Advantages of Conformity to God’s Will.
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.
Advantages of Conformity to God’s Will.
St. Basil affirms, that all the sanctity and all the perfection of a Christian life consist in acknowledging that God is the cause of all things and in conforming ourselves thereupon entirely to His Holy Will. But that we may the better comprehend the merit and importance of this conformity, and that we may aspire to it with a fervent desire, and also that we may apply ourselves with more diligence to attain it, we will explain in particular the great helps and advantages annexed to it.
First Advantage: Conformity to the Will of God produces a true resignation, or rather it is itself this perfect and entire resignation which the saints and masters of a spiritual life prize so highly as to esteem it the very foundation and beginning of all the peace and tranquility of our soul. For by this resignation a man places himself in the hands of God, as a piece of clay in the hands of the potter, that is, that Divine Providence may dispose of him at pleasure; not desiring anything for the future in order to himself, nor to live for himself, neither to eat, sleep, or work for himself, but to do all things for God alone, and for his service and glory. A conformity to the Divine Will works the same effect, for thereby a man delivers up his whole self in such manner to this Holy Will, that he cannot seek or covet any other thing, than to see this Holy Will totally accomplished in him, not only in all the actions he does, but also in all accidents whatever which can occur; and this not only in prosperity and consolation, but even in adversity and affliction. This sort of submission is so acceptable to God, that for this very one reason He calls David a man according to His own heart. The reason indeed was, that David had that submission of his own will to the orders of Providence, as that his heart was always disposed to receive all sorts of impressions alike from the hand of God, as a piece of softened wax is disposed to receive any figure that is impressed upon.
Second Advantage; He who has an entire and perfect conformity to the Will of God, will have also a perfect mortification of all his passions, and all evil inclinations whatever. It is sufficiently evident how necessary this mortification is for a Christian, and how much it is recommended and inculcated to us by the holy Scripture and the saints. Yet before we can attain a perfect conformity to the Divine Will, this mortification must be previously acquired since conformity is considered as the end, and mortification but as the means to attain this end, and as all know, the end is always more perfect and noble than the means. That this mortification is a necessary means to acquire a real conformity to the Will of God, nothing can be more evident. For it is most certain that our own will and our own irregular appetite are the chief things which oppose this conformity; and consequently the more we renounce ourselves, and the more we mortify and keep in subjection this will and appetite of ours, the more we unite and conform ourselves to the Divine Will. To join a piece of rough and unshaped timber to another piece which is smooth and shapely, we must first plane it and bring it into the same figure, without which it is impossible ever to join them together. We may see by this what effects mortification produces in us. It destroys and cuts off all that which may in any way hinder us from this union with God; to the end we may join ourselves to Him by a more strict tie, in conforming ourselves to the Divine Will. And the more we mortify ourselves, the more strictly we unite ourselves to God, and when we shall have gained an absolute victory over our passions in all things, then shall we attain a perfect union with Him.
Third Advantage; This resignation and entire conformity to the Divine Will, is the most grateful and most acceptable sacrifice that a man can possibly offer to God out of his own stock and treasure. For in other sacrifices, and other mortifications, he only mortifies himself in some particular thing; for example, in temperance, in humility, in modesty, and in patience, he offers but a part of himself to God; but in this, he offers himself, an entire holocaust, that the Divine Majesty may determine and dispose of him in what way It shall please, without the least exception or the least reserve.
So that as much as the man himself is superior to his property the whole to a part; by so much is this sacrifice superior to whatever is found in other sacrifices and mortifications. We may hence, therefore, conclude, that there is nothing whereby we can testify our love to God more than by this conformity; since by this means we give and resign up to Him all things in general we have and all things whatever we are in prospect of enjoying or desiring, and in case we enjoyed more, or if it were in our power, we would offer it up wholly in like manner (Rodriguez, Vol I, Eighth Treatise, Chapter III).
Fourth Advantage; This conformity and this absolute resignation to the Divine Will is one of the best dispositions we can possibly have on our part to oblige Almighty God to confer upon us His graces and favours, and enrich us with His blessing. So when He wished that St. Paul, from a persecutor of Christians, should become a preacher of His Gospel, and an Apostle of the Gentiles, He prepared him by the like disposition. He struck him on a sudden with a vivid light, which dazzling his eyes, and casting him off his horse upon the ground opened at the same time the eyes of his soul, and made him cry out; “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts ix, 6). Behold me as a piece of clay in your hands, ready to receive whatsoever impression you shall give me. It was this means that gained such merit for him that he was chosen by our Lord and made “a vessel of election, to carry My name before the Gentiles, and Kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts ix, 15). It is related of St. Gertrude, that our Lord appearing to her, told her that those who desired that He should freely reside and live in their hearts, ought first to put into His hands the key of their own will and have no intention of asking it back.
It is according to this holy sentiment that St. Ignatius sets down an absolute resignation as a chief disposition to receive all sorts of graces from God; and expressly orders that we should begin our spiritual exercises after this manner. For the foundation he establishes for their due performance, is to have so great an indifference for things of this world, and to be so entirely resigned, that not desiring one thing or another, we limit all our inclinations to the accomplishing God’s holy will in us. He says also, in the rules he prescribes for those who give the spiritual exercises, and in the rules for those who perform them, that it conduces extremely to the help of the latter, to place themselves in the hands of Divine Providence, to dispose of them, and what belongs to them, as It shall please and judge expedient. The reason, moreover, why this resignation draws down upon us so many graces and favours from God is, that on the one hand it destroys in us whatsoever may put an obstacle to grace, and on the other, the more trust and confidence we place in God by committing ourselves wholly to His pleasure and refraining from willing any other thing but what He wills, the more we oblige Him to take us under His protection, and to confer upon us new helps and benefits.
This conformity to the will of God is always a very efficacious means for attaining all other virtues; because the things appertaining to grace, following for the most part those which are of nature, the habit of virtue, as all other habits, cannot be acquired but by frequent and assiduous practice. And whilst you exercise yourself in this total conformity to the Divine Will, you exercise yourself at the same time in all other virtues; because occasions frequently occur of practising sometimes humility, sometimes obedience, at other times poverty, patience, and so of the rest. So that the more you practise this resignation, and the more perfect you have acquired it, the greater also will be your increase of all other virtues. The masters of the spiritual life advise us to cast our eyes upon some eminent virtue which includes in it all the rest; constantly to meditate upon it in all our prayers and meditations, and to direct all our spiritual duties to the acquisition of it. This counsel is doubtless the most profitable, and the most advantageous that can be given; inasmuch as by applying our whole endeavours to attaining this one thing, we shall gain our end with more facility. But amongst all those we can choose for this purpose, one of the chief is an entire resignation and conformity to the will of God. So that whatever time we spend in obtaining this, though we devote all our life, all our examinations of conscience; and all our prayers to it, we would do well; since the obtaining of this one virtue alone would put us in possession of all the rest.
St. Bernard, explaining these words of the Apostle; “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” cries out, “O short prayer, but full of sense, efficacious, and worthy of all esteem and recompense!” If you desire an easy and compendious way of attaining perfection, here you have it. Say daily with the Apostle, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” and with the Psalmist; “My heart is disposed, O God, my heart is disposed to whatsoever you please to ordain.” Have always these words in your mouth, have them in your heart; and according as you strengthen yourself in these holy sentiments, so will you increase in the perfection you aim at (Rodriguez, Vol I, Eighth Treatise, Chapter VII).
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.
The cowardly, for not wishing to fight against themselves, will never enjoy, or only late, true peace of soul and the possession of any perfection; the brave and the earnest possess both in a short time. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letters.
March Devotion: St. Joseph
Virtue to practice: Mortification
Litany of St. Joseph
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious Son of David, pray for us.
Splendour of patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Watchful Defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most pure, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most couragious, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of all who labor, pray for us.
Glory of family life, pray for us.
Preserver of virgins, pray for us.
Mainstay of families, pray for us.
Solace of the afflicted, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. He hath made him master of His house,
R. And ruler of all His possessions.
Let us Pray.
O God, Who in Thine ineffable providence didst vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most Holy Mother; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph
(This prayer was said to be founded in the 50 A.D. In the 1500′s it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. According to oral tradition, whoever reads this prayer, hears it, or carries it, will not fall into the hands of the enemy, nor be burned in any fire, nor will they be defeated in battle.)
O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by thy powerful intercession and obtain for me from thy Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below thy heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. O St. Joseph I never weary contemplating thee and Jesus asleep in thy arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near thy heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph by Pope St. Pius X
O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.
To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and, implored the help of thy thrice-holy Spouse, we confidently invoke thy patronage also. By that charity wherewith thou was united to the immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly affection with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, that thou wouldst look graciously upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ hath purchased by His Blood, and assist us in our needs by thy power and strength. Most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us most lovely father, all blight of error and corruption: mercifully assist us from heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and, even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that we may be supported by thine example and thine assistance, may be enabled to lead a holy life, die a happy death and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in heaven. Amen.
An indulgence of 3 years. An indulgence of 7 years during the month of October, when said after the recitation of the Rosary and on any Wednesday throughout the year. A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions, If this prayer is devoutly said daily (Leo XIII, Encyclical Aug. 15, 1889; S.C. Ind., Sept. 21, 1889; S.P.Ap., May 17, 1927; Dec. 13, 1935; and March 10, 1941).
Good St. Joseph protect us, protect the holy Church.
O good and kind St. Joseph guide us in the way of perfection.
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