Les Femmes

E-mail from Heaven: Is your computer on?

How hard it is to conform our wills to God’s when He says, “No!” to our desires, especially when those desires are good. A mother and father’s desire for a child is a natural good. Wanting blessings for our children: health, happiness, prosperity - are all goods. Evil arises, however, when we use wicked means to seek good. A house divided against itself cannot stand. What do the saints say? They urge us to desire only what conforms to God’s will? Our happiness and salvation depend on it.

St. Robert Southwell: Many people know little about St. Robert Southwell, the poet, Jesuit priest, and English martyr. Trained and ordained in France at the famous seminary at Douai, he returned to England in 1586 to secretly serve the Catholics suffering under Queen Elizabeth. He was captured in 1592, held in the Tower, tortured, and finally executed in 1595 by being hanged, drawn, and quartered. Southwell knew that martyrdom was likely and, like so many Jesuit priests before and after him, prayed for it. He practiced the presence of God diligently. From his Short Rules of a Good Life he described this pious devotion: “I must in every room of the house where I dwell imagine in some decent place thereof a throne or chair of estate and dedicate the same and the whole room to God himself, that whensoever I enter into it I enter as it were into a chapel or church that is devoted to him and therefore in mind do that reverence that is due unto him. And thus will that place be to me in manner a paradise, and the consideration of God’s presence will be a continual bridle to restrain me from irreverent demeanor….It is good to appoint in every room some certain and determinate pictures [of saints] to be patterns and examples unto me.” What a good practice to keep oneself always aware of the presence of God, a prerequisite to desiring His will. Does your own home have many reminders of God’s presence?

St. Alphonsus Liguori: St. Alphosus was well aware of his weakness and sinfulness. Knowing that his strength depended on the Holy Eucharist he called on God continually in his Communion meditations. “As long as I live, I am in danger of changing my will and betraying Thee as I have done before: do Thou help me….Strengthen, then, my will, unite my miserable heart to Thy divine heart, that it may always will what Thou wilt.” The saint urged his flock in the same way saying, “If, devout soul, it is your will to please God and live a life of serenity in this world, unite yourself always and in all things to the divine will. Reflect that all the sins of your past wicked life happened because you wandered from the path of God’s will.” Joy, peace, contentment – all depend on  conforming our wills to the will of God. Another bit of wisdom from the saint: “God has made the attainment of our happiness His glory. Even chastisements come to us, not to crush us, but to make us mend our ways and save our souls.” Let us remember that the next time we face trials.

St. Teresa of Avila: St. Teresa wrote many after-Communion meditations recognizing the tremendous love of God which should move us to profound gratitude. Let us never be like the nine cured lepers who failed to return and give thanks. “When I consider the glory that You, my God, have prepared for those who persevere in doing Your will, and how much trial and pain it cost Your Son, and badly we have merited this, then my soul is greatly afflicted when I see how much it is necessary that we should not be ungrateful for the greatness of the love that You constantly taught us to love You with.”

Dom Lorenzo Scupoli: The Spiritual Combat was a favorite spiritual treatise of St. Francis de Sales. Scupoli urges the soul to depend on God rather than self, especially at the hour of death when Satan makes his last ditch effort to deceive. “One of the requisites in…spiritual combat is perseverance in the continual mortification of our unruly passions; for never in this life are they utterly subdued, but take root in the human heart like weeds in fertile soil. This is a battle from which we cannot escape; ours is a foe we cannot evade. The fight against passion will last a lifetime, and he who lays down his arms will be slain….But be not daunted by [the enemy’s] strength or number, for in this war, he alone is conquered who voluntarily surrenders, and the entire power of our enemies is in the hands of that captain under whose banner we fight. And not only will He preserve us from treachery, but He will be our champion. He who is infinitely superior to all the foe will crown you with conquest provided that you, as a warrior, rely not on your own finite powers, but on His almighty power and infinite goodness….Never desert your commanding who, for your sake, did not shrink from death itself, and in dying on Calvary’s hill conquered the entire world.”

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