Can We Be Saints? Part V - God in His Works
by Frank Duff
continued from Part IV - Weapons and Aids
All Things are but Signposts that Point to God
We have been considering at some length methods of serving God. Let us try to remember they are only methods. There is always a tendency for the interest of any work to absorb us so that we forget why and for Whom we began it.
It is natural that this should happen. The work is visible; the supernatural is not; and we unthinkingly allow the visible things to push the supernatural into the background of our lives. This takes from the value of all our acts as offerings to God.
Instead, a little thoughtfulness would turn those very things which were inclined to lead us away from God, into visible reminders of His presence in the world.
When we see a Church, even though it is only a spire in the distance, it induces a feeling of reverence at the thought of His Presence with us in the Eucharist. But then Churches are rare. We want that feeling of reverence over all our life. We can make it habitual if we cultivate the practice of seeing Him in all things.
In the beginning He created all things from nothing. But he did not then cease to work. It requires His omnipotent power to keep all these things there now. Were His Hand removed this second from any object we see, it would at once disappear from our vision into its original nothingness.
Thus everything we see should tell us that God's Hand is upon it. A sense of awe should fill us to think that we can touch what He is touching. The waving leaves on the trees tell us of the presence of the breeze which we do not see. Why not make trees and leaves and wind, and all else around us, speak plainly to us of the wonderful Power which holds them in existence?
We pick up an insect, or a flower, or bread, or a book. Each one proclaims Him to the thoughtful mind.
St. Bonaventure said of St. Francis of Assisi that he made everything in nature a step in the ladder by which he went to Heaven. He loved the very stones beneath his feet because there were the works of his Creator.
All the Saints saw without effort God in His works. Everything was a cause of prayer to them. But there was a time when they were only beginners as we are. They persevered; shall we?
You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in You
In considering God in His works around us, we are not to forget His presence in ourselves.
It is of Catholic doctrine that the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling in anyone who is free from mortal sin. Life would be greatly brightened if we could bring home to ourselves this wonderful truth.
How could we ever again feel sorrowful, or lonely, or think ourselves poor!
If we consider God in His heavenly Kingdom, we are apt to think of Him as at a great distance. We know Him as a loving Father, but this sense of remoteness diminishes the sense of His protection. Rather let us think of Him living in each of us -- giving our hearts their beat and listening to our inmost thoughts.
Look at the great Sun blazing in the sky with enough light and heat for the entire world. He Who made it is within us with a Glory infinitely greater.
There is holiness in the very thought of this; and the idea of sin as something that will drive out this Divine Tenant acquires a clearer and more repulsive meaning.
Heaven and Earth are Full of Thy Glory
The greatness and the loveliness of God, being infinite, cannot while we live be measured by us. We can only feebly search after an idea of them by representing to ourselves the pick and cream of what we know, and then trying to raise our minds above that.
Take from what is around, all that is delightful, mighty, pure, exquisite, glorious. Gaze upon them, and their beauty takes the very breath away. But their beauty is only the shadow of His Beauty.
In the light of this truth, will not the delicate flower, or sky tinted with splendour, speak to us with a new meaning? Before, we admired them for what they are; now rather, let us reverence them for what they suggest.
God's Dealing with Men
His goodness is equally beyond our comprehension. Our Lord's life on earth, or the Host and Chalice lifted up in the Mass, should give us an idea of the depth of the love He has for each individual one of us, however wretched.
We are being dealt with in a princely way. One of the first results of our increases in holiness will be the gradual realisation of the wonderful goodness which is lavished upon us from morning until night. We grumble at the apparent afflictions and punishments that come to us, though each one of them bears, as the saying is, a jewel in its head. We are blind to the fact that nothing which is the bearer of a blessing can really be punishment at all.
God is good . . . Let this be the great thought whenever the shadows thicken. There is nothing from Him which is not kind -- though it may seem hard. Whether it is one of those things that people dread most, such as death, or cancer, or bankruptcy; or only a headache, we may be sure it is for the best. There is some hidden mercy in it. God is good... God is so good.
Trust as a Characteristic of the Saints
In this spirit of trusting faith did the Saints receive whatever came to them. Aware that they were enfolded in the arms of a loving Providence, it was equally a cause of thanks to them whether they were cradled to the left or to the right.
This holy spirit is not beyond imitation by all, for we see it in the poor of our day. The greatest calamity is met with fortitude. "There is no Cross but breaks a heavier," they will observe. and then -- even though the tears are falling fast -- "God's will be done; welcome be the Holy Will of God."
We must follow the holy ones of all times in this childlike confidence, this perfect knowledge that He is their Good Father.
Our Love for Him
Our hearts were made to hold the biggest and the purest of loves. For nothing less than this did God intend them. It is dishonouring such vessels to keep in them a love based only on motives of reward or punishment, wholesome though these are. So let us try to send our love for the Good Shepherd to summits far above such thoughts of self, and love Him... "not that in Heaven we may reign... not to escape eternal pain... nor in the hope of gain"... but for Himself, and that we may satisfy with something clean that great love of His which craves for our love.
And as this pure love strengthens in our hearts, it will soon, like the eagle, grow impatient even of the mountain peaks, and hunger after heights of heights, till -- with the Little Flower -- we will cry out in longing: "Jesus! . . . Jesus! . . . I would so wish to love you... Iove you as you never yet have been loved.!'
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Frank Duff is the founder of the Legion of Mary
. "Can we be Saints" is the first pamphlet he published aged 27 and is reproduced with permission of the Legion of Mary. All rights reserved.