A Year with the Saints – 14 December


There are many who say to the Lord, “I give myself wholly to Thee, without any reserve,” but there are few who embrace the practice of this abandonment, which consists in receiving with a certain indifference every sort of event, as it happens in conformity with Divine Providence, as well afflictions as consolations, contempt and reproaches as honor and glory. Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Vincent de Paul was a brilliant example of this. In all places, times, occupations, and circumstances, in tribulation and consolation, in illness, in cold and heat, in encountering reproaches, calumnies, the loss of friends or property, he was never troubled or disturbed; but, as if all these events had been similar, he remained in great peace and tranquillity of soul, which he manifested by the sweetness of his words and the serenity of his countenance; for he never lost sight of his maxim that nothing happens to this world except as ordained by Divine Providence, into whose hands he had entirely abandoned himself. This once made a priest say in astonishment, “M. Vincent is always M. Vincent!”

Particular examples may be of use to illustrate this. When he received news that parties were endeavoring to bring lawsuits and disturb his missionaries in their possessions and in houses and lands which they had acquired, his usual reply was that nothing would succeed except what God pleased, and that as He was master of all their goods, it was just that He should dispose of them according to His Divine Will. When one of the most important and useful members of his Congregation was seriously ill, he wrote thus to a person who was much grieved at the misfortune: “It seems as if Our Lord wished to take His portion of our little company. It is, I hope, entirely His, and so He has a right to make use of it as He sees best. For myself, the chief desire that I have is to wish nothing except the fulfillment of His Divine Will.”

In fact, though the preservation of his Congregation was so dear to him, he never desired either that or its increase and progress, except insofar as he was sure that God willed it – so that, as he once said, he would not have taken a step or uttered a word to that end, except in entire dependence on the Divine Will. His practice was the same in what regarded himself personally, for he bore his many and great infirmities with much peace and tranquillity of soul. In the last year of his life he perceived clearly, and often said, that he was gradually failing, but always with a perfect indifference, which proved that living and dying, suffering and relief, were the same to him. He was indifferent as to the food and the remedies given him, and though he would sometimes express the opinion that one thing or another did him harm, still he always took what the physicians ordered him, and seemed as well pleased with bad results as with good. In everything he regarded only the accomplishment of God’s good pleasure as the sole object of his desire and of his joy; nor was there ever observed in him, either in sickness or health, the least token of a feeling opposed to this holy disposition.

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal had attained the same height, for we read of her that she received with equal indifference whatever occurred, whether adverse or prosperous, as she had no desire but that God would do with her and in her regard whatever He might please. For this reason, she never cared to think about what might happen to herself or others in the future; that is, about what she should do in such or such circumstances; as, for example, if she were in extreme want, whether she would go out and beg, or wait for help from Divine Providence; she said that in such a case, she would ask the Lord with fresh confidence what she was to do, leaving herself, meantime, in His hands. She was once asked whether, in the various dangers she had encountered by land and water in her frequent journeys, she had always hoped that God would rescue her from them. She replied that she had hoped not for rescue, but only that the Lord would do what might be for His greater glory, by freeing her from the danger or by leaving her to perish in it, and that in this total dependence on the divine disposal, her heart remained peaceful, tranquil and at rest.

To conclude, a holy and learned man said that a soul perfectly resigned is like a body that forms a perfect square, which stands firmly on whichever side it may be thrown.

MLA Citation