An Obedient Will

St Francis of Assisi, Miracle of the Crucifix by Giotto di Bondone

St. Francis de Sales encourages the cultivation of a will that is wholly obedient to God and trusts in Divine Providence:

“There are two kinds of wills: one says, ‘I would like very much to do good, but it costs a disagreeable effort; it is too difficult’; the other says: ‘I desire indeed to do good; the will is not wanting, but the power alone stops me.’ The first fills hell, the second paradise.”

“Be careful to purify your heart more and more each day. Now, this purity consists in weighing everything in the scales of the sanctuary, which are only the will of God.”

“If I want only pure water, what does it matter whether it be brought me in a vase of gold or glass? What is it to me whether the will of God be presented to me in tribulation or consolation, since I desire and seek only the divine will?”

“A heart indifferent to all things is like a ball of wax in the hands of God, capable of receiving all the impressions of his eternal good pleasure. It does not place its love in the things which God wills but in the will of God which decrees them.”

St John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Consider this example of an obedient will: “St. John the Baptist, through obedience, kept himself absent from our Saviour, knowing well that to seek our Saviour outside of obedience was to lose Him.”

“We need not be troubled because we are weak, if by trusting in the power and mercy of God we never lose courage. . . . I would rather be weak than strong before God, for He takes the weak in his arms, and the strong He leads by the hand.”

Thus, St. Francis exhorts: “Let us adore and bless his will in all things.”

Quotations from Maxims and Counsels of St. Francis de Sales, trans. Ella McMahon (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son, 1884).

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