A Year with the Saints – 14 January


Our greatest fault is that we wish to serve God in our way, not in His way – according to our will, not according to His will. When He wishes us to be sick, we wish to be well; when He desires us to serve Him by sufferings, we desire to serve Him by works; when He wishes us to exercise charity, we wish to exercise humility; when He seeks from us resignation, we wish for devotion, a spirit of prayer, or some other virtue. And this is not because the things we desire may be more pleasing to Him, but because they are more to our taste. This is certainly the greatest obstacle we can raise to our own perfection, for it is beyond doubt that if we wish to be Saints according to our own will, we shall never be so at all. To be truly a Saint, it is necessary to be one according to the will of God. Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi knew this most important truth; and, with the guidance of so clear a light, she knew how to submit her will to that of God so perfectly that she was always contented with what came to her day by day, nor did she ever desire anything extraordinary. She was even accustomed to say that she would consider it a marked defect to ask of the Lord any grace for herself or others, with any greater importunity than simple prayers, and that it was her joy and glory to do His will, not that He should do hers. Even as to the sanctity and perfection of her own soul, she wished that it might be not according to her own desire, but to the will of God. And so, we find among her writings this resolution: To offer myself to God, and to seek all that perfection and only that perfection which He is pleased that I should have, and in the time and way that He shall wish, and not otherwise. In conversation with an intimate friend, she once said: The good which does not come to me by this way of the Divine Will, does not seem to me good. I would prefer having no gift at all except that of leaving my will and all my desires in God, to having any gift through desire and will. Yes, yes, Thy will, not mine, be done. The grace which she asked most frequently and most earnestly of the Lord was this: that He would make her remain till death entirely subject and submissive to His Divine Will and pleasure; thus it is no wonder that she became so holy.

Even among the heathens, there are to be found those who by the light of reason alone clearly understood this truth. Plutarch disapproved of the common prayer of the people: May God give you all that good which you desire. No, he says, we ought rather to say, May God grant that you shall desire what He desires. And what is more, Epictetus practiced it; for he said: “I am always content with whatever happens, it all happens by the disposal of God, and I am certain that what God wills is better than what I can ever will.”

MLA Citation