Friday, February 15, 2008

Unanswered Prayer...?

Herewith some excerpts from the writings of St. Claude de la Colombière on trustful surrender to Divine Providence.

It is a strange fact that though Christ repeatedly and solemnly promised to answer our prayers, most Christians are continually complaining that He does not do so. We cannot account for this by saying that the reason is because of the kind of things we ask for, since He included everything in His promise -- All things whatsoever you shall ask. Nor can we attribute it to the unworthiness of those who ask, for His promise extended to everybody without exception -- Whoever asks shall receive. Why is it then that so many prayers remain unanswered? Can it be that as most people are never satisfied, they make such excessive and impatient demands on God that they tire and annoy Him by their importunity? The case is just the opposite. The only reason why we obtain so little from God is because we ask for so little and we are not insistent enough.

Christ promised on behalf of His Father that He would give us everything, even the very smallest things. But He laid down an order to be observed in all that we ask, and if we do not obey this rule we are unlikely to obtain anything. He tells us in St. Matthew: Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice and all these things shall be given to you besides.

We are not forbidden to wish for money, material well-being and whatever is necessary to maintain us in our position in life, but we must wish for these things in their proper order. If we want our desires in this respect to be met without fail we must first of all ask for the larger things, so that while granting them He may also add the smaller ones....

If then this is the order God observes in the distribution of His benefits, we must not be surprised if our prayers have so far been unsuccessful. I confess that I am often moved to pity when I see the eagerness of some people in giving alms, making vows of pilgrimage and fasting, or having Masses said for the success of their temporal affairs. I am afraid the prayers they say and get said are of little use. They should make their offerings and vow their pilgrimages to obtain from God the amendment of their lives, the gift of Christian patience, contempt for the things of the world and detachment from creatures. Then afterwards they could pray for return of health or success in business. God would then answer these prayers, or rather He would anticipate them; it would be enough to know their desires for Him to fulfill them....

What has been said of benefits can also be said of the ills from which we wish to be delivered....You have secret ills far greater than the ills you complain of, but you do not ask Him to deliver you from them. If for this purpose you had said half the prayers you have said to be healed from your outward ills, God would have delivered you from both a long time since....It would be hating you, not loving you, to take away your cross before giving you the virtues you lack. If God found some desire in you for these virtues He would give you them without delay, and it would be unnecessary for you to ask for other things.

It is clear then that we do not receive anything because we do not ask enough. God could not give us little, He could not restrict His liberality to small things without doing us grave harm....I am not saying that we offend God if we ask for temporal benefits or to be freed from misfortune. Obviously prayers of this kind can rightly be addressed to Him by making the condition that they are not contrary to His glory or our eternal salvation. But as it is hardly likely that it would redound to His glory for Him to answer them, or to our advantage to have them answered if our wishes end there, it must be repeated that as long as we are content with little we run the risk of obtaining nothing.

Let me show you a good way to ask for happiness even in this world. It is a way that will oblige God to listen to you. Say to Him earnestly: Either give me so much money that my heart will be satisfied, or inspire me with such contempt for it that I no longer want it. Either free me from poverty, or make it so pleasant for me that I would not exchange it for all the wealth in the world. Either take away my suffering, or -- which would be to Your greater glory -- change it into delight for me, and instead of causing me affliction, let it become a source of joy. You can take away the burden of my cross, or You can leave it with me without my feeling its weight. You can extinguish the fire that burns me, or You can let it burn in such a way that it refreshes me as it did the three youths in the fiery furnace. I ask You for either one thing or the other. What does it matter in what way I am happy? If I am happy through the possession of worldly goods, it is You I have to thank. If I am happy when deprived of them, it gives You greater glory andmy thanks are all the greater.

This is the kind of prayer worthy of being offered to God by a true Christian. When you pray in this way, do you know what the effect of your prayers will be? First, you will be satisfied whatever happens;.... Secondly, you will not only obtain without fail one of the two things you have asked for but, as a rule, you will obtain both of them. God will give you the enjoyment of wealth, and so that you may possess it without the danger of becoming attached to it, He will inspire you at the same time with contempt for it. He will put an end to your sufferings and even more He will leave you with a desire for them which will give you all the merit of patience without having to suffer. In a word, He will make you happy here and now, and lest your happiness should do you harm, He will let you know and feel the emptiness of it. Can one ask for anything better? But if such a great blessing is well worth being asked for, remember that still more is it worth being asked for with insistence. For the reason why we obtain little is not only because we ask for little but still more because, whether we ask a little or we ask a lot, we do not ask often enough.

BY THE WAY: Today, February 15th, is the feast of St. Claude de la Colombière. I didn't realize this at the time I felt the urge to post the above; and the post had been up for some time before I did realize it.

1 comment:

  1. I love the way God works, although I don't always understand. In fact, often I don't understand.

    I posted on this, but I'll give you a synopsis: Last week, after giving a presentation to the parents of the First Communicants, I realized that Father's offer earlier in the year to train us (his staff) to be EMHC's might be proper, although I've not felt called to it.

    Well, I went to Jesus in the chapel and told Him that if Father asks me to do something (with the EMHC thing in mind), I will take it as an invitation/directive from the Lord Himself, and I will be obedient. God's will be done. That was my fiat.

    The next day I spoke with Father about an upcoming Benediction we've been planning, and he mentioned the need for Alter Servers. Of course! Before I said anything more, Father told me, "Well...YOU can ring the bells!"

    Huh! But I'm a woman!

    I told him I'd get a list of kids who might be trained, and immediately ran to get the class list. The very idea of me in an alb! No way!

    Well, as it is, there are no kids trained for that particular class session, and Father doesn't have time before then. He reiterated that I could do it, and I realized that he expects me to do so, and that he really didn't understand my hesitancy. So I said yes, train me, and I will do it.

    Well, I went to Adoration with this...I don't think there should be altar girls, and now I'm going to be an altar woman?

    That's when I remembered my prayer...obedience was called for. This WAS the answer to my prayer, and it was not what I expected.

    So I realized that I must do this, no matter what I think about it. That evening I went to the classrooms to talk to the students, and a girl server offered to serve at that session as she would be there, anyway. Certainly I accepted! And the next day I told Father that he didn't have to train me as he had a server.

    He looked disappointed! So I of course addressed this and he really wants 2 servers, and so I told him that I would do whatever he asks me to do.

    So, this week, I will be an altar server...with a teenage girl. Not part of my plan, but God's. And it has nothing to do with liberal/conservative, but this time, it's a call from God himself for some purpose. And just as an FYI, Father is very conservative, so I believe that he is placing the elements of the Benediction and the need to have servers above the sex of the servers. And I respect that.

    Please pray for me..I'm very nervous about this, although happy to serve Christ in this way.

    I just never thought He would ask me to do THAT! LOL!