by Father Lasance, Peace Not as the World Gives
TRUST IN GOD
Great indeed and very comforting are the promises made to prayer. “Ask, and you shall receive.” It would seem from this that one has only to ask in the name of Christ and he is sure of getting what he wants; yet, common sense tells us that cannot be the meaning intended.
If it were, we Christians should ask for all the good things of life and get them, the hard and bitter things being left to those who had no faith; for, when any affliction threatened us, we should at once pray it away.
It is evident, surely, that prayer is not meant to be simply an escape from suffering. Mark, now, that little clause: “that your joy may be full”; for therein lies the explanation of Our Savior’s words.
What joy is He thinking of? Eternal joy, of course. He binds Himself, therefore, to give us whatever will help us on our road to heaven.
He will indeed hear and answer all our prayers; but if we make foolish petitions, He will answer them in His own wise and fatherly way by giving us something better.
If we let our children have everything they cried for we should soon see them in their graves; and if God were to grant us everything we ask of Him, we should never rise to a better life.
GOD HATH CARE OF YOU
LET US ABANDON OURSELVES WHOLLY TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE!
There is perhaps no maxim which helps more than this to obtain the peace of heart and evenness of mind that belongs to a Christian life. There is perhaps no maxim which, if this is practiced with the simplicity and generosity of heart that it requires, renders the follower of Jesus Christ more dear to our heavenly Father.
For, it implies perfect confidence in Him and in Him alone, complete detachment from all that appears delightful, powerful, and illustrious on earth, and a tender love, reserved for God alone.
It implies a most lively faith, which believes as certain that all things in the world, both great and small, rest alike in the hand of our heavenly Father, and that nothing is done by them unless as disposed by Him for the accomplishment of His adorable designs.
It implies also a belief in the infinite goodness, mercy, bounty, and generosity of our heavenly Father, who disposes all things for the good of them that trust in Him, and whose gifts and favors and care and graces are bestowed in proportion to the confidence of His well-beloved children.
The sure way by which the Christian may know if he is wanting in the full confidence that he is commanded to have in the provident care of his heavenly Father is to examine whether he feels any disquietude about the good and evil things of this world: whether he is always perfectly tranquil and calm, and prepared for whatever may happen; or is subject to anxiety, taking human measures with painful uneasiness as to their result, and, like a man of little faith, hoping and fearing excessively, and continually wavering. —Antonio Rosmini: Maxims of Christian Perfection.
Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to Him: and His wonderful works to the children of men.
They that go down to the sea in ships, doing business in the great waters:
These have seen the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.
He said the word, and there arose a storm of wind: and the waves thereof were lifted up.
They mount up to the heavens, and they go down to the depths: their soul pined away with evils.
They were troubled, and reeled like a drunken man; and all their wisdom was swallowed up.
And they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and He brought them out of their distresses.
And He turned the storm into a breeze: and its waves were still.
And they rejoiced because they were still: and He brought them to the haven which they wished for.
Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to Him, and His wonderful works to the children of men.
—Ps. cvi. 21-31.
REQUIESCANT IN PACE
What is heavenly joy? The most concise definition of it we can look to find is contained in the Church’s familiar prayer for her dead: “Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”
Eternal rest is the negative side of it, perpetual light the positive. Of this latter St. Paul has written, quoting the prophet Isaias: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him” (r Cor. ii. 9).
Now, if heaven meant nothing more than eternal rest; that is, lasting and conscious deliverance from all the ills of this weary pilgrimage, would it not even then be worth all that we are called on to pay down for it?
But it means so much more than this; and if even on this earth the good can for a little space so flood our soul with joy, if an enchanting scene or a strain of exquisite music, or the sense of love returned can so melt our hearts as to make us forgetful of all life’s troubles, how will it be, think you, when the Lord of heaven and earth, the Source of all love and all beauty, lays Himself out to make His creatures happy?
May we not be sure that He knows how to do it? Oh, in very truth: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man what things God bath prepared for them that love Him.”
The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seem to die, and their departure was taken for misery, and their going away from us, for utter destruction; but they are in peace, and though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality.
Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded; because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace He bath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust He hath received them, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds (Wis. iii. r-7).
Then shall the just stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them. . . . These, seeing it, shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation, saying within themselves, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit:-These are they whom he had some time in derision, and for a parable of reproach.
We fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honor. Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints. (Wis. V. 1-5)
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