Of the Great Benefits and Advantages Contained in This Conformity to the Will of God

by admin on October 31, 2010

Blessed St. Basil says that the height of sanctity and perfection in Christian life consists in attributing the causes of all things, great and small, to God and conforming ourselves therein to His most holy will. But that we may better understand the perfection and importance of this and so be more given to it and more careful to secure it, we will proceed to set forth in particular the benefits and great advantages contained in this conformity to the will of God.

Conformity is the Source of our Peace and Quiet

In the first place, this is that true and perfect resignation which the saints and all the masters of spiritual life so greatly extol, and say that it is the root and principle of all our peace and quiet, since in this way a man submits and places himself in the hands of God, like a little clay in the hands of a workman, that He may work in him His entire will, not seeking any longer to be his own, or to live for himself, nor to eat, nor sleep, nor labor for himself, but all for God and for the sake of God. Now this is what this conformity effects, since by it a man entrusts himself entirely to the will of God, so as not to desire to seek anything else than that the divine will may be entirely accomplished in him alike in all that the man himself does and in all that may happen to him, alike in prosperity and consolation and in adversity and affliction. This is so pleasing to God that for it King David was called by God a man according to His own heart. I
have found David, a man according to my own heart, who will accomplish all my wishes (I Kings xiii. 14). He kept his heart in as much abandonment and subjection to the heart of the Lord, and as prompt and ready for anything that God might please to imprint thereon in the way of affliction or relief, as a piece of soft wax to receive any figure or form that men chose to give it. Therefore he said again arid again: My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready (Psalm.Ivi. 8; cvii. 2).

Conformity Involves Perfect Mortification

Secondly, he who shall have attained this entire and perfect conformity to the will of God, will have gained an entire and perfect mortification and mastery of all his passions and evil inclinations. We well know how necessary this mortification is and how highly it is praised and commended by saints and Holy Scripture. Now this mortification is a means necessarily to be presupposed to come to attain to this conformity to the will of God. That is the end, and mortification the means to arrive at that end. Now
the ultimate end must always be higher and more perfect than the means. How necessary a means mortification is to come to attain to this entire and perfect conformity to the will of God is easy to see, for what hinders this union and conformity is our own self-will and disorderly appetite. Thus the more a man denies and mortifies his will and appetite, the more easily will he unite and conform himself to the will of God. To unite and adjust a rough piece of wood to another well wrought and polished, it is necessary first to tool it and remove the roughness, otherwise the one will never fit into the other. Now this is what mortification does; it removes our roughness, planing and tooling us, that so we may be able to be united and adjusted to God, conforming ourselves in all to His divine will. Thus the more mortified a man is, the better will he succeed in uniting and adjusting himself to the will of God; and when he shall be perfectly mortified, then will he arrive at this perfect union and conformity.

Conformity is our Greatest Sacrifice to God

Hence follows another thing, which may be our number three. This entire resignation and conformity to the will of God is the greatest and most acceptable and agreeable sacrifice that a man can offer of himself to God. In other sacrifices he offers his goods, but in this he offers himself. In other sacrifices and mortifications he mortifies himself in part—as in temperance or modesty, in silence or in patience, he offers a part of himself to God; but this is a holocaust in which a man offers himself entirely and wholly to God to do with all that He wills and as He wills and when He wills, without exception of anything or reservation of anything for himself. Thus, as man is worth more than the property of man and the whole is worth more than the part, so this sacrifice is worth more than all other sacrifices and mortifications. And God sets such store by it that it is this that He requires and asks of us. Son, give me thy heart (Prov. xxiii. 26). Thus as the royal hawk feeds only on hearts, so does God feed on that which is most precious and
valuable, which is the heart. If you give Him not this, with nothing else can you content or satisfy Him. And this is not asking much of us; for if to us, who are a little heap of dust and ashes, all that God has created is not enough to satisfy or content us, and our tiny little heart will never be satisfied with anything less than God, how can you think to content and satisfy God by giving Him not your whole heart, but part of it, and reserving the rest for yourself? You are much mistaken, since our heart does not admit of being divided or parted in this manner. A little and narrow bed is the heart, says the Prophet Isaias (xxviii. 20); there is no room in it for more than God. Therefore the spouse calls it a little bed (Cant iii. 1), because she kept her heart narrowed in such as way as to leave no room for any other than her Beloved. And whoever shall seek to dilate and widen his heart to make room in it for another, will cast God out of it, and of this His Divine Majesty complains by Isaias (Ivii. 8): Thou hast committed adultery, receiving in the bed of thy “heart another than thy Beloved, and to cover the adulterer thou hast uncovered and cast out God. Had we a thousand hearts, we should offer them all to God, and all should seem to us little compared to what we owe to so great a Lord,

Fourthly, as we said at the beginning, whoever shall reach this conformity, will reach perfect charity and love of God; and the more he shall grow in it, the more will he grow in love of God and consequently in perfection, which consists in this charity and love. This faith, apart from what we said before, is well gathered from what we have said just now, since the love of God consists not in words, but in deeds. “The proof of love is the display of work done,” says St. Gregory. And the more difficult the works are and the more they cost us, the more manifest is the love that prompts them. So St. John, to show the love that God bore the world, says: God hath so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son to suffer and die for us (John
iii. 16), And to manifest the love that He bore His Father, Christ our Redeemer says: That the world may know that I love the Father, arise, let us go hence (John xiv. 31); and the errand on which He went was to suffer death on the Cross. So He gave testimony to the world that He loved His Father, in accomplishing a commandment so rigorous. Thus it is in works that love is shown; and the greater and more laborious the works are, the greater is the display of love. This entire conformity to the will of God, as we have said, is the greatest sacrifice that we can offer of ourselves to God because it presupposes a perfect mortification and resignation, whereby one offers oneself to God and places oneself entirely in His hands, that He may do therewith what He pleases. And so there is nothing in which a man better shows the love that he bears to God than in this, since he gives and offers Him all that he has and all that he possibly could have and desire; and if he could have more and could give more, he would give it all.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: