A Year with the Saints/October
1. As the omnipotence of God is infinite, nothing is impossible to Him; as His wisdom is infinite, nothing is difficult to Him; as His goodness is immeasurable, He has an infinite desire for our well-being. Now, should this not be enough to make us repose all our confidence in Him?----Scupoli
This thought must have taken strong hold of a certain servant of God in Rome, who, as it is recorded, once addressed this prayer to Him: "O Lord! I desire that there may be no delay; think of the matter Thyself, for I mean to be heard. Thou art my Father, and if Thou wilt not do this for me, there is no one else who can do it. Consider, if through the merits of Thy Christ I do."
St. Francis de Sales was filled with so much confidence in God that he was in perfect tranquillity amid the greatest disasters; for he could not persuade himself, as he often said, that anyone who trusts in a Providence infinite in all respects, has not cause to hope for a good result from whatever it permits to happen to him.
The Lord once appeared to St. Gertrude and said to her: "When anyone has complete confidence in Me and believes that I have the power, the wisdom, and the desire to aid him on all occasions, this ravishes My heart, and does Me such violence that I cannot help favoring such a soul, on account of the pleasure I experience in seeing it so dependent upon Me, and to satisfy the great love I bear to it."
2. God certainly desires our greatest good more than we ourselves desire it. He knows better than we by what way it can come to us; and the choice of ways is wholly in His hands, as it is He who governs and regulates all that occurs in the world. It is, then, most certain that in all chances that can befall, whatever may happen will always be best for us.----St. Augustine
St. Francis de Sales, knowing that all events succeed one another according to the disposal of Divine Providence, rested upon it more tranquilly than an infant upon its mother's bosom. He said that the Lord had taught him this lesson even from his youth, and that if he were to begin life again, he would despise worldly prudence more than ever, and allow himself to be governed entirely by Divine Providence.
3. Do you desire security? Here you have it. The Lord says to thee, "I will never abandon thee, I will always be with thee!" If a good man made you such a promise, you would trust him. God makes it, and do you doubt? Do you seek a support more sure than the word of God, which is infallible? Surely, He has made the promise, He has written it, He has pledged His word for it, it is most certain.----St. Augustine
It is related in the Life of St. Rose of Lima that she had inherited from her mother, who was very timorous and apprehensive of danger, such great timidity that she did not dare, in the night, to go from one room in the house to another without a candle, except for prayer, for the sake of which she conquered every terror. One evening she lingered longer than usual in the little arbor which had been built for her oratory in the garden. Her mother, afraid that some harm might have come to her, resolved to go in search of her; but not having courage to go alone, she asked her husband to accompany her. When Rose saw them, she immediately ended her prayer, and went to meet them; then excusing herself for her tardiness, she went back with them to the house. But on the way, she began to say to herself: "How is this? My mother, who is as timid as I, feels safe in the company of her husband. And am I afraid, accompanied by my Spouse, Who without ever leaving me, is continually at my side and in my heart!" This reflection made such an impression on her mind that it banished every terror, so that from that time she was no longer afraid of anything; and in any appearance of danger, she would say: "Non timebo mala, quoniam Tu mecum es----I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me."
Surius relates of St. Hugo, Bishop of Lincoln, that he was one night grieved and disturbed by the thought of a disaster which he believed to be impending. Then recollecting himself, he smote his breast and said: "Wretch that thou art! God has promised to aid us in all tribulations, and art thou afraid of anything that may happen?"
4. We are firmly convinced that the truths of faith cannot deceive us, and yet we cannot bring ourselves to trust to them; nay, we are far more ready to trust to human reasonings and the deceitful appearance of this world. This, then, is the cause of our slight progress in virtue, and of our small success in what concerns the glory of God.----St. Vincent de Paul
St. Anthony and St. Francis arrived at the highest perfection only by confiding obedience to these words of the Gospel: "If thou wilt be perfect, sell what thou hast, give to the poor, and then follow Me."
5. Both for our own profit and the salvation of others, it is absolutely necessary to follow in everything the bright light of faith, which is accompanied by a certain unction secretly diffused in our hearts. Truly, there is nothing but eternal truth capable of filling our hearts and leading us in a safe path! Believe me, it is enough to be well established upon this Divine foundation, to be sure of quickly reaching perfection, and being able to do great things.----St. Vincent de Paul
St. Philip Neri always prefaced any business of importance by prayer, by means of which he acquired such great confidence in God that he used to say: "As I have time for prayer, I have sure hope of obtaining from the Lord whatever grace I ask of Him; for I rest entirely upon the promise of the Lord, that we shall receive whatever we ask in prayer with lively faith."
It is told of St. Francis that his brother, seeing him barefooted and thinly clothed in the depth of winter, sent a boy to ask him, in mockery, to sell him a drop of his sweat. The Saint replied joyously: "Tell my brother that I have already sold it all to my God and Lord, and at a very good price."
Father d'Avila took a vow of poverty, that he might preach the Gospel more freely, and said that he found great support in this promise of Christ: "Quaerite primum regnum Dei et haec omnia adjicientur vobis----Seek the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you"----for it had never deceived him.
6. O Lord of my soul, who can find words to tell what Thou givest to those who trust in Thee, and how much, on the other hand those lose, who though they may have attained to ecstasies and rapture, yet confide in themselves!----St. Teresa
This Saint said she had known persons eminent in virtue and who had even attained to the prayer of union, who afterwards fell into the power of the demon because of their overweening self-confidence. For when the soul sees herself so near to God and perceives the vast difference between the good things of Heaven and those of earth, and experiences the great love the Lord manifests for her, there springs up from these favors such security of nevermore falling from the happiness she enjoys, that it seems to her impossible that so delightful a life should ever be exchanged for the baseness of sensual delights. With this confidence she begins to expose herself to labors and dangers, without discretion or regard to proportion, not considering that she is not yet in condition to leave the nest and fly, as her virtues are not confirmed and she has no experience of danger.
7. To rely upon our own talents is a cause of great loss. For when a Superior, a preacher or a confessor places confidence in his own prudence, knowledge and intelligence, God, to make him know and see his insufficiency, withdraws from him His help, and leaves him to work by himself. Whence it happens that all his plans and labors produce little or no fruit. This is often the cause why our undertakings fail.----St. Vincent de Paul
This is clearly seen in the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites and the Egyptians. The former placed all their confidence in God, and crossed successfully. The latter placed theirs in their horses, and were drowned. St. Francis de Sales managed all the affairs that God entrusted to him, with success. The cause of this was that he trusted never to his own ability, but wholly to Divine Providence; and he never hoped to succeed in a business if he had any other reliance than this.
St. Philip Neri used to say: "If a person voluntarily puts himself in the way of sin, saying, 'I shall not fall, I shall not commit it,' it is an almost certain sign that he will fall to the ruin of his soul."
8. Let us endeavor to conceive a very great diffidence of ourselves, and to establish ourselves firmly in this virtue; for, of ourselves we are good for nothing, except to spoil the designs of God. This will keep us in entire dependence upon His guidance and make us have recourse constantly to His help.----St. Vincent de Paul
The venerable Father Daponte said of himself that those things that frequently furnish a motive for dejection, such as human frailty, or one's own weakness and sins, rather produced in him a greater confidence, for he fixed his eyes upon the goodness and mercy of God, to Whom he had entirely committed himself and his interests.
St. Vincent, King of Bohemia, was asked how he felt when his army had been routed and he himself had been taken prisoner. He replied: "I never felt more encouraged than I do now. When I was well provided with human aids, I had not time to think of God. Now that I am quite destitute of them all, I think only of God, and that He will not abandon me."
St. Philip Neri exhorted his penitents to follow his example in sometimes saying to God: "O Lord, do not leave anything to me, for if Thou help me not, I shall surely fail"; or, "O Lord, expect nothing from me!" He also said that in speaking of future contingencies, we ought never to say, "I shall do", or "I shall say"; but rather, with humility, "I know what I ought to do or say, but I do not know what I shall do or say."
