ON THE SIN OF ANGER – St. Alphonsus

“Whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment.” MATT. v. 2.

ANGER resembles fire; hence, as fire is vehement in its action, and, by the smoke which it produces, obstructs the view, so anger makes men rush into a thousand excesses, and prevents them from seeing the sinfulness of their conduct, and thus exposes them to the danger of the judgment of eternal death. “Whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment.”

Anger is so pernicious to man that it even disfigures his countenance. No matter how comely and gentle he may be, he shall, as often as he yields to the passion of anger, appear to be a monster and a wild beast full of terror. ”Iracundus,” says St. Basil, ”humanam quasi liguram amittit, ferae specimen indutus.” (Hom, xxi.)

But, if anger disfigures us before men, how much more deformed will it render us in the eyes of God! In this discourse I will show, in the first point, the destruction which anger unrestrained brings on the soul; and, in the second, how we ought to restrain anger in all occasions of provocation which may occur to us.

First Point

The ruin which anger unrestrained brings on the soul.

1. St. Jerome says that anger is the door by which all vices enter the soul. ”Omnium vitiorum jantia est iracundia.” (Inc. xxix. Prov.) Anger precipitates men into resentments, blasphemies, acts of injustice, detractions, scandals, and other iniquities; for the passion of anger darkens the understanding, and makes a man act like a beast and a madman. ”Caligavit ab indignatione oculus meus.” (Job xvii. 7.) My eye has lost its sight through indignation. David said: ”My eye is troubled with wrath.” (Ps. xxx. 10.)

Hence, according to St. Bonaventure, an angry man is incapable of distinguishing between what is just and unjust. ”Iratus non potest videre quod justum est vel injustum.” In a word, St. Jerome says that anger deprives a man of prudence, reason, and understanding. ”Ab omni concilio deturpat, ut donee irascitur, insanire credatur.” Hence St. James says: ”The anger of man worketh not the justice of God.” (St. James i. 20.) The acts of a man under the influence of anger cannot be conformable to the divine justice, and consequently cannot be faultless.

2. A man who does not restrain the impulse of anger, easily falls into hatred towards the person who has been the occasion of his passion. According to St. Augustine, hatred is nothing else than persevering anger. “Odium est ira diuturno tempore perseverans.” Hence St. Thomas says that”anger is sudden, but hatred is lasting. ” (Opusc. v.)

It appears, then, that in him in whom anger perseveres hatred also reigns. But some will say: I am the head of the house; I must correct my children and servants, and, when necessary, I must raise my voice against the disorders which I witness. I say in answer: It is one thing to be angry against a brother, and another to be displeased at the sin of a brother.

To be angry against sin is not anger, but zeal; and therefore it is not only lawful, but is sometimes a duty. But our anger must be accompanied with prudence, and must appear to be directed against sin, but not against the sinner; for, if the person whom we correct perceive that we speak through passion and hatred towards him, the correction will be unprofitable and even mischievous.

To be angry, then, against a brother’s sin is certainly lawful. ”He,” says St. Augustine, ”is not angry with a brother who is angry against a brother‟s sin.” It is thus, as David said, we may be angry without sin. ”Be ye angry, and sin not.” (Ps. iv. 5.) But, to be angry against a brother on account of the sin which he has committed is not lawful; because, according to St. Augustine, we are not allowed to hate others for their vices. ”Nee propter vitia (licet) homines odisse” (in Ps. xcviii).

3. Hatred brings with it a desire of revenge; for, according to St. Thomas, anger, when fully voluntary, is accompanied with a desire of revenge. ”Ira est appetitus vindicteo.” But you will perhaps say: If I resent such an injury, God will have pity on me, because I have just grounds of resentment Who, I ask, has told you that you have just grounds for seeking revenge?

It is you, whose understanding is clouded by passions, that say so. I have already said that anger obscures the mind, and takes away our reason and understanding. As long as the passion of auger lasts, you will consider your neighbour’s conduct very unjust and intolerable; but, when your anger shall have passed away, you shall see that his act was not so bad as it appeared to you. But, though the injury be grievous, or even more grievous, God will not have compassion, on you if you seek revenge.

