Those who are enlightened by faith judge things in a very different way from those who have only their senses to guide them and ignore the inestimable treasures they conceal. He who knows the king in disguise treats him very differently than another who, judging by appearances alone, fails to recognize his royalty and treats him as a commoner. In the same way the soul that recognizes the will of God in even the smallest circumstances, even in those that are most distressing and fatal, receives them all with equal joy, pleasure, and respect. It throws open all its doors to receive with honor what others fear and fly from in horror. The outward appearance may be mean and contemptible, but beneath this abject garb, the heart discovers and honors the majesty of the King. The more this majesty abases itself, to visit the soul in this secret and modest way, the more love for Him fills the heart.
I cannot describe what the heart feels when it accepts the divine will in such humble, poor, and mean disguises. Ah! how the sight of God, poor and humble and lodged in a stable lying on straw, weeping and trembling, pierced the loving heart of Mary! Ask the inhabitants of Bethlehem what they thought of the Child. You know what answer they gave, and how they would have paid court to Him if He had been lodged in a palace surrounded by the honor due to princes.
Then ask Mary, Joseph, the Magi and the Shepherds. They will tell you that they found in this extreme poverty an unexplainable something which made God greater and more lovable. Faith is strengthened, increased and enriched by those very things that escape our senses: the less there is to see, the more there is to believe. To adore Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, to love the will of God in extraordinary things, does not show as much faith as loving the will of God in ordinary things and adoring Jesus on the Cross. For faith cannot be said to be real living faith until it is tried, and has triumphed over everything that would destroy it. This war with the senses enables faith to win a more glorious victory. To consider God equally good in the most petty and ordinary events as in great and unusual ones, is to have a faith that is not ordinary, but is itself great and extraordinary.
To be satisfied with the present moment is to delight in, and to adore God’s will in all that comes to us to do or suffer through the succession of events each passing moment brings. Those who have this disposition adore God with redoubled love and respect, even in the greatest humiliation. Nothing hides Him from the piercing eye of faith. The louder the senses exclaim, “This cannot be from God!” the closer they press this bundle of myrrh from the hand of the Bridegroom. Nothing daunts them; nothing repels them.
Mary remained steadfast at the foot of the cross when the disciples fled. She recognized her Son in that Face, spat upon and bruised, covered with mud and spittle. The wounds that disfigured Him only made Him more lovable and adorable in the eyes of this tender Mother. The more awful were the blasphemies uttered against Him, so much the deeper became her veneration.
In the same way, the life of faith is nothing less than the continued pursuit of God through all that disguises, disfigures, destroys, and, so to speak, annihilates Him. It is in very truth a reproduction of the life of Mary, who, from the Stable to Calvary remained unalterably united to that God whom the world despised, persecuted and abandoned. Just so, faithful souls, despite a constant succession of trials, veils of darkness and illusive appearances which make His will difficult to recognize, persistently follow Him and love Him even to the death of the cross. They know that, heedless of all disguises, they must run after the light of this divine Sun. From its rising to its setting, however dark or thick the clouds may be that hide it, this Sun enlightens, warms, and inflames the faithful hearts that bless, praise, and contemplate Him at every point of His mysterious journey across their sky.
Hasten, then, happy faithful, untiring souls, to this beloved Spouse, who with giant strides passes from one end of the heavens to the other! Nothing will be able to hide Him from you. He moves above the smallest blade of grass as above the mighty cedar. The grains of sand are under His feet no less than the huge mountains. Wherever your foot may rest, He has passed, and you have only to follow Him faithfully to find Him wherever you may go.
Oh, what a delightful peace we enjoy when we have learned by faith to find God through all His creatures as through a transparent veil. Then darkness becomes light and bitterness becomes sweet. Faith, showing us things they are, transforms their ugliness into beauty, their malice into goodness. Faith is the mother of gentleness, confidence and joy. It cannot help feeling tenderness and compassion for its enemies, by whose means it is so immeasurably enriched. The more malignant the action of the creature, the more profitable God makes it to the soul. While the human instrument seeks to injure us, the divine Workman does His work, making us of its very malice to remove from the soul all that is injurious to it.
The will of God has nothing but sweetness, grace, and treasures, for the surrendered soul. It is impossible to place too much confidence in it, or to surrender oneself to it too utterly. It always acts for, and desires that which contributes most to our perfection, provided we allow it to act. Faith does not doubt. The more unfaithful, uncertain, and rebellious are the senses, the louder faith cries, “All is well! It is the will of God!” There is nothing that the eye of faith does not penetrate, nothing that the power of faith does not overcome. It passes through the thick darkness, and, no matter what clouds may gather, it goes straight to the truth, grasps it in firm embrace, and never lets it go.
Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade – Click here to purchase The Joy of Full Surrender