9. Be careful not to depend or rely much upon the friendship and protection of men. For they cannot sustain us by themselves; and when the Lord sees us leaning upon them, He withdraws from us.----St. Vincent de Paul
This holy man not only refrained from seeking human support, but even refused it when spontaneously offered to him. One day the governor of a city asked his influence at court, in favor of a certain affair, and promised that he would in return protect his missionaries against any who might molest them. But the Saint made this reply: "Whenever I can do it with justice, I will serve you willingly. As for the interests of my Congregation, I beg you to leave them in the hands of God and justice." It was a rule with him not to seek anything by the influence and favor of men.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal was of the same opinion. Her brother, the Archbishop of Bruges, once wrote to her that in an interview he had just had with the Queen of France, she showed a desire for her prayers and those of her Order. He urged her, therefore, to write to the queen, who, he said, would be much pleased with the attention. The same advice was given her by many persons, both inside and outside of the convent; but she would not receive it and wrote to her brother a letter of excuse, begging him to assure the queen that she and all her nuns would not fail to recommend her to the Lord. She spoke of the matter in this way to her Religious: "I cannot and must not do it, for we ought to keep ourselves too much abased and hidden, to seek by human invention to retain a place in the hearts of the great. If we study to do our duty in regard to them before God, by praying for their safety, their prosperity and above all, their salvation, God, Who has undertaken the charge of us, will bring us to their minds when we need their help, and will incline their hearts towards us."
St. Teresa once said: "I am very sure that there is no safety in relying upon men; for they are all like so many stalks of dried rosemary----they break under the least weight of disappointment or contradiction. The true friend in whom alone we can trust is Jesus Christ. When I rely upon Him, I am conscious of such power that I feel able to resist the whole world, were it opposed to me."
10. Whoever manages his affairs with artifices and subterfuges offends the providence of God and renders himself unworthy of His paternal care.----St. Vincent de Paul
This glorious Saint kept always at a distance from all artifice in everything he said and did, and left scheming, as he often said, to the prudent of this world.
The same is true of St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, St. Charles, St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi, Sister Maria Crucifixa and others, as we have elsewhere shown. All of these prospered in their affairs and were much esteemed and favored for their frankness, not only by God, but also by men.
11. When one puts all his care on God, and rests wholly upon Him, being careful, meanwhile, to serve Him faithfully, God takes care of him; and the greater the confidence of such a one, the more the care of God extends over him; neither is there any danger of its failing, for God has an infinite love for those souls that repose in Him.----St. Francis de Sales
The same thing was once said by Our Lord to St. Catherine of Siena: "Think of Me, and I will think of you, and take care of all your interests."
St. Hugo, the Bishop, said that it was his experience that the more he attended to performing well and diligently all that pertained to the worship of God, the more God provided for him in all necessary things.
More than any other, St. Francis manifested, and still manifests, this truth, by the wonderful protection of Divine Providence which he experienced and which sustains his sons even to this day. And so, the Viaticum which he gave his companions when they were going to a distance was this verse of the Psalms: "Jacta super Dominum curam tuam, et ipse te enutriet----Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee." And when the Pope asked him about his means of living, he replied: "Holy Father, we have a mother truly poor, but a very rich Father."
Taulerus relates that a servant of God, being often asked by various persons to pray for different objects, promised to do so, but sometimes forgot----and in such cases these people always obtained what they desired, and came back to thank her. Astonished at this, she said one day to the Lord: "How is it, O Lord, that Thou grantest these favors which I never asked?" And the Lord replied: "See, My daughter, on the day you gave Me your will, I gave you Mine, so that sometimes if you do not ask for a particular thing that I know you would be pleased with, I do it as if you had asked Me."
12. Whoever serves God with a pure heart, and setting aside all individual and human interests, seeks only His glory, has reason to hope for success in all he does, and especially under circumstances when, according to human judgment, there is no help; for the Divine works are above the sight of human prudence, and depend upon a loftier principle.----St. Charles Borromeo
This holy Cardinal was accustomed to have recourse to God in all his affairs, and commenced, continued and completed all his undertakings with prayer. The more arduous and important anything was, the more prayer he gave to it. And if it happened that something appeared not only difficult but even hopeless, he did not recoil in the least, but urged himself forward with greater spirit and redoubled prayers. It was thus that he succeeded, to the wonder of all, in so many great affairs that seemed to human judgment impossible. The Saint was once talking with a person of rank, whom he was trying to persuade to have confidence in God in all circumstances, because He never abandons even in the smallest things those who put their trust in Him; and by way of proof, he related the following incident, which had happened to him a little while before. He said that his house-steward complained of being without money and did not know how to provide for the urgent needs of the house, and therefore requested him to be more sparing in alms and pious works, as it was by expenditure of that kind that the house was reduced to such extremity. But he replied only that he ought to trust in God, and hope for help from His Divine Majesty. This advice failed to satisfy him, and he went away much discontented. Within two hours there arrived a bundle of letters, among which was a bill of exchange for three thousand crowns remitted to the Saint, from Spain. Sending for the steward, he gave them to him, and said: "Take them, O thou of little faith! Behold! the Lord has not abandoned us." He added that this was truly a work of Divine Providence, for he was not expecting such a remittance, nor should it have been sent until two months later.