No, he says: vengeance for sins belongs not to you, but to me; and when the time shall come I will chastise them as they deserve. ”Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in due time.” (Deut. xxxii. 35.) If you resent an injury done to you by a neighbour, God will justly inflict vengeance on you for all the injuries you have offered to him, and particularly for taking revenge on a brother whom he commands you to pardon. ”He that seeketh to revenge himself, shall find vengeance from the Lord …. Man to man reserveth anger, and doth he seek remedy of God? …. He that is but flesh nourisheth anger; and doth he ask forgiveness of God? Who shall obtain pardon for his sins ?” (Eccl. xxviii. 1, 3, 5.)

Man, a worm of flesh, reserves anger, and takes revenge on a brother: does he afterwards dare to ask mercy of God? And who, adds the sacred writer, can obtain pardon for the iniquities of so daring a sinner? “Qua ironte,” says St. Augustine, ”indulgentiam peccatorem obtinere poterit, qui præcipienti dare veniam non acquiescit.” How can he who will not obey the command of God to pardon his neighbour, expect to obtain from God the forgiveness of his own sins?

4. Let us implore the Lord to preserve us from yielding to any strong passion, and particularly to anger. “Give me not over to a shameful and foolish mind.” (Eccl. xxiii. 6.) For, he that submits to such a passion is exposed to great danger of falling into a grievous sin against God or his neighbour.

How many, in consequence of not restraining anger, break out into horrible blasphemies against God or his saints! But, at the very time we are in a flame of indignation, God is armed with scourges. The Lord said one day to the Prophet Jeremias: “What seest thou, Jeremias? And I said: I see a rod watching. ” (Jer. i. 11.) Lord, I behold a rod watching to inflict punishment. ”The Lord asked him again: “What seest thou? And I said: I see a boiling caldron.” (Ibid., v. 13.). The boiling chaldron is the figure of a man inflamed with wrath, and threatened with a rod, that is, with the vengeance of God. Behold, then, the ruin which anger unrestrained brings on man.

It deprives him, first, of the grace of God, and afterwards of corporal life. ”Envy and anger shortens a man‟s days.” (Eccl. xxx. 26.) Job says: ”Anger indeed killeth the foolish.” (Job v. 2.) All the days of their life, persons addicted to anger are unhappy, because they are always in a tempest. But let us pass to the second point, in which I have to say many things which will assist you to overcome this vice.

Second Point.

How we ought to restrain anger in the occasions of provocation which occur to us.

5. In the first place it is necessary to know that it is not possible for human weakness, in the midst of so many occasions, to be altogether free from every motion of anger. “No one, ” as Seneca says, “can be entirely exempt from this passion. ” “Iracundia nullum genus hominum excipit” (I. 3, c. xii). All our efforts must be directed to the moderation of the feelings of anger which spring up in the soul. How are they to be moderated?

By meekness. This is called the virtue of the lamb that is, the beloved virtue of Jesus Christ. Because, like a lamb, without anger or even complaint, he bore the sorrows of his passion and crucifixion. ”He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.” (Isa. liii. 7.) Hence he has taught us to learn of him meekness and humility of heart. ”Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matt. xi. 29)

6. Oh! how pleasing in the sight of God are the meek, who submit in peace to all crosses, misfortunes, persecutions, and injuries! To the meek is promised the kingdom of heaven. ”Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.” (Matt. v. 4.)

They are called the children of God. ”Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. ” (Ibid., v. 9.) Some boast of their meekness, but without any grounds; for they are meek only towards those who praise and confer favours upon them: but to those who injure or censure them they are all fury and vengeance. The virtue of meekness consists in being meek and peaceful towards those who hate and maltreat us. “With them, that hated peace I was peaceful.” (Ps. cxix. 7.)

7. We must, as St. Paul says, put on the bowels of mercy towards all men, and bear one with another. “Put on ye the bowels of mercy, humility, modesty, patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another.” (Col iii. 12, 13.) You wish others to bear with your defects, and to pardon your faults; you should act in the same manner towards them. Whenever, then, you receive an insult from a person enraged against you , remember that a “mild answer breaketh wrath,” (Prov. xv. 1.)

