Pentecost Sunday Sermon by St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori
On conformity to the will of God.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
“As the Father hath given me commandment, so do I.”–John xiv. 31.
Jesus Christ was given to us, by God, as a saviour and as a master. Hence He came on earth principally to teach us, not only by His words but also by His own example, how we are to love God–our supreme good: hence, as we read in this day’s Gospel, He said to His disciples: “That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given Me commandment, so do I.” To show the world the love I bear to the Father, I will execute all His commands. In another place He said: “I came down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” (John vi. 38.) Devout souls, if you love God and desire to become saints, you must seek His will, and wish what He wishes. St. Paul tells us, that the divine love is poured into our souls by means of the Holy Ghost. “The charity of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.” (Rom. v. 5.) If, then, we wish for the gift of divine love, we must constantly beseech the Holy Ghost to make us know and do the will of God. Let us continually implore His light to know, and His strength to fulfil the divine will. Many wish to love God, but they, at the same time, wish to follow their own, and not His will. Hence I shall show to-day, in the first point, that our sanctification consists entirely in conformity to the will of God; and in the second, I shall show how, and in what, we should in practice conform ourselves to the divine will.
First Point. Our sanctification consists entirely in conformity to the will of God.
1. It is certain that our salvation consists in loving God. A soul that does not love God is not living, but dead. “He that loveth not, abideth in death.” (1 John iii. 14.) The perfection of love consists in conforming our will to the will of God. “And life in His good will.” (Ps. xxix. 6.) “Have charity, which is the bond of perfection.” (Col. iii. 14.) According to the Areopagite, the principal effect of love is to unite the wills of lovers, so that they may have but one heart and one will. Hence all our works, communions, prayers, penances, and alms, please God in proportion to their conformity to the divine will; and if they be contrary to the will of God, they are no longer acts of virtue, but defects deserving chastisement.
2. Whilst preaching one day, Jesus Christ was told that His mother and brethren were waiting for Him; in answer He said: “Whosoever shall do the will of My Father that is in heaven, He is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. xii. 50.) By these words He gave us to understand that He acknowledged as friends and relatives those only who fulfil the will of His Father.
3. The saints in heaven love God perfectly. In what, I ask, does the perfection of their love consist? It consists in an entire conformity to the divine will. Hence Jesus Christ has taught us to pray for grace to do the will of God on earth, as the saints do it in heaven. “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt. vi. 10.) Hence St. Teresa says, that “they who practise prayer, should seek in all things to conform their will to the will of God.” In this, she adds, consists the highest perfection. He that practises it in the most perfect manner, shall receive from God the greatest gifts, and shall make the greatest progress in interior life. The accomplishment of the divine will has been the sole end of the saints in the practice of all virtues. Blessed Henry Suson used to say: “I would rather be the vilest man on earth with the will of God, than be a seraph with my own will.”
4. A perfect act of conformity is sufficient to make a person a saint. Behold, Jesus Christ appeared to St. Paul while He was persecuting the Church, and converted him. What did the saint do? He did nothing more than offer to God His will, that He might dispose of it as He pleased. “Lord,” He exclaimed, “what wilt thou have me to do? (Acts ix. 6.) And instantly the Lord declared to Ananias, that Saul was a vessel of election, and apostle of the Gentiles. “This man is a vessel of election to carry My name before the Gentiles.” (Acts ix. 15.) He that gives his will to God, gives Him all he has. He that mortifies himself by fasts and penitential austerities, or that gives alms to the poor for God’s sake, gives to God a part of himself and of his goods; but he that gives his will to God, gives Him all, and can say: Lord, having given Thee my will, I have nothing more to give Thee I have given thee all. It is our heart–that is, our will–that God asks of us. “My son, give Me thy heart.” (Prov. xxiii. 26.) Since, then, says the holy Abbot Nilus, our will is so acceptable to God, we ought, in our prayers, to ask of Him the grace, not that we may do what we will, but that we may do all that He wishes us to do. Every one knows this truth, that our sanctification consists in doing the will of God; but there is some difficulty in reducing it to practice. Let us, then, come to the second point, in which I have to say many things of great practical utility.