We read also in the process of his canonization that at the time of the great conflicts with the king's ministers on the question of jurisdiction and on account of the excommunications fulminated against them, the Governor of Milan, with some of the secret council opposed to the Cardinal, often thought of taking rigorous measures against his person, as they knew no other way to hinder him from defending the rights of his Church. But every time that they assembled in the king's council to settle upon something, the thoughts changed in their minds, and the words upon their lips, so that they could come to no resolution against him. They themselves were bewildered and greatly amazed at this, not knowing to what they should ascribe their change of purpose. But doubtless it was the result of his great confidence in God, in reward of which God blessed all his enterprises, removed all obstacles and brought them to a happy ending. It ought, however, to be noticed, as the writer of the Life well observes, that this confidence of the Saint was altogether regulated by Christian prudence. He was most watchful in keeping himself from the vicious extreme of presumption. He never exposed himself to unnecessary dangers, or entertained extravagant plans of little advantage to the service of God and not weighed deliberately and wisely. He employed due diligence and precaution, and on certain occasions he did not refuse human aid, not taking it, however, as his chief reliance, but in subordination to Divine Providence. All this is clearly to be seen in the prudent regulations that he made when the city of Milan was desolated by the plague, and on a thousand other well-known occasions.
13. The pressure of necessity gives occasion to show whether we truly trust in God. Believe me, three strokes will do more than ten ordinarily, if God puts His hand to the work; and He always does when He takes away human help, and obliges us to perform work above our strength.----St. Vincent de Paul
When this Saint was once told by his house-steward that he had not a sou for daily expenses without considering the special ones for approaching ordinations, he replied with a tranquil heart and cheerful face, full of confidence in God: "What good news! Blessed be God! Now is the time to show whether we trust in Him. Oh, how infinite are the treasures of Divine Providence, which we dishonor by our want of trust!"
King Josaphat, finding himself assailed by a great number of enemies, turned to his men and said: "We have no power to resist so many; let us, then, raise our eyes to God, and trust in Him, and all will be well with us." And so, indeed, it was.
14. If a dry stick could possess humility and self-annihilation, and then be chosen to office, God would give it sensitive and intelligent life, rather than permit His servants to be without good government.----St. Jane Frances de Chantal
The story of the Blessed Berengaria, a Poor Clare, furnishes an illustration of this. She lived for a long time in a Portuguese convent, employed in the lowest offices in the kitchen; for, on account of her love of humility, she made herself appear like a peasant and a half-idiot, so that she had become the laughing stock of the Sisters and was considered unfit for anything but the meanest position in the Order. After a time the Abbess died, and all the nuns assembled to choose a successor. They had no decided preference for any of their number, and thought the first ballot would show who was most likely to obtain the place. Each of them, therefore, without informing anyone else, gave her vote to Berengaria, considering that this would afford her the desired opportunity, as she was sure not to be chosen. And so, when the Father presiding at the ceremony had received and read the folded ballots of the nuns, he found that Berengaria had been legally elected. Therefore he bade her, in the name of God, take the seat of the Superioress, to receive from the others, according to custom, the first token of homage. The humble maiden was constrained, though with very great repugnance, to take this position. But still greater repugnance was felt on the part of the nuns, who murmured against such an unexpected election and refused to recognize as their Superior one who was quite inexperienced and wholly unfit for such an office. Seeing this the new Abbess, interiorly moved by the Holy Spirit, turned towards the tomb, there placed in the center of the chapter house, and called upon the dead nuns to rise and render her the prescribed homage, to teach their living sisters what obedience they owed. And behold! the sepulcher instantly opened, and seven nuns came forth, one after another. Kneeling, they offered homage and obedience to Berengaria, and then remained on their knees at her feet, in presence of the whole convent, until she bade them return into the sepulcher and rest in peace, which they reverently did. Amazed and affrighted at this sight, the nuns all threw themselves at the feet of their Mother, humbly asked her pardon for their fault and promised and always observed most perfect submission and obedience to her.
