-St. Francis de Sales:
All things contribute to good for those who love God
And, as a matter of fact, since God can and does know how to draw good from evil, for whom should He do it, if not for those who, without reserve, have given themselves to Him?
Yes, even sins, from which God by His goodness defends us, are reduced by Divine Providence to good for those who belong to Him. Never would David have been so full of humility had he not sinned, nor would Mary Magdalene have been so full of love for her Lord if He had not remitted so many of her sins. And never could He have forgiven her these sins if she had not committed them.
You see, my daughter, this great architect of mercy: He converts our miseries into grace and makes salutary medicine for our souls from the venom of our iniquities. Tell me, please, what could He not do with our afflictions, our sufferings and the persecutions that we endure?
If, then, you are ever touched by some unpleasantness, from wherever it may come, assure your soul that, if it loves God, everything will be converted to good. And although you may not see the means by which this good will happen to you, be assured that it will happen.
If God allows your eyes to be blinded by the mud of ignominy, it is to give you a clear vision as a way of honoring you. If God makes you fall, as He did with Saint Paul, whom He threw to the ground, it is to raise you up to His glory.
One Should Absolutely Desire God Alone, the Rest in Moderation
One should only want God absolutely, invariably and inviolably; but, regarding the means of serving Him, one should only desire them slowly and gently, so that if we are prevented from using them, we would not be greatly upset.
Trust in Providence
The measure of Divine Providence in us depends on the degree of trust that we have in it. Do not anticipate the unpleasant events of this life by apprehension; rather anticipate them with the perfect hope that, as they happen, God, to Whom you belong, will protect you.
He has protected you up to the present moment; just remain firmly in the hands of His providence and He will help you in all situations and at those times when you find yourself unable to walk, He will carry you.
What should you fear, since you belong to God Who has so strongly assured us that for those who love Him all things turn into happiness.
Do not think of what may happen tomorrow, because the same eternal Father Who takes care of you today, will take care of you tomorrow and forever. Either He will see that nothing bad happens to you or, if He allows anything bad to happen to you, He will give you the invincible courage to bear it.
Remain at peace, my daughter. Remove from your imagination whatever may upset you and say frequently to our Lord, “0 God, You are my God and I will trust in You; You will help me and You will be my refuge and there is nothing I will fear, because not only are You with me, but, also, You are in me and I in You.”
What does a child in the arms of such a Father have to fear? Be as a little child, my dearest daughter. As you know, children don’t concern themselves with many matters; they have others who think for them. They are strong enough if they remain with their father. Therefore, act accordingly, my daughter, and you will be at peace.
One Should Avoid Haste
You should treat your affairs with care, but never with hurry or worry. Don’t rush to your tasks, because any haste upsets your reason and judgment and even prevents you from doing well the very thing that you are hurrying to do….
When our Lord reprimanded Saint Martha, He said to her: ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset over many things. “You see, if she had simply been caring, she would hardly have been troubled; but because she was worried and anxious, she becomes hurried and upset. And this is why our Lord reprimanded her….
Never is a task accomplished with impetuosity and haste done well…. Therefore, accept with peace all the tasks that come to you and try to accomplish them in order, one after the other.
Peace When Confronted by Our Faults
We must hate our shortcomings, but with a hate that is tranquil and peaceful, not with a hate that is fretful and troubled; and, yes, we must have the patience to see our shortcomings and to profit from a saintly abasement of ourselves.
Failing that, my daughter, your imperfections, which you see very acutely, will trouble you even more keenly, and, by this means maintain themselves, as there is nothing which sustains our defects more than a sense of anxiety and haste to eliminate them.
Gentleness and Peace in One’s Zeal Towards Others
0 my daughter, God has granted you a great mercy to have recalled your heart to the gracious support of others and to have poured the holy balm of sweetness of heart toward your fellow man into the wine of your zeal.
That’s all that you needed, my dearest daughter; your zeal was altogether good, but it had the defect of being a little harsh, a bit too urgent, a bit anxious and irritable. Now, it has been purified of these things; from now on it will be gentle, kind, gracious, peaceful and enduring. (Letter to a Mistress of Novices)
And Finally: Accepting, Without Becoming Troubled, Not Always Being Able to Maintain One’s Peace
Strive, my daughter, to maintain your heart at peace by being even-tempered. I don’t say maintain your heart at peace, but I say strive to do so. This should be your main concern. And beware of occasions for troubling yourself, because you cannot moderate so suddenly the ups and downs of your feelings.
These passages were translated directly from the French Oeuvres Completes, published by the Visitation d’Annecy. An English language version can be found in the book Serenity of Heart: Bearing the Troubles of This Life, Sophia Institute Press, 1997.
“We must live in the present moment. This is the only moment within our hands, the only one that can make us happy. The past exists no more; let us leave it to the Divine Mercy. And, though it does not yet exist, let us entrust the future to God’s loving Providence and live happily in the present.” -Fr. Narciso Irala, S.J., Achieving Peace of Heart http://amzn.to/2soEBXz (afflink)
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