TRUSTFUL SURRENDER TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE
REVEREND JEAN BAPTISTE SAINT-JURE
AND SAINT CLAUDE LA COLOMBIÈRE
TRANSLATED BY PAUL GARVIN
(2013-02-11). Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition.
This little pamphlet is a great pick-me-up, no doubt enhanced by the English translation of Paul Garvin. It has genuine authority to offer consolation to whomever might be in doubt about the whole gamut of questions which face us individually and in relationship as priests, religious, lay people, whether married or single.
The following passage really got me thinking about the mystery of vocation and why a family might not be blessed with a religious or priestly vocation. It says a couple things better than I have been able to formulate them for myself to date:
"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." (2 Cor. 9:8)[Kindle Location 431-440]
One cannot be "pollyannaish" about the responsibilities entailed by marriage and family life, especially the worries which accompany having a large family, but if a husband a wife could truly believe and consider "God more than themselves as the father of their children"... I think we would have less worry about having enough priests and sisters for the needs of the Church.
Over and over again we hunch our backs at the insults and unjust demands heaped upon us by our superiors; we have no confidence in them. It is good to remember that is not the point of the exercise. Divine Providence is ultimately in charge of the game and seeks our conformity to His Will, often foisted upon us by the coarse, the wicked or the vain:
"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." [Kindle Locations 189-194]
Thinking about this final Sunday of another liturgical year, I think it crucial for myself and for all believers to renew our faith in what is meant by the mystery of Christ's Kingship: that He is indeed in control of the universe, that He reigns over all, and that, yes, He indeed hears and answers our prayers:
"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." [Kindle Locations 913-921]
Many times I try my best to remember how life was for me as a small child (before TV! - yes, that old!), which means before all the gadgets and invasive expectations which toss me willingly or unwillingly to and fro. Above all, I guess I'd like to understand what perseverance in prayer should mean in my life, what storming heaven for something or someone would be all about. My questions revolve around both length and intensity. Just today I was reading an account of the type of Lenten fasting which St. Gregory the Great did as a monk, to the point of fainting dead away... Not that I am advocating such, but the King deserves more I suspect, when I come to Him with my petition. St. Monica, pray for us!
"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." [Kindle Locations 991-997]
As this great Year of Faith draws to a conclusion, we may find our efforts to seek God and submit to the Divine Will not up to the measure of the Church's saints. Let us not despair but renew our resolve and as it says somewhere in Holy Writ gird up the loins of our understanding!
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI