If we have through our own fault stopped the flow of divine favors, let us at once remove the cause of the evil. If our conscience can find nothing to reproach us with, let us adore with humble confidence the holy will of God. And while awaiting the moment of His providence, let us endeavor with redoubled zeal to sanctify the trial and to prepare ourselves for new graces. So long as we are faithful to the practice, our state of prayer may indeed spear at a standstill; but in reality our faith is growing more luminous and all the virtues are gathering strength, particularly love, confidence, and abandonment. –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey ‘Holy Abandonment’
Peace of soul is a supremely desirable possession, not alone because of the sweetness it contains, but also and much more on account of the strength it imparts, and the favorable conditions in which it places us. It is almost indispensable to one who proposes to live an interior life. So, in Sacred Scripture the Lord wills to be the God of peace. Our Sweet Savior, at His birth, caused the angels to sing, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.” Very often, when He showed Himself to His disciples after His Resurrection. He addressed them with the touching salutation: “Peace be with you.” His apostles adopted the same practice at the beginning of their Epistles. And the Holy Spirit Himself invites us to “seek after peace and pursue it”.
But if there is a good peace, there is also an evil peace. The true peace is the tranquility of right order. To attain it, we must have order in our thoughts, in our affections, in our volitions, in our actions and sufferings. That is to say, our wills must always be submissive to the will of God by obedience and resignation. Otherwise there shall be disorder and the opposite of peace. For “who hath resisted the Lord and hath peace?”, namely holy peace.
False peace is the tranquility found in lukewarmness or sin. “There is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord”: no true peace. God shows great mercy to sinners when he torments them with the stings of remorse in order to arouse them from the fatal lethargy. Their worst misfortune would be to remain tranquil in their sins. The same, with due proportion, can be said to the tepid soul. She can never enjoy true and profound peace; for her will is not altogether a good will and is dragged in opposite directions by too many unmortified passions. Should she make herself easy in such state, it would be an alarming sign: it would mean that she is beginning to be affected with spiritual blindness, that her heart is growing hard and her conscience drowsy. –Abbot Vitals Lehodey “Holy Abandonment’
The first malady requiring to be cured is a spiritual gluttony which seizes on consolations with insatiable avidity, a refined sensuality which finds it most delicate aliments in the sweetness of devotion. God now comes and puts the invalid on a diet, and if necessary on a starvation regime, in order to weaken and extinguish this evil by the withdrawal of its nourishment, and in order that the soul may learn in time to dispense with enjoyment, to seek God purely, and to be less dependent on the emotions. –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey ‘Holy Abandonment’
“Perhaps you also desire,” he says, “this happy repose of contemplation, and you do well. Only be sure not to forget the flowers which should adorn the bed of the Bridegroom. The practice of virtues ought to precede contemplation repose as the flower precedes the fruit. Renounce your own will. If your soul is covered with the weeds and nettles of disobedience, how can He give Himself unreservedly to you. Who loves obedience to such a degree that he preferred death to the loss of it? There’s some here whom I cannot understand. They have troubled us by their singularities, grieved us by their impatience, despised us by their obstinacy; all day long they are a source of annoyance to their brother and a menace to the peace of the house. And nevertheless they have the impudence, by insistent prayer, to invite God of all purity to take His repose in their sin soiled hearts! No, your bed is not decorated with flowers, it is malodorous. Set about purifying your conscience from every defilement of anger, murmuring, quarreling and envy. Make haste to exclude from your heart whatever you find there opposed to the peace of the community or to the obedience you owe superiors. Then surround yourself with the flowers of every good action, every good desire, and perfume your soul with the sweet scent of the virtues. Whatsoever is true, whatsoever is chaste, whatsoever just, holy, amiable, of good repute, everything that appertains to virtue and discipline meditate on all these things and cultivate them….” Abbot Vitalis Lehodey from ‘Holy Abandonment’ quoting St Bernard of Clairvaux
In short, all our undertakings for the glory of God require His action and ours. “Our part is to plant and to irrigate well, with the assistance of grace, but it is for God to give the increase.” –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey
Not alone must we be careful to preserve purity of intention in all our enterprises, but we must also firmly attach ourselves to our duty…to the sole will of God, and we must make ourselves virtuously indifferent to failure or success. On the one hand, we are reasonably sure that God wills this work for us at the moment; but, on the other hand, we never know what His future intentions may be. “Very often, in order to exercise us in holy indifference (even as to what regards His service) He inspires us with noble undertakings, the success of which, however, He does not will.” Thus, Providence appears to be playing with us. But the play is for us very profitable, indeed, since we always win even whilst losing. For we derive from it, God so arranging, the merit of our pious intentions, the merit of our conscientious labour, and the merit of a trial patiently endured. On the other hand, perhaps success would have occasioned the loss of our humility, our detachment, and of other virtues besides. “Nevertheless, we must not allow such considerations to paralyze our efforts or to diminish our zeal. We must neglect nothing that is required for the success of the enterprise which God has placed in our hands; but at the same time we are to be so disposed that should it issue in failure, we shall support the disappointment with meekness and calm. –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey ‘Holy Abandonment’
We must not, however, desire temptations, despite the great advantages to be drawn from them; for they are actual incitements to evil and consequently a danger to our souls. Rather we must implore of God to preserve us from them, particularly from those to which He foresees we should succumb. Nevertheless…we should be resigned to endure temptation, if such be God’s good pleasure; but at the same time we should be resolved to overcome it. Then, without ever losing courage, we should put our trust in God, abandon ourselves to His sweet Providence, and fear nothing. Let us pray, let us struggle; and, since it is He who exposes us to the combat, He will never forsake us or permit us to fall. –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey “Holy Abandonment’