15. When we are to undertake anything for the service of God, after invoking His holy light and discovering His will, though we should employ the human means which we consider necessary and suitable in carrying out the orders of Divine Providence, yet we should not depend on them, but on the Divine assistance alone, and from it expect success, with the firm persuasion that whatever happens will be best for us, whether it appears good or bad according to our individual judgment.----St. Vincent de Paul
This Saint, when someone asked to be remembered in his prayers, once answered thus: "I have been occupied in business all this morning, so I have spent very little time in prayer, and that with many distractions. You may judge how much can be hoped for today from my prayers. But this does not discourage me, for I put my trust in God, not, certainly, in my preparation, nor in all my efforts; for I am sure that the throne of God's goodness and mercy is raised upon the foundation of our miseries."
Whatever business St. Ignatius Loyola undertook, he did everything as if all depended upon himself, and trusted in God as if all depended upon God.
16. In attending to ordinary business and daily needs, we should not allow ourselves to be transported by eagerness and anxiety, but take reasonable and moderate care----and then leave everything completely and entirely to the disposal and guidance of Divine Providence, giving it scope to arrange matters for its own ends, and to manifest to us God's Will. For we may consider it certain that when God wills that an affair should succeed, delay does not spoil it; and the greater part He takes in it, the less will be left for us to do.----St. Vincent de Paul
Before making use of human means, though honorable and necessary, it was the usual custom of this Saint to have recourse to the Divine, and while recommending the matter to God he would remain quiet and wait until God should give it an impulse to His own ends and for His greater glory. He used to say that Providence gives good success to the plans of those who are willing to follow it, and not run in advance of it. For example, when many charitable ladies importuned him to search for some young girls with whom he might lay the foundation of his Congregation of the Sisters of Charity and he found it difficult to meet with suitable ones, he was not at all discouraged, but contented himself with having recourse to God in prayer and waiting until His Providence should deign to reveal to Him some method of providing for this need.
17. So much earnestness and trouble in seeking means and helps to fortify ourselves in advance against the accidents of this life, and to remedy its ills, is a great failure in confidence towards God. For by this going in advance of the order of His providence, we show that we trust more in our own devices than in His holy guidance, and that we rest more upon human prudence than upon His holy word.----St. Vincent de Paul
When Father Alvarez was rector of a poor college, he had a steward who often came to tell him of the daily wants and what was necessary to support the house. Once he asked him whether he had recommended the matter to God. The steward replied that he had no time to pray. "This," rejoined the good Superior, "ought to be the first thing. Go into some room, and make a little prayer to the Lord. Do you think this flock has no master, or such a one as has no regard for their lives? Go in peace, and remember that this depends not on your efforts." The steward obeyed, and often afterwards found means of support which he considered miraculous.
18. When the will of God is clearly seen in any affair, no matter how difficult, it should be undertaken with intrepidity and pursued with constancy even to the end, however many and great may be the obstacles which oppose it. For the providence of God never fails those things that are undertaken by His order.----St. Vincent de Paul
When this Saint had begun an undertaking and felt sure that it was the will of God he never abandoned it for any opposition that might intervene. Instead of becoming disheartened, he only showed the greatest constancy and resolution, the more he was harassed and opposed by creatures.
When St. Charles had weighed any enterprise he was about to commence, prudently and maturely, and judged it good for the service of God----though it might seem to others sure to fail----he began and prosecuted it with great courage, and always with success.
St. Francis de Sales says that St. Jane Frances de Chantal showed a most courageous and generous soul in continuing undertakings with which God had inspired her.
When St. Francis Xavier saw that the honor of God called him, he went without fearing difficulties or dangers of any kind. And so he attempted nothing which he did not continue, and began nothing which he did not pursue to the end.
19. Let us put our confidence in God and establish ourselves in an entire dependence upon His providence. Then we need not fear whatever men can say or do against us, for all will turn to our good. Nay, were all the world to rise against us, nothing would come of it except what was pleasing to God, in whom we have placed our hopes.----St. Vincent de Paul
One of his priests having written to this Saint that plans were on foot to supplant his Congregation and that persons of influence were supporting these evil designs, he gave this reply: "Let us establish and settle ourselves firmly in total dependence upon God's providence, and then not allow our minds to be overshadowed by these useless apprehensions, for nothing will happen contrary to His holy will."
While St. Gregory the Bishop had gone down one night into the choir for Matins, some of his rivals placed a woman in his bed, and after the office made some excuse for accompanying him to his chamber. Then the woman, as had been preconcerted, began to cry out and accuse the Bishop of sacrilege. By this he was disgraced through all the city and condemned to imprisonment by the Pope. But God took care of him, for the holy Apostles Peter and Paul visited and consoled him in his prison, and he performed many miracles. The woman, meanwhile, was possessed and tormented by the devil, until she appeared before a council of bishops and revealed the plot. She was then cured by the Saint, the wicked accusers condemned to the severest penalties, the Bishop exonerated by the Pope, and his holiness publicly declared.
20. Souls that are weak and too much attached to their own reputation make a great stir and commotion, and can have no peace if any calumny is spread against them. It is not thus with generous souls who aim at nothing except to please God. They know very well that He sees their innocence and has it at heart more than they themselves, and therefore He will not neglect to defend them as their greatest good requires.----St. Augustine
In a letter to Monsignor Camus, St. Francis de Sales says: "I hear that they are all tearing me to pieces in Paris, but I hope God will patch me up again as good as new, if it is necessary for His service. I do not care for any more reputation than I need for this. For, provided God be served, what does it matter whether it be by good or evil report, by the exaltation or lowering of our reputation? Let Him dispose of my name and honor as He will, since all is His. And if my abjection increases His glory, ought I not to rejoice in being cast down?" At another time, when an enormous calumny had been invented against him, his friends, seeing that he made no attempt to justify himself, said that he ought to do so because his reputation was most necessary to his ministry. But he told them that the Lord knew how much credit he required for his ministry, and he did not wish for more.
Bishop Palafox, having been accused of maladministration in his office, would not defend himself when an examination into his methods was ordered, but left his cause entirely in the hands of God, saying that He well knew his good intentions and that he expected to be defended by His providence as the glory of God required, whom he desired to serve. And in this way he prospered.
21. When anyone reposes all his confidence in God, God continually exercises a special protection over him, and in this state of things he can be assured that no evil will happen to him.----St. Vincent de Paul
For this reason, St. Vincent de Paul was never cast down or discouraged in all the afflictions, crosses, and vexatious accidents which befell him or his priests; but he remained always full of confidence in God, with a perfect evenness of temper and constant abandonment to Divine Providence. And what is more, he rejoiced to find himself in such difficulties, as they gave him opportunity to exercise a more perfect, absolute and total dependence on the Divine Will.
The Emperor Ferdinand II, hearing some remarks about the bad state of the times, said: "Let us do our part, and then leave ourselves and our affairs to the government of God, who will dispose everything well?' And when any disaster was feared, he would say, "The Lord will provide."
22. When once we have placed ourselves totally in the hands of God, we have no cause to fear misfortune; for if any should come to us, He will know how to make it turn to our good, by ways which we do not know now, but which, one day, we shall know.----St. Vincent de Paul
Two singular events which happened, one to St. Francis de Sales and the other to St. Ignatius Loyola, prove the truth of this statement. When a young secular, St. Francis, once visited Rome, and returning one evening to an inn near the Tiber where he lodged, he found his servants in a dispute with the landlord, who wished them to find some other house, as he hoped to receive more profit from another party whose luggage he had already taken in and for whom he wished to dispossess the holy baron. Nor would the quarrel have ended with angry words alone, if St. Francis, with his usual meekness, had not ordered his servants to do as the landlord wished. He agreed, then, to find another lodging, but scarcely had he done so when a heavy rain swelled the Tiber and made it overflow its banks, causing an inundation which carried away the unhappy inn and all its occupants, so that not one escaped, nor was there a trace left of the building, which had been considered one of the best of its kind in Rome.
When St. Ignatius had arrived in Cyprus on his return from visiting the holy places, he found three vessels ready to sail for Italy. The first belonged to Turkey; the second was a Venetian ship, strong and well equipped, and apparently able to struggle successfully with the most furious gales; the third was a little old boat, leaky and worm-eaten. Many urged the master of the Venetian ship to receive Ignatius on board for the love of God, praising him and extolling him as a Saint. But when the man heard that Ignatius was poor and had no money for his passage, he answered that if Ignatius was a Saint, he did not need a vessel to cross the sea, for he could go on foot, as so many other Saints had done. As he would not receive him, Ignatius was obliged to take the old ship, where they welcomed him freely and with much liberality. The three vessels set sail on the same day; but after they were all well out at sea, in the darkness of the night a fierce tempest arose in which the Turkish ship foundered with all its crew on board, the Venetian ran aground, her passengers barely escaping with their lives, and the old craft alone gained the port. We see in these two examples how the Lord gave His protection to two faithful servants, making use even of the wickedness of men to expel one, and exclude the other, from places doomed to disaster.
It is true that Joseph and Job in the Old Testament suffered great trials, but how incredibly greater were the advantages they derived from them!
23. When we find ourselves in any danger, even a grave one, we ought not to lose courage, but to trust much in the Lord; for where the peril is greater, there also is greater aid from Him who chooses to be called the Helper in dangers and tribulations.----St. Ambrose
St. Ignatius Loyola was once on board a ship in a severe storm when the mast was broken off and all were weeping and trembling in expectation of death. He alone was cheerful and fearless, remembering that the winds and sea obey God and that without His permission, tempests rise not, neither can they sink any ship, and choosing for himself whatever fate God might choose for him.
24. There are some who so cling to their confidence in God that they cannot abandon it even in extreme cases which appear quite hopeless. Oh how dear they are to God, and how much help they receive from Him!
The Emperor Ferdinand II once saw the whole North combined against him. But when he was informed of defeats and of the loss and devastation of provinces, he was not at all disturbed and answered always, "God will deliver me from this tempest." Nor was he mistaken, for when the case appeared desperate he gained a signal victory, by which he discomfited all his enemies.
What could be more desperate than the situation of Susanna, accused, condemned and led out to death? Yet she trusted in the Lord and was set free.
25. Whoever does not lose courage in unexpected difficulties, but immediately has recourse to God with confidence, shows that this virtue is well rooted in his heart.----St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
We read in the Lives of the Fathers that St. Columban, standing one day without any thought of danger, suddenly saw twelve wolves coming up to him. They surrounded him, and finally began to nibble at his garments. He was not, however, at all alarmed, and did nothing but invoke God in these words: "Deus, in adjutorium meum intende. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina," upon which the wolves immediately fled.
The Abbot Theodore was asked whether he should be afraid if he heard on a sudden a loud crash and a terrible tumult. "No," he answered, "if the world should fall in ruins, and earth and sky be blended together, Theodore would not be afraid."
26. The confidence of the Christian soul rests in perfect abandonment to God, above and beyond every consideration of human prudence. Oh, what happiness to walk in this perfect dependence upon a sovereign providence, remaining continually under the Divine protection!----St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Such was the confidence of Abraham, who hoped that his posterity would spread over the whole world, according to the Divine promise, though by the order of God Himself he should sacrifice to Him the life of his only son at a time when he could not expect to have another.
Equally great was that of holy Job, who afflicted in body, bereft of his sons, deprived of his property and ridiculed by his friends, still said, "Though He should slay me, yet will I always hope in Him."
27. Whoever casts himself into the arms of God's providence and allows himself to be ruled, is borne to Heaven in a chariot with all his crosses, so that he scarcely feels their weight. He who acts otherwise goes on foot, dragging them with labor and weariness.----St. Bernard
The Emperor Ferdinand II said of himself: "Trials and troubles would have worn me out long ago, if I had not abandoned all my affairs, and myself as well, to Providence."
In a city of Italy there lived a poor young girl who was bedridden and afflicted by many infirmities; yet, those who visited her found her always cheerful, and even the report of a threatened famine caused her no alarm. Being asked how she kept up her cheerfulness in the midst of so many miseries, she replied that all her thoughts rested upon God; that she was like a little bird under the wings of Divine Providence, and therefore she was neither afraid nor anxious about anything.
28. The servant of God ought to fear nothing and to give himself but little concern even as to the devils themselves; for every time they fail to terrify us they lose strength, and the soul masters them more easily. If the Lord is powerful and they are His slaves, what harm can they do to those who are servants of so great a King and Lord?----St. Teresa
This Saint testifies of herself that she was so timid that she often did not dare to go into a room alone, even inthe day. But finally she began to consider what a shame it was for a soul to be alarmed and affrighted at anything but offending God, when we have so great and powerful a Lord, who rules everything. Then she thought how all creatures, even the devils, are subject to Him, and how she desired to serve this Lord, and aimed at nothing but to please Him and do His will. In conclusion, she said to herself, "What am I afraid of? What do I fear?" and, taking a cross in her hands, she began to challenge the demons, saying, "Come now, all of you, for I am a servant of God: I wish to see what you can do to me!" After that, she said that she felt full of courage, and all her fears vanished; so that though she saw the demons many times afterwards, she had no fear of them at all and it seemed to her, on the contrary, that they feared her, because she felt such superiority over them that she regarded them no more than so many flies.
A servant of God who was much tormented by the devils constantly sang with joy the Psalm, Laudate, pueri Dominum. The devils, being angry at this, increased her torments. But she mocked them, and said: "I count you as nothing, vermin! I have my Lord with me, and do not fear you in the least."
29. Though one should fall into many and grievous sins and imperfections, he ought never to despair of his salvation nor lose confidence in God, for the Divine clemency is infinitely greater than human malice.----St. John Chrysostom
When St. Bernard was severely ill, he had a rapture in which he seemed to be led to judgment and there tempted to despair by the devil, to whom he gave this answer: "I confess that I do not deserve Paradise for my works, for I know that I am unworthy of so great a good. Nevertheless, my Lord has two claims to it----one, that He is the Son of God, the other, that He died upon the Cross. The first is sufficient for Him, and the other He gives to me. For this reason I have hope."
St. Vincent Ferrer was remarkable for his confidence in God, which was strikingly illustrated by the following incident. One day he was informed that a dying man had fallen into despair through considering his great sins, and that he had therefore refused to make his confession. He hastened to his bedside with much hope of winning him over. "My brother," he said to him, "will you who know that Jesus Christ died for you, despair of His mercy? You would thus grievously slight the great kindness He has shown you." These words made the sick man very angry, and he answered, "Just for that I mean to be damned----in spite of Christ!" "And in spite of yourself you shall be saved," replied the Saint. Then, turning to the bystanders, he said: "Let us recite the Rosary to the Blessed Virgin, to obtain from her the conversion of this most obstinate sinner." The Lord was pleased to show how acceptable to Him was the generous confidence of His servant, for before the Rosary was ended, the room was filled with a brilliant light, and the great Mother of God appeared with the Infant upon her arm all stained with blood. The hardened sinner was moved with love, grief, and compunction at this sight. He made his confession with heartfelt contrition and a little while after, with a look of heavenly joy upon his face, breathed forth his spirit into the hands of God.
Blosius relates of St. Gertrude that she was one day considering which, of the many things she had learned from the Lord, she might most usefully reveal to men, when she heard His voice in her heart speaking in this manner: "It would be of the greatest use to them to know and remember that I am continually interceding before My Father for their salvation, and that as often as they stain their hearts through human frailty by evil thoughts, I offer to Him in expiation My most pure heart; and when they commit sinful deeds, I offer to Him My pierced hands; and so, however they err, I instantly seek to appease the Divine Father, that they may obtain pardon on their repentance."
30. Finally, if we wish to perform our actions well and to provide for all our needs, we ought from time to time to look to God in imitation of the example of navigators, who direct their course to the point they seek rather by looking upwards to the sky than downwards where they are floating.
To prove the truth of this sentiment, it is sufficient to cast a glance upon the example of so many Saints already cited for this month, without referring to any new ones.
31. We have yet to speak of the confidence to be practiced in temptations and spiritual aridity. But since this is a point of the highest importance, which cannot be treated briefly, it seems more desirable to make it the subject of a separate treatise which will afford much consolation and help to those who suffer from such trials.