Now I will briefly explain the three spiritual principles that were introduced in the previous post:
1. GOD ALWAYS ACTS ACCORDING TO HIS NATURE: LOVE.
2. WITHOUT God we can do NOTHING. (John 15:5)
3. WITH God we can do ALL THINGS. (Philippians 4:13)
1. “Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father’s Love — difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul’s miseries, her burdens, her needs — everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness — everything is a grace because everything is God’s gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events — to the heart that loves, all is well.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
“All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to them that seek after his covenant and his testimonies.” (Psalm 25:10)
“And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.” (Romans 8:28)
Everything that we experience in life is a part of God’s loving Providence. Therefore, we can and should be grateful for everything! Not easy is it! But through prayer, God’s grace can achieve this. Certainly there are many things in the world (and within ourselves) that are not as they ought to be, but we must not give up on that account. God alone can fix these things and He requires our heart, our co-operation and our confidence: “Wherein lies the limit of My power over you? In your confidence.” (Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity). We would do well to ask God every day for the grace of boundless confidence (see my post, ‘Prayer to Obtain the Grace of Boundless Confidence’). Remember that we will still have to fight courageously against sin and temptation. Often we fall into discouragement because we rely too much on our own strength. If we only persevered in trust we would not become discouraged so easily, having the assurance that victory is on our side (of course, we will still fall sometimes; only a special grace from God can keep us from all sin).
2. /3. “Indeed, our impotence (helplessness) is radical. ‘Without Me you can do nothing,’ says Our Saviour. In the supernatural order, this impotence is absolute. Heed well the teachings of the theologians. Without grace, man cannot observe the commandments of God for a long time or in their totality. Without grace, he cannot resist all the temptations, sometimes so violent, that assault him. Without grace, we cannot have a good thought (2 Corinthians 3:5); we cannot even make the shortest prayer; without it, we cannot even invoke with piety the holy name of Jesus. Everything that we do in the supernatural order comes to us from God alone. Even in the natural order, it is still God who gives us victory.” – Fr. Thomas de Saint-Laurent
The implications of this teaching are so great, so consoling, so beautiful, and so humbling that I cannot do it justice! If we are tempted to judge our neighbour, for example, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (we would be abysses of sin and misery without the gift of God’s grace); if we have the desire to be a saint but fear that we have ‘missed’ our opportunity, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (“… God would not inspire unattainable desires; I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to sanctity.” – St. Therese; “Do not be afraid! Jesus has given you the desire to be good. He will help you”. – St. Francis de Sales); if we fear that God would reject our sincere desire to love Him, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (“The desire to love is love.” – St. Pio; repentance is a grace from God; “… they cannot then despair, since Thy paternal call is followed by so much mercy.” – St. Mechtilde); if we are overcome by severe temptations, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (“… God is faithful and will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength” – 1 Corinthians 10:13); if we have fallen thousands of times into sin, but wish to amend our lives, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (we would not have this desire if it were not for God, and God does not deceive). Let us, therefore, cultivate a profound distrust of self, and a boundless trust in God!
Hopefully it is now clear to you why the truth about our absolute impotence/helplessness is so important for us to grasp, and so helpful in the battle against discouragement. Why else would St. Paul have exclaimed, “When I am weak then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12: 10); why would St. Therese have said, “It is my weakness that gives me all my strength”; why would Bl. Dina Belanger have said, “I am penetrated with my nothingness, I feel myself poor, weak, and powerless. But because of this, my confidence in Jesus is like a shoreless ocean, engulfing the abyss of my misery”?
That is it: the knowledge of our own weakness and misery should inspire us with distrust of self, trust in God, gratitude for God’s infinite kindness, love, confidence… treasures of infinite value! These treasures must be sought through prayer, first and foremost.*
Here are some quotes to help you better appreciate and discover these treasures:
“My grace will never fail you.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez
“If thou wouldst please Me, trust in Me; if thou wouldst please Me more, trust still more; if thou wouldst please Me immensely, trust in Me immensely; but thy trust can never equal the desire of My Heart. An act of confidence pleases Me so much because it honours My dearest attributes: goodness and Mercy.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata
[Regarding the words, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’]: “This is for you the most comforting saying in the Gospel, because it excuses all your weaknesses and throws you in complete abandonment upon the Heart of God. There, dissolved in a single act of love, you may ask what you will, and it will be granted you!” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone
“I know that Jesus is in me – it is he who does everything in me: I do nothing.” – St. Therese (Of course, this does not mean that grace will do everything for us; we must fight.)
“I can do nothing alone; my own will, however hard I exert it, does not suffice; my own plans, however astutely and systematically devised, all fail. So, there is nothing for me to do but to hand myself over to God, truly and wholly, so that he may use, or for that matter, in his wisdom not use, whatever capacity I possess to serve him.” – St. Francis de Sales
“Do not reflect on your helplessness; My Heart is powerful enough to sustain you. It is yours; take from it all you need.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez
“I can refuse nothing to one who relies entirely on Me. Souls are too little conscious of how much I want to help them and how much I am glorified by their trust.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez
“I require nothing of you beyond what is already yours.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez
“Trust always in Jesus! If only you knew how much pleasure that gives Me. Grant me this solace to trust in Me even in the shadow of death.” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone
“You are astonished that often an effort that seemed impossible to make, instead of exhausting, strengthens you. It is not astonishing, it is true: I never allow Myself to be outdone by generosity… Many souls deprive themselves of many graces because they refuse to make efforts which seem impossible to them, which are only offered to the generosity of their initiative.” – Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity
*If I could recommend one book to Christians/Catholics, it would probably be ‘The Ways of Mental Prayer’ by Vital Lehodey. Not only will it re-iterate what I have written, but it will teach you many other sublime truths, such as about how to pray well, how to obtain many graces, and how to progress through the initial stages of prayer to contemplation. I assure you that to pray well is to live well, and to live well is to die well. Please purchase this book and read it many times!
(My next post will be on prayer).