Pentecost Sunday Sermon by St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori
On conformity to the will of God. – continued.
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.
8. “Good things and evil… are from God.” (Eccl. xi. 14.) All blessings such as riches and honours and all misfortunes such as sickness and persecutions come from God. But mark that the Scripture calls them evils, only because we, through the want of conformity to the will of God, regard them as evils and misfortunes. But, in reality, if we accepted them from the hands of God with Christian resignation, they should be blessings and not evils. The jewels which give the greatest splendour to the crown of the saints in heaven, are the tribulations which they bore with patience, as coming from the hands of the Lord. On hearing that the Sabeans had taken away all his oxen and asses, holy Job said: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.” (Job i. 21.) He did not say that the Lord gave, and that the Sabeans had taken away; but that the Lord gave, and that the Lord had taken away: and therefore He blessed the Lord, believing that all had happened through the divine will.” As it has pleased the Lord, so it is done: blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Ibid.) Being tormented with iron hooks and burning torches, the holy martyrs Epictetus and Atone said: “Lord, Thy will be done in us.” And their last words were: “Be blessed, eternal God, for having given us the grace to accomplish Thy will.”
9. “Whatsoever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad.” (Prov. xii. 21.) A soul that loves God is not disturbed by any misfortune that may happen to her. Cesarius relates (lib. x., c. vi.), that a certain monk who did not perform greater austerities than His companions, wrought many miracles. Being astonished at this, the abbot asked him one day what were the works of piety which he practised. He answered, that he was more imperfect than the other monks; but that his sole concern was to conform himself to the divine will. Were you displeased, said the abbot, with the person who injured us so grievously a few days ago? No, father, replied the monk; I, on the contrary, thanked God for it; because I know that He does or permits all things for our good. From this answer the abbot perceived the sanctity of the good religious. We should act in a similar manner under all the crosses that come upon us. Let us always say: “Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight.” (Matt. xi. 26.) Lord, this is pleasing to Thee, let it be done.
10. He that acts in this manner enjoys that peace which the angels announced at the birth of Jesus Christ to men of good will–that is, to those whose wills are united to the will of God. These, as the Apostle says, enjoy that peace which exceeds all sensual delights. “The peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding.” (Phil. iv. 7.) A great and solid peace, which is not liable to change. “A holy man continueth in wisdom like the sun; but a fool is changing like the moon.” (Eccl. xxvii 12.) Fools –that is, sinners–are changed like the moon, which increases to-day, and grows less on to-morrow; to-day they are seen to laugh through folly, and to-morrow, to weep through despair; to-day they are humble and meek, to-morrow, proud and furious. In a word, sinners change with prosperity and adversity; hut the just are like the sun, always the same, always serene in whatever happens to them. In the inferior part of the soul they cannot but feel some pain at the misfortunes which befall them; but, as long as the will remains united to the will of God, nothing can deprive them of that spiritual joy which is not subject to the vicissitudes of this life. “Your joy no man shall take from you.” (John xvi. 22.)
11. He that reposes in the divine will, is like a man placed above the clouds: He sees the lightning, and hears the claps of thunder, and the raging of the tempest below, but He is not injured or disturbed by them. And how can he be ever disturbed, when whatever he desires always happens? He that desires only what pleases God, always obtains whatsoever he wishes, because all that happens to him, happens through the will of God. Salvian says, that Christians who are resigned, if they be in a low condition of life, wish to be in that state; if they be poor, they desire poverty; because they wish whatever God wills, and therefore they are always content. “Humiles sunt, hoc volunt, pauperes sunt, paupertate delectantur: itaque beati dicendi sunt.” If cold, or heat, or rain, or wind come on, He that is united to the will of God says: I wish for this cold, this heat, this rain, and this wind, because God wills them. If loss of property, persecution, sickness, or even death come upon him, He says: I wish for this loss, this persecution, this sickness; I even wish for death, when it comes, because God wills it. And how can a person who seeks to please God, enjoy greater happiness than that which arises from cheerfully embracing the cross which God sends him, and from the conviction that, in embracing it, he pleases God in the highest degree? So great was the joy which St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel at the bare mention of the will of God, that she would fall into an ecstacy.
12. But, how great is the folly of those who resist the divine will, and, instead of receiving tribulations with patience, get into a rage, and accuse God of treating them with injustice and cruelty! Perhaps they expect that, in consequence of their opposition, what God wills shall not happen? “Who resisteth His will?” (Rom. ix. 19.) Miserable men! instead of lightening the cross which God sends them, they make it more heavy and painful. “Who hath resisted Him, and hath peace?” (Job ix. 4.) Let us be resigned to the divine will, and we shall thus render our crosses light, and shall gain great treasures of merits for eternal life. In sending us tribulations, God intends to make us saints. “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” (1 Thess. iv. 3.) He sends us crosses, not because He wishes evil to us, but because He desires our welfare, and because He knows that they are conducive to our salvation. “All things work together unto good.” (Rom. viii. 28.) Even the chastisements which come from the Lord are not for our destruction, but for our good and for the correction of our faults. “Let us believe that these scourges of the Lord….have happened for our amendment, and not for our destruction.” (Jud. viii. 27.) God loves us so tenderly, that He not only desires, but is solicitous about our welfare. “The Lord,” says David, “is careful for me.” (Ps. xxxix. 18.)
13. Let us, then, always throw ourselves into the hands of God, who so ardently desires and so anxiously watches over our eternal salvation. “Casting all your care upon Him; for He hath care of you.” (1 Peter v. 7.) He who, during life, casts himself into the hands of God, shall lead a happy life and shall die a holy death. He who dies resigned to the divine will, dies a saint; but they who shall not have been united to the divine will during life, shall not conform to it at death, and shall not be saved. The accomplishment of the divine will should be the sole object of all our thoughts during the remainder of our days. To this end we should direct all our devotions, our meditations, communions, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and all our prayers. We should constantly beg of God to teach and help us to do His will. “Teach me to do Thy will.” (Ps. cxlii. 10.) Let us, at the same time, offer ourselves to accept without reserve whatever He ordains, saying, with the Apostle: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts ix. 6.) Lord, tell me what Thou dost wish me to do I desire to do Thy will. And in all things, whether they be pleasing or painful, let us always have in our mouths that petition of the Pater Noster–“Thy will be done” Let us frequently repeat it in the day, with all the affection of our hearts. Happy we, if we live and die saying: “Thy will be done! Thy will be done!”
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 Inordinate Affections.
I. Whensoever a man desires anything inordinately, he is presently disquieted within himself.
The proud and covetous are never easy.
The poor and humble of spirit live in much peace.
The man that is not yet perfectly dead to himself, is soon tempted and overcome with small and trifling things.
He that is weak in spirit, and in a manner yet carnal and inclined to sensible things, can hardly withdraw himself wholly from earthly desires.
And therefore he is often sad when he withdraws himself from them, and is easily moved to anger if any one thwarts him.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch VI pt I.
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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