A certain monk once passed through a cornfield: the owner of the field ran out, and spoke to him in very offensive and injurious language. The monk humbly replied: Brother, you are right; I have done wrong; pardon me. By this answer the husbandman was so much appeased that he instantly became calm, and even wished to follow the monk, and to enter into religion. The proud make use of the humiliations they receive to increase their pride; but the humble and the meek turn the contempt and insults offered to them into an occasion of advancing in humility. “He,” says St. Bernard, ”is humble who converts humiliation into humility.” (Ser. xxiv. in Can.)

8. “A man of meekness,” says St. Chrysostom, “is useful to himself and to others.” The meek are useful to themselves, because, according to F. Alvares, the time of humiliation and contempt is for them the time of merit. Hence, Jesus Christ calls his disciples happy when they shall be reviled and persecuted. “Blessed are ye when they shall revile you and persecute you.” (Matt. v. 11.)

Hence, the saints have always desired to be despised as Jesus Page 145 of 233 Christ has been despised. The meek are useful to others; because, as the same St. Chrysostom says, there is nothing better calculated to draw others to God, than to see a Christian meek and cheerful when he receives an injury or an, insult. ”Nihil ita conciliat Domino familiares ut quod ilium vident mansuetudine jucundum.” The reason is, because virtue is known by being tried; and, as gold is tried by fire, so the meekness of men is proved by humiliation. “Gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. ” (Eccl. ii. 5.)”My spikenard, ”says the spouse in the Canticles, “sent forth the odour thereof” (i. 11.)

The spikenard is an odoriferous plant, but diffuses its odours only when, it is torn and bruised. In this passage the inspired writer gives us to understand, that a man cannot be said to be meek unless he is known to send forth the odour of his meekness by bearing injuries and insults in peace and without anger.

God wishes us to be meek even towards ourselves. When a person commits a fault, God certainly wishes him to humble himself, to be sorry for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself, and give way to trouble and agitation of mind; for, while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing good. ”My heart is troubled; my strength hath left me.” (Ps. xxx vii. 11.)

9. Thus, when we receive an insult, we must do violence to ourselves in order to restrain anger. Let us either answer with meekness, as recommended above, or let us remain silent; and thus, as St. Isidore says, we shall conquer. “Quamvis quis irritet, tu dissimula, quia tacendo vinces.” But, if you answer through passion, you shall do harm to yourselves and others. It would be still worse to give an angry answer to a person who corrects you. ”Medicanti irascitur,” says St. Bernard, ”qui non irascitur sagittanti.” (Ser. vi. de Nativ.) Some are not angry, though they ought to be indignant with those who wound their souls by flattery; and are filled with indignation against the person who censures them in order to heal their irregularities.

Against the man who abhors correction, the sentence of perdition has, according to the Wise Man, been pronounced. “Because they have despised all my reproofs,. . . .the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” (Prov. i. 30, etc.) Fools regard as prosperity to be free from correction, or to despise the admonitions which they receive; but such prosperity is the cause of their ruin. When you meet with an occasion of anger, you must, in the first place, be on your guard not to allow anger to enter your heart. “Be not quickly angry” (Eccles. vii. 10.)

Some persons change colour, and get into a passion, at every contradiction: and when anger has got admission, God knows to what it shall lead them. Hence, it is necessary to foresee these occasions in our meditations and prayers; for, unless we are prepared for them, it will be as difficult to restrain anger as to put a bridle on a horse while running away.

10. Whenever we have the misfortune to permit anger to enter the soul, let us be careful not to allow it to remain. Jesus Christ tells all who remember that a brother is offended with them, not to offer the gift which they bring to the altar without being first reconciled to their neighbour. ”Go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.” (Matt. v. 24.) And he who has received any offence, should endeavour to root out of his heart not only all anger, but also every feeling of bitterness towards the persons who have offended him.

“Let all bitterness,” says St. Paul, “and anger and indignation be put away from you.” (Eph. iv. 31.) As long as anger continues, follow the advice of Seneca”When you shall be angry do nothing, say nothing, which may be dictated by anger.” Like David, be silent, and do not speak, when you feel that you are disturbed. ”I was troubled, and I spoke Page 146 of 233 not.” (Ps. Ixxvi. 5.) How many when inflamed with anger, say and do what they afterwards, in their cooler moments, regret, and excuse themselves by saying that they were in a passion?