Second Point. How, and in what, we ought to practise conformity to the will of God.
5. That we may feel a facility of doing on all occasions the divine will, we must beforehand offer ourselves continually to embrace in peace whatever God ordains or wills. Such was the practice of holy David. “My heart,” He used to say, “is ready; God! my heart is ready.” (Ps. cvii. 2.) And He continually besought the Lord to teach him to do His divine will. “Teach me to do Thy will.” (Ps. cxlii. 1 0.) He thus deserved to be called a man according to God’s own heart. “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to My own heart, who shall do all My wills.” (Acts xiii. 2 2.) And why? Because the holy king was always ready to do whatever God wished him to do.
6. St. Teresa offered herself to God fifty times in the day, that He might dispose of her as He pleased, and declared her readiness to embrace either prosperity or adversity. The perfection of our oblation consists in our offering ourselves to God without reserve. All are prepared to unite themselves to the divine will in prosperity; but perfection consists in conforming to it, even in adversity. To thank God in all things that are agreeable to us, is acceptable to him; but to accept with cheerfulness what is repugnant to our inclinations, is still more pleasing to him. Father M. Avila used to say, that “a single blessed be God, in adversity, is better than six thousand thanksgivings in prosperity.”
7. We should conform to the divine will, not only in misfortunes which come directly from God such as sickness, loss of property, privation of friends and relatives but also in crosses which come to us from men, but indirectly from God such as acts of injustice, defamations, calumnies, injuries, and all other sorts of persecutions. But, you may ask, does God will that others commit sin, by injuring us in our property or in our reputation? No; God wills not their sin; but He wishes us to bear with such a loss and with such a humiliation; and He wishes us to conform, on all such occasions, to His divine will.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
Of Reading the Holy Scriptures.
It is not by the Holy Scripture alone that Thou speakest to us, O Lord; Thou instructest us by various persons, and in different manners: grant us therefore the grace to bring to the perusal of books of piety the same dispositions with which we should read the sacred writings. Grant that, being instructed in Thy law and in Thy holy will by the reading of good books, we may endeavour to fulfil them in all things, that so what Thou teachest may be the rule of our conduct. Amen.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch V prayer.
June Devotion: The Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Virtues to practice: Obedience, Piety, Dutifulness
Prayers to the Wound of the Heart of Jesus.
Blessed be the holy Wound of Thy Heart, my most sweet Jesus! Accept, O Lord, my heart and all the powers of my soul. Detach them from earthly affections. Let me lose even the remembrance of the things of this world. Cast my soul into the adorable Wound of Thy Side, into the ocean of Thy love, into the source of true life. Unite my heart for ever to Thy tender Heart, so truly that it will be impossible for me to desire what is not in conformity with Thy will. May I in all things entirely renounce my own will, and unite myself by faith, hope and charity to Thee, my Lord, my God and my Creator. Amen.
O most sweet Jesus, through the Wound of Thy Heart, pardon, I beseech Thee, all my offences against Thee by acting without sufficient purity of intention, or by following my own perverse will. I offer Thee my heart, that Thou mayest unite it to Thy Heart. Then I shall neither seek nor see anything but Thee in all things. I shall have no other will than Thine. Amen.
Jesu! Creator of the world,
Of all mankind Redeemer blest,
True God of God, in Whom we see
Thy Father’s image clear expressed!
Thee, Saviour, love alone constrained
To make our mortal flesh Thine own,
And, as a second Adam, come
For the first Adam to atone.
That selfsame love which made the sky,
Which made the sea and stars, and earth,
Took pity on our misery,
And broke the bondage of our birth.
O Jesus! in Thy Heart divine
May that same love for ever glow!
Forever mercy to mankind
From that exhaustless fountain flow!
For this the Sacred Heart was pierced,
And both with blood and water ran –
To cleanse us from the stains of guilt,
And be the hope and strength of man.
Jesu, to Thee be glory given,
Who from Thy Heart dost grace outpour,
To Father and to Paraclete
Be endless praise for evermore. Amen.
An indulgence of 5 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, If this hymn is devoutly recited every day for a month (S.P.Ap., March 12, 1936). (Raccolta)
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