Monday, January 16, 2017

You only become the saint you do not want to become



Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

I offer you these reflections on Suffering because they place before our hearts aspects of life that we are often afraid to look at so candidly.  Though honest, one might even say brutally so, they also seem to buoy up the heart with their deep insights into the presence and providence of God in places we wouldn't expect.  Encountering the trials and turmoils of life that often leave our hopes and dreams in tatters, and experiencing the inevitable decline of old age and its losses, we begin to understand that neither our sanctity nor the love of God depends on anything in this world.  In fact, we find when we are empty Fullness comes to us, when broken the Healer, and when our hearts are made bitter through suffering the Sweetness of Love.

You will never become a saint in the way you imagine or hope.  One can become a saint only be accepting a will other than one's own.   I often imagine the story of an old, worn man, of an elderly and disappointed woman, whose every good desire has run aground, whom God has constantly hindered in their most generous plans.

Their vocation, put to the test, has been denied; their attempts at the apostolate have failed for miserable reasons of money and machination, their marriage is sterile or their children are dead, their life is useless.

They grow old anxious and lonely, surrounded by ruins.

But when, sometimes, on their knees, in a long, mute prayer, they dare to question the impenetrable Providence who has conducted their lives, when they reach out their empty hands towards God, when they offer him their wasted existence, their hearts which have been beaten so little, it comes about that they receive a strangely comforting answer.  They sometimes come to understand, in a disarming light, that everything is quite as he wanted it, that their own will would have led them to human results, but that God preferred to lead them to him, that he reserved them entirely for himself, so that the witness they bear to him is pure.

"Yes, I have shattered your projects, I have annihilated your pride.  Nobody needs you, you live without self-contentment, you are before me like a lamp which shines for the satisfaction of nobody, - you are 'without any purpose.'  But you are my love and my glory, I placed my delight in you, you are the portion reserved to me, so well preserved that you are wanted by nobody else, and that you do not even think of being useful, you are my purest reflection because you have become the saints you did not want to become."

L. Evely
Suffering