As long, then, as anger lasts we must be silent, and abstain from doing or resolving to do anything; for, what is done in the heat of passion will, according to the maxim of St. James, be unjust. ”The anger of man worketh not the justice of God.” (i. 20.) It is also necessary to abstain altogether from consulting those who might foment our indignation. “Blessed,” says David, “is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly.” (Ps. i. 1.) To him who is asked for advice, Ecclesiasticus says. “If thou blow the spark, it shall burn as a fire; and if thou spit upon it, it shall be quenched.” (Eccl. xxviii. 14.)

When a person is indignant at some injury which he has received, you may, by exhorting him to patience, extinguish the fire; but, if you encourage revenge, you may kindle a great flame. Let him, then, who feels himself in any way inflamed with anger, be on his guard against false friends, who, by an imprudent word, may be the cause of his perdition.

11. Let us follow the advice of the apostle: ”Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.” (Hom, xii. 21.) “Be not overcome by evil:” do not allow yourself to be conquered by sin. If, through anger, you seek revenge or utter blasphemies, you are overcome by sin. But you will say: “I am naturally of a warm temper.”

By the grace of God, and by doing violence to yourself, you will be able to conquer your natural disposition. Do not consent to anger, and you shall subdue the warmth of your temper. But you say: ”I cannot bear with unjust treatment.” In answer I tell you, first, to remember that anger obscures reason, and prevents us from seeing things as they are. “Fire hath fallen on them, and they shall not see the sun.” (Ps. lvii. 9.) Secondly, if you return evil for evil, your enemy shall gain a victory over you. ”If,” said David, ”I have rendered to them that repaid me evils, let me deservedly fall empty before my enemies.” (Ps. vii. 5.)

If I render evil for evil, I shall be defeated by my enemies. ”Overcome evil by good. ”Render every foe good for evil. ”Do good,” says Jesus Christ, “to them that hate you.” (Matt. v. 44.) This is the revenge of the saints, and is called by St. Paulinus, Heavenly revenge. It is by such revenge that you shall gain the victory. And should any of those, of whom the Prophet says, ”The venom, of asps is under their lips” (Ps. cxxxix. 4), ask how you can submit to such an injury, let your answer be: “The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John xviii. 11.)

And then turning to God you shall say: ”I opened not my mouth, because thou hast done it” (Ps. xxxviii. 10), for it is certain that every cross which befalls you comes from the Lord. “Good things and evil are from God.” (Eccl xi. 14.) Should any one take away your property, recover it if you can; but if you cannot, say with Job: ”The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away” (i. 21.) A certain philosopher, who lost some of his goods in a storm, said: ”If 1 have lost my goods I will not lose my peace.” And, do you say: If I have lost my property, I will not lose my soul.

12. In fine, when we meet with crosses, persecutions, and injuries, let us turn to God, who commands us to bear them with patience; and thus we shall always avoid anger. “Remember the fear of God, and be not angry with thy neighbour.” (Eccl. xxviii. 8.) Let us give a look at the will of God, which disposes things in this manner for our merit, and anger shall cease.

Let us give a look at Jesus crucified, and we shall not have courage to complain. St. Eleazar being asked by his spouse how he bore so many injuries without yielding to anger, answered: I turn to Jesus Christ, and thus I preserve my peace. Finally, let us give a glance at our sins, for which we have deserved far greater contempt and chastisement, and we shall calmly submit to all evils.

St. Augustine says, that though we are sometimes innocent of the crime for which we are persecuted, we are, nevertheless, guilty of other sins which merit greater punishment than that which we endure. “Esto non habemus peccatum, quod objicitur: habemus tamen, quod digne in nobis flagelletur.” (in Ps. Ixviii.)

Conformity To The Will Of God – Pentecost Sunday – St. Alphonsus Liguori

“As the Father hath given me commandment, so do I.” JOHN xiv. 31.

JESUS CHRIST was given to us, by God, as a Savior 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 an other 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.” (Horn. 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 fulfill 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 your 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 fulfill 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 practice 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 practices 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 Suso 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 accept able to God, we ought, in our prayers, to ask of him the grace, not that we may do what he will, but that we may do all that he wishes us to do. Everyone 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 practice 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, defamation, 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.

8. “Good things and evil… are from God.” (Eccl. xi. 14.) All blessings such as riches and honors 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 splendor 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 practiced. 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 continue 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 but 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, pau- peres 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 em bracing 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 ecstasy.

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 !”