On Conformity to the Will of God
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
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 Commandments, 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 6:38.
Devout Souls, if you Love God, and desire-to become Saints, you must seek
His Will, and Wish what He Wishes. Saint 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" - Romans 5:5. 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 Today, in the First (1st) 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.
Our Sanctification, Consists Entirely in Conformity to the Will of God
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" - 1John 3:14. The
Perfection of Love, consists-in Conforming our
Will to the Will of God. "And Life in His Good Will" - Psalm 29:6.
"Have Charity, which is the Bond of Perfection - Colossians 3:14. According to the Areopagite, the Principal Effect of
Love is to-Unite the Wills of Lovers, so that
they may have but One (1) Heart, and One (1)
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-of Chastisement.
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 Mrother, and Sister, and Mother" - Matthew 12:50. By
these Words, He gave us to-Understand that He acknowledged-as Friends and Relatives, those
only who Fulfill the Will of His Father.
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" - Matthew 6:10. Hence Saint 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 an 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".
A Perfect Act of Conformity, is sufficient to make a Person a Saint.
Behold, Jesus Christ appeared to Saint 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 9:6. 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 9:15. 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" -
Proverbs 23:26. 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 He 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.
How, and in what we ought to Practice Conformity to the Will of God
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;
O God! my Heart is ready" - Psalm 107:2. And he continually Besought the Lord to Teach him to do
His Divine Will. "Teach me to do Thy Will" - Psalm 142:10. 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 13:22. And why? Because the Holy King was always ready to do whatever
God Wished him to do.
Saint Teresa offered herself to God, Fifty (50) 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 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
(1) Blessed be God, in Adversity, is better than Six
Thousand (6000) 'Thanksgivings', in Prosperity.
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.
"Good Things and Evil ... are from God". 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 a 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 1:21. 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 hath 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, O Eternal God, for
having given us the Grace to accomplish Thy Will".
"Whatsoever shall Befall the Just Man, it shall not make him Sad" - Proverbs 12:21. A
Soul that Loves God is not Disturbed-by any
Misfortune that may happen to Her. Cesaxius relates 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" - Matthew 11:26. Lord, this is
Pleasing to Thee; let it be done.
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" - Philippians 4:7. 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" - Ecclesiastes 27:12.
Fools - that is, Sinners - are Changed-like the Moon, which Increases Today, and
Grows-less on Tomorrow; Today they are seen to Laugh through Folly, and Tomorrow, to Weep through
Despair; Today they are Humble and Meek, Tomorrow,
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 16:22.
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, hoe 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 Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to Feel, at the Bare Mention-of the Will of God,
that she would fall into an Ecstasy.
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?" - Romans 9:19. 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 9:4. 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" - 1Thessalonians 4:3. 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" - Romans 8:28. 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" - Judith 8:27. God Loves us so Tenderly,
that He not only Desires, but is Solicitous-about our Welfare.
"The Lord", says David, "is careful for me" - Psalm 39:18.
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" - 1Peter 5:7. 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" - Psalm 143:10. 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 9:6. 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 Eve and Die
saying: "Thy Will be done! Thy Will be done!".
- End of Liguori Sermon -
May the Divine Will be Loved and Praised!
May the Immaculate Virgin be also Praised!