A couple of weeks ago I was given a copy of St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s, Uniformity with God’s Will. If you are like me, such a title sets off “fear and trembling” in the soul and the decision to maybe read the book later.
Union with God’s will is at the heart of the spiritual life. In fact, among the writings of the saints you will find no other topic so commonly heralded as the most important pursuit of the spiritual life. As I was dodging St. Alponsus’ writing on God’s will I picked up St. Theresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. I opened to a paragraph on the Second Dwelling Place which stated, "The whole aim of any person who is beginning prayer—and don’t forget this, because it is very important—should be that he work and prepare himself with determination and every possible effort to bring his will into conformity with God’s will.” I learned two things from this passage: First, that I need to reflect more on what it means to be in conformity and uniformity with God’s Will, and second, instead of picking up a spiritual book to read, next time read the latest edition of “Farm and Ranch Living.”
Those who are advancing in the spiritual life really do seek more and more to do God’s will alone. Personally, I find myself resisting more than conforming and uniforming, but I do know people who are singular in their pursuit of God’s will. One such person is a good friend of mine who has stage four metastatic bone cancer. This is her second bout with cancer and she is starting a long regimen of chemotherapy. Normally, in such cases, people ask me to pray for healing; often, through the intercession of Fr. Kapaun. However, my friend, although certainly open to healing and would welcome such an outcome, asked for one thing. Yes, you guessed it. Her request was that I pray that she “desire and fulfill God’s Will.”
It is one thing to read the saints’ writings on conforming and uniforming to God’s Will. It is another thing to see it modeled by friends and family members. The latter has a much greater impact and results in a powerful means of evangelization. When someone is suffering and their number one concern is conforming to the Will of God, we can’t help but be inspired and challenged ourselves. In fact, Pope Francis, quoting a passage from a document of the Second Vatican Council states that those suffering “are active participants in the work of evangelization and salvation.”
Why is conforming and uniforming ourselves to God’s Will the one non-negotiable to growth in holiness? St. Theresa of Avila gives us the answer, “Don’t think that in what concerns perfection there is some mystery or things unknown or still to be understood, for in perfect conformity to God’s will lies all our good.”
Back to my “Farm and Ranch Living” magazine.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam,
Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor
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