1. Recognize the goodness of God’s will
We cannot help conforming ourselves to those we love. True love is never ungrateful, but strives to please those in whom it has found pleasure. Thus, having great love, the saints are very quickly and perfectly transformed, since love transports and translates the manners and dispositions of one heart into another. God has a true desire that we should follow His signified will, but permits us to resist according to our free choice. A loving heart loves the commandments. The more difficult they are, the sweeter and more agreeable it finds them, since this more perfectly pleases the Beloved and gives Him greater honor.
“Charity does nothing in vain” (Cf. 1 Cor. 13:8) – Charity is sacred water by which the garden of the Church is made fertile. Although charity itself is colorless, the flowers that it makes spring up have each of them a different color. Charity makes martyrs redder than the rose and virgins whiter than the lily. To some, it gives the fine violet of mortification, and to others, the yellow of marriage cares. In various ways, it employs the counsels for the perfection of souls that are happy to live under its sway.
2. Keep a steady pursuit of holiness
It is horrible irreverence to Him who with so much love and sweetness invites us to perfection, to say, “I do not want to be holy, or perfect, or to have a greater share in Your friendship, or to follow the counsels You give me to advance in it.”
The sun’s rays give light while giving warmth and warmth while giving light. Inspiration is a heavenly ray that brings into our hearts a warm light that makes us see the good, and fires us on to its pursuit. Oh, how happy are they who keep their hearts open to holy inspirations! They never lack the graces necessary to them in order to live well and devoutly according to their conditions, and to fulfill in a holy way the duties of their profession.
3. Follow God’s will in making decisions
Avoid undertaking too many spiritual works at once. The evil one deludes us, and to distract us from achieving some good, he proposes another that seems better. After we have started the second one, to divert us from completing it, he presents us with a third. He is satisfied if we make many beginnings, provided we never finish anything.
Just as a shrub that is often transplanted cannot take root and, as a result, cannot come to maturity and yield the desired fruit, so the soul that transplants its heart from plan to plan cannot profit or gain proper growth in perfection, since perfection does not consist in beginnings but in accomplishment.
Therefore, once we have found God’s most holy will in our vocation, let each one of us devoutly and lovingly abide by it, and practice its proper exercises according to the order of discretion, and with zeal for perfection.
4. Learn to embrace your crosses
Christian doctrine, the sole true philosophy, has three principles on which it bases all its practices: self-denial, which is far more than to abstain from pleasures; to carry Christ’s cross, which is far more than to lift it up; and to follow our Lord, not only in renouncing self and in carrying His Cross, but also in whatever belongs to the practice of every kind of good work.
Cultivate a holy indifference to all but God’s good pleasure – the indifferent heart “loves tribulation as much as consolation, although the latter is more agreeable in itself. It has even greater love for tribulation, because it sees in it nothing to be loved except the mark of God’s will. If I like only pure water, what does it matter to me whether it is served in a goblet of gold or in one of glass, since in either case I drink only the water? In fact, I will prefer it in the glass, since the glass has the same color as the water, which I can thus see much better. What does it matter whether God’s will is offered to me in tribulation or in consolation? In each of them, I neither desire nor seek anything except the divine will, which is better seen, because no other beauty is present there but that of God’s most holy, eternal good pleasure.”
The indifferent heart is like a ball of wax in God’s hands, ready to receive all the impressions of His eternal good pleasure.
To train us in such holy indifference, God very often inspires us with most lofty plans, but does not will that they succeed. Then, just as we must confidently, courageously, and constantly begin and pursue the work as long as possible, so also we must humbly and calmly acquiesce in whatever outcome God is pleased to give to the enterprise. We are commanded to have great care about things that pertain to God’s glory and are in our charge, but we are not responsible for or charged with the outcome, since it is not in our power.
5. Do not be discouraged by your failings
God has ordered us to do all we can to acquire holy virtues. If we do not find our soul’s progress and advance in the devout life to be such as we would like, let us not be disturbed, let us abide in peace, so that tranquility may always reign in our hearts. It is for us to cultivate our souls well, and therefore we must faithfully attend to them. But as for plentiful crops and harvests, let us leave care of that to our Lord. The laborer will never be blamed for not having a fine harvest, unless he did not carefully till and sow his fields.
St. Paul begged our Lord to deliver from him “a sting of the flesh,” God answered him, “Paul, my grace is sufficient for you, for strength is made perfect in infirmity.” (2 Cor. 12:8-9).
6. Purify your love for God
Happy is the heart that loves God with no other pleasure but that which it takes in pleasing God. What purer and more perfect pleasure can we ever have than that which we take in God’s pleasure?
7. Abandon yourself completely to God’s will
Before we pass onto the next life, our will can pass over the boundaries of its accustomed life so as to live wholly in the divine will. At such times, it neither can nor wishes to will anything further, but abandons itself entirely and without reserve to the good pleasure of Divine Providence, so mingling and dissolving itself in this good pleasure that it no longer shows forth. It is completely “hidden with Jesus Christ in God,” where it is no longer itself that lives but God’s will that lives in it.
What becomes of the light of the stars when the sun appears on the horizon? Such light does not actually perish, but it is ravished and absorbed into the sun’s supreme light with which it is happily intermingled and joined. What becomes of man’s will when it’s entirely abandoned to the divine good pleasure? It does not wholly perish, yet it is so engulfed in and intermingled with God’s will that it no longer shows forth and has no further desire apart from God’s will.
In such case, the heart no longer says, “Your will be done, not mine,” for there is now no will to renounce. It says these words, “Lord, into Your hands I commend my will,” as though it did not have its will at its own disposal but only that of Divine Providence.
It is like what might be said of a little child who does not yet have use of his will so as to desire or love anything except his dear mother’s breast and face. He does not think of wanting to be on one side or the other, or of desiring anything else whatever save only to be in the arms of his mother, with whom he thinks himself to be one being. He is never at pains to adapt his will to his mother’s, for he does not know his own will and does not think he has one. To his mother he leaves complete care to go, to do, and to will what she finds good in him.
We ourselves, as little children of our heavenly Father, can walk with Him in two ways. In the first way, we can walk with the steps of our own will, which we conform to His, holding always with the hand of our obedience the hand of His divine intention and following wherever it leads us. But we can also walk with our Lord without having any will of our own. We simply let ourselves be carried by His divine good pleasure, just as a little child is carried in his mother’s arms, by a unity of our will with that of God.