“We can promise lightly enough to give up our will to somebody else, but when it comes to the test we shall find it the most difficult thing in the world to do thoroughly.”

St. Teresa of Avila

On Sunday, I read the daily meditation in the Magnificat and I have been thinking about it all week. It said, in part: “The first means of attaining virtue, which seems the most easy, and is in reality the most difficult, is to will it; but with a sincere, entire, efficacious and constant will.  And oh how rare is this good will!  We imagine we will a thing, but in truth and reality we do not will it at all.  We may have desires, longings, purposes, wishes; but that is not having a strong and determined will.  We wish to be devout, but in our own way up to a certain point, and provided it does not cost us too much.  We wish, and we are contented with wishing.  We do not carry our wishes into practice . . . we wish today perhaps; we begin bravely, but alas! our energies are soon relaxed. . .” – Fr. Jean-Nicolas Grou, SJ

Last Wednesday, we finished the third and final Ambassadors Training. I had the pleasure of hearing Fr. Mark McCormick and Deacon Sass three times as we traveled in the Diocese and presented and each time Fr. Mark talked about the importance of action.  Our love for the Lord impels us to action.  As Jesus says in the Gospel, “Not all that say Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven.”  (Matt 7:21)  This seems to echo Fr. Grou’s words, that often we say God is Lord, but then we don’t act as if he is.  We wish it, we don’t will it.

Often times I sense that my actions are not matching up with my words.  In the morning, I give my whole day to the Lord.  I tell Him I want to do His will, to do all He wills and to avoid anything that is not His will.  And in that moment I believe I truly desire to do so.  But then I leave the chapel and like Fr. Grou warns, life quickly “relaxes my energies”.  I get distracted.  I get busy. I realize later that I have failed to notice others or that I have been impatient. I fail to listen to the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit. It is easy to become discouraged.

But today the Lord encouraged me with this quote from the book Five Loaves and Two Fishes: “You are my God and my all . . . . If I wait for an opportune moment to do something truly great, how many times will such occasions actually present themselves? No, I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day.  I must accomplish ordinary actions, in an extraordinary way.”  I think Venerable Francis Van Thuan understood how to develop this “sincere, entire, efficacious, and constant will.”  I love his bold and zealous desire to seize ordinary occasions and use them as an opportunity to be extraordinary.  His words  remind me of Mother Teresa’s, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”  I am inspired by his courage to seek ways to continue to work for God’s Kingdom and to do His will while a prisoner of the Communist regime hostile to his faith.  If he can do it there, should not we be able to in MUCH easier circumstances?  Venerable Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, pray for us!

 

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