumstances which are the duty of the present moment. It is the fulfilling of this duty, no matter in what guise it presents itself, which does most to make one holy. For example, if it is God's will that the present moment should be spent in reading, then reading will exert a mystical power in the depths of the soul; but if he wishes us to abandon reading for the duty of contemplation, then it is contemplation which will work on our souls and reading would be useless and detrimental; if he wants us to put aside contemplation in order to hear confessions even for a very considerable time, this duty unites us with Jesus Christ, and all the sweetness of contemplation would then only destroy this union.
All our moments are made productive by our obedience to the will of God, which reveals itself in a thousand different ways, each of which successively becomes our immediate duty. Together they mold and perfect within us that 'new self" (Eph. 4:24) until we reach that complete fulfillment of ourselves which God's wisdom has ordained for us... We have to do nothing except allow his holy will to work within us and surrender ourselves to it blindly with absolute confidence. His will is all-wise, all-powerful and infinitely kind to all who trust it completely and without reserve, to all who love it and seek nothing else, believe with firm faith and resolute confidence that what it assigns for each moment is best...
God's action is boundless in its scope and power, but it can only fill our souls if we empty them of all false confidence in our own ability. This false confidence can check the activity of God within us. God can, when he pleases, change all other obstacles into aids for spiritual progress. For, to him, everything is the same, equally useful or equally useless. Without him everything is nothing and with him nothing is everything. We may meditate, indulge in contemplation, pray aloud, practice interior silence, live an active life or one withdrawn from the world and though they may all be valuable, there is nothing better for us than to do what God wants at any particular moment. We must regard everything else with complete indifference and as something worth nothing at all. As we see only God in everything, we must take or leave all things according to his will, so that we neither live, nor develop, nor hope except as he ordains, and never try to use things which have neither power nor worth except through him. We must at all times and in all circumstances say with St. Paul: "Lord, what do you want me to do?" (Acts 9:6). We must not pick and choose. We must say: "I will do everything you wish. My mind wants to do one thing, my body another, but, Lord, I want to do nothing but obey your holy will. Work or every kind of prayer, vocal or mental, active or passive, are all nothing unless your will gives them meaning. All my devotion is to your holy will, not for the things of this world, however grand and noble they are, for grace is given to us because of the love in our hearts and not for any outstanding qualities of our minds."
What makes us holy is the presence of God through the dwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the depths of our hearts when we give them up to God's will.
If we do not concentrate entirely on doing the will of God we shall find neither happiness nor holiness, no matter what pious practices we adopt, however excellent they may be. If you are not satisfied with what God chooses for you, what else can please you? Does the food prepared for you by God Himself disgust you? Well, can you say what other food would not seem stale to someone with so perverted a taste? We must realize that we cannot be really fed, strengthened, purified, enriched and made holy unless we fulfill the duties of the present moment. What else do you want? Why look elsewhere? Are you wiser than God? Why do you seek any thing different from what he desires? Do you imagine, considering his wisdom and goodness, that he can be wrong? When you come across something ordained by this wisdom and goodness you must surely be convinced of its excellence. Do you for one moment imagine you will find peace by resisting the Almighty? It is rather this resistance, which we often keep up without realizing it, that is the source of all our trouble. It is only right that if we are discontented with what God offers us every moment, we should be punished by finding nothing else that will content us. If books, the example of the saints and discussions about spiritual matters, do nothing but disturb our peace of mind, and if we feel satiated but unsatisfied by them, it is a sure sign that we have not truly abandoned ourselves to God's will, that we are occupy ourselves with these things out of self-love. They prevent God's entry into our souls, and so we must get rid of these obstacles. Provided, though, that God desires us to have them, we must accept them like everything else as part of God's plan for us. We take them, use them, abandon them as soon as their purpose is over and attend to the work of the present moment. In reality, nothing benefits us that does not arise from God's will, and there is absolutely nothing that gives us more peace or does more to make us holy than obeying the will of God."
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