We are reminded in chapter 22 that “de Caussade says ‘we cannot enjoy true peace unless we submit to God’s will'”. This statement brings us back to previous chapters; if we do not trust in God’s will for us, we are not living in the present moment. We fail to find peace because we are stuck in the past or distraught over the future. Failure and suffering are obstacles if we can’t accept or understand that God allows ‘evil’ or removes our blessings because it is through suffering that we can better our relationship with Him. We aren’t being punished. God isn’t cruel. But we need these humbling circumstances or events to keep our perspective in proper order and to focus on, depend on, and hope in Him rather than ourselves. These circumstances can bring us nearer to God if we allow them to do so. We must trust. We must have faith. As Kreeft informs us, failure is necessary lest we become filled with false pride. Carry out your daily duties and accept what God sends your way, no matter how monotonous, repugnant or difficult. Even the most ordinary of duties are a path to holiness if we can simply trust that God is enough.
Questions for thought:
- Does failure, suffering, or evil draw you closer to or further from God?
- Why do you think that trusting in God’s will for us is so critically important to becoming holy?
- Have you experienced something you considered to be tragic that helped your relationship with God? Can you share how?
- What ordinary daily duty can you use to grow closer to God and how?
In Chapter 30, Kreeft reminds us that God alone is enough to satisfy all of our needs. This is the same lesson learned by Job. After all his losses and suffering, Job was left with just God and Job realized that God was all he needed. For, as Kreeft points out, “if God alone is not enough to satisfy all the desires and needs of our heart, then God is not God.” We get it that our possessions can be obstacles to our relationship with God, but Kreeft is also saying that is true in other areas. This is the hard part! We are often willing to let go of the “things” of our lives…it’s just stuff, but what about the people in our lives? They are important! They are loved! They are cherished! Aquinas says that friendships are necessary for happiness in this life, but not in heaven! Saint Teresa says, “God alone suffices!” However, in our journey to become a Saint, it is always important to remember that with God, the more one seems to lose, the more one actually gains! God replaces what is natural with that which is supernatural. One of the beautiful and comforting lines we use in the Rite of Christian Burial is, “we believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death.” Not only do they not unravel, these relationships are perfected in eternal life! The challenge is for us to embrace the truth that God alone is all we need and, in doing so, we gain so much more.
Some other points that would be great for discussion from these chapters are:
- Chapter 23 – “All our failures, except one, are part of His perfect plan and, therefore, part of our perfect success. The only failure that is not is the final refusal of God’s love and mercy.”
- Chapter 24 – “…if you want to give God a good laugh, tell Him your plans.”
- Chapter 29 – We try so hard to become holy, but is that the wrong approach? “Grace is another name for love, undeserved love. Grace is God’s activity, and as de Caussade says “Only God’s activity can make us holy.” Our job is to be receptive to that grace!
– Deacon Ralph
Please share your thoughts on the questions above or any other comments you have after reading these chapters!