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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

On the Conformity to the Will of God

April 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, God's Will, Lent, Meditations, Preparation for Death

On The Conformity to the Will of God

And, life in his good-will.”
cf Psalm 30:6

All our salvation and perfection consists in loving God. “He that loveth not, abideth in death” (1 John 3:14). “Charity, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:14). But the perfection of love consists in conformity to the divine will; for, as the Areopagite says, the principal effect of love is to unite the will of lovers so that they may have but one heart and one will. Hence our actions, our works of penance, our communions and alms-deeds, please God only inasmuch as they are conformable to the divine will; for, if they are not conformable to the divine will of God, they are not good works, but are defective, and deserving of chastisement.

Our Savior came down from heaven principally to teach us by example to conform ourselves to the will of God. Behold what he said, as the apostle writes, at this entrance into this world: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not; but a body thou hast fitted to me…Then, said I, behold I come…that I should do thy will, O my God” (Hebrews 10:5, 7). You, O my Father, have refused the victims offered by men; you wish that, by my death, I should sacrifice this body which you have given me; behold me ready to do your will. This he frequently declared, saying, that he came on earth only to do the will of his Father. “I came down from heaven, not to do my will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38). And by going to die through obedience to the will of his Father, he wished to make known to us his great love for his Father. “That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I. Arise; let us go hence” (John 14:31). Hence he has said that he acknowledges for his disciples only those who fulfill the divine will. “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mothers” (Matthew 12:50), The accomplishment of the divine will has been the only object and desire of the saints in all their works. Blessed Henry Suson used to say, “I would rather be the vilest worm on earth in conformity with the will of God, than be a seraph with my own will.” St. Teresa says, “All that he who practices prayer should seek is, to conform his will to the divine will; and let him be assured,” adds the saint, “that in this consists the highest perfection. He who shall practice it best shall receive the greatest gifts from God, and shall make the greatest progress iin spiritual life. “The blessed in heaven love God perfectly, because they are in all things conformed to the divine will. Hence, Jesus Christ has taught us 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.” He who does the will of God shall, as David says, become a man according to God's own heart. “I have found a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills” (Acts 13:22). And why? Because David was always prepared to do whatever God wished. “My heart is ready, O my God, my heart is ready” (Psalm 108:2). He asked nothing else from the Lord, than to teach him to do his will. “Teach me to do thy will” (Psalm 143:10).

ElGrecoStPaulGoogleArtProjectO, how great is the value of an act of perfect resignation to the will of God; it is sufficient to make a saint! While St. Paul was persecuting the Church, Jesus appeared to him, enlightened and converted him. The saint only offered himself to do the divine will. “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (cf Acts 9:6). And behold, Jesus Christ instantly declared him a vessel of election and apostle of the Gentiles. “This man is to me a vessel of election to carry my name before the Gentiles” (Acts 6:15). He who fasts, gives alms, or mortifies himself for God's sake, gives a part of himself to God; but the man who gives his will to God, gives himself entirely to him. All that God asks of us is our heart, that is our will. “My son, give me thy heart” (Proverbs 23:26). In a word, the accomplishment of the divine will must be the object of all our desires, of our devotions, meditations, communions, etc. The object of all our prayers must be, to obtain from God the grace to do his will. And for this purpose, we must implore the intercession of our holy advocates, and particularly of most holy Mary, that they may procure for us light and strength to conform ourselves to the will of God in all things, but particularly in embracing what is opposed to self-love. The Venerable John Avila [now St. John of Avila] used to say, “A single ‘Blessed be God' in adversity, is better than six thousand acts of thanksgiving in prosperity.”

Affections and Prayers

Ah, my God, all my past ruin has arisen from a want of conformity to thy will. O God of my soul, I detest and curse a thousand times the days and moments in which I have, in order to do my own will, contradicted thy holy will. I now give my whole will to thee. Accept it, O my Lord, and bind it so firmly to thy love, that it may nevermore be able to rebel against thee. I love thee, O infinite Goodness, and through the love which I bear thee, I offer myself entirely to thee. Dispose of me and of all I possess as thou pleasest; I resign myself entirely to thy holy will. Preserve me from the misfortune of doing anything against thy holy will, and then treat me as thou wishest. Eternal Father, hear me for the love of Jesus Christ. My Jesus, hear me through the merits of thy passion. Most holy Mary, assist me; obtain for me the grace to fulfill the divine will, in the accomplishment of which my salvation entirely consists; obtain this grace for me, and I ask nothing more.

Editor's note: This meditation is from St. Alphonsus Liguori's “Preparation for Death” (1758) and it concludes our Lenten series for 2015. This year the series touched on the first of three points within each consideration of this meditation. If you missed any, or would like to review them, please click here for a listing and links to all of them.  We hope to bring you additional points of each consideration in the future.

Art: St. Paul, El Greco, 1610/1614, PD-US old, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, the High Calling Seminary Preparation Program, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer, speaker and pilgrimage director who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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