Our sanctification is God's aim in all His dealings with us. What would He not do for His own honor and our good if we would only let Him! The heavens make no resistance to the spirits that guide them and their motion is magnificent, orderly and useful; they declare aloud the glory of God and preserve order in the universe by their influence and the invariable succession of day and night. If they resisted this guidance and instead of following the motion set for them they followed a different one, they would soon fall into the utmost confusion and destroy the world. It is the same when the will of man lets itself be guided by God's will. Then all that is in this microcosm, this "little world," all the faculties of the soul and members of the body are in the most perfect harmony and regular motion. But man quickly loses all these advantages and falls into the utmost confusion once he opposes his will to God's and turns aside from it.
In the same way that virtue is ennobled and perfected by the love of God, "so likewise" says Rodriguez following St. Chrysostom, "the highest, purest and most excellent part of this love is absolute conformity to the divine will and having in all things no other will but God's." For, as theologians teach with Pseudo-Dionysius and St. Jerome, "the chief effect of love is to unite the hearts of those who love each other so that they have the same will." Hence the more we submit to God's designs for us, the more we advance towards perfection. When we resist we go backwards.
"Whoever makes a habit of prayer" says the great St. Teresa of Avila, "should think only of doing everything to conform his will to God's. Be assured that in this conformity consists the highest perfection we can attain, and those who practice it with the greatest care will be favored by God's greatest gift and will make the quickest progress in the interior life. Do not imagine there are other secrets. All our good consists in this."
It is related of Blessed Stephanie of Soncino, a Dominican nun, that she was one day carried in spirit to Heaven to see the happiness of the saints. She saw their souls mingling with the choirs of angels according to each one's degree of merit, and noticed among the Seraphim several persons she had known before their deaths. Having asked why these souls were raised to such a high degree of glory, she was told it was because of the conformity and perfect union of their will with God's while they lived on earth. Now, if this conformity to the will of God raises souls to the highest degree of glory in heaven among the Seraphim, it must be concluded that it raises them on earth to the highest degree of grace and on it is founded the highest perfection man can attain.
Since it is the most perfect act of charity and the most pleasing and acceptable sacrifice that is given to man to offer to God, there can be no doubt that whoever practices entire submission to His will lays up inestimable treasures at every moment and amasses more riches in a few days than others are able to acquire in many years and with great labor. To remain indifferent to good fortune or to adversity by accepting it all from the hand of God without questioning, not to ask for things to be done as we would like them but as God wishes, to make the intention of all our prayers that God's will should be perfectly accomplished in ourselves and in all creatures is to find the secret of happiness and content. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him says the Psalmist, He hears their cry and saves them. The Lord keeps all who love him.3 And again: We know that for those who love God all things work together unto good.4
The conforming of our will to God's is not limited to the attainment of our eternal salvation. It also has the effect of making us happy on this earth. It will give us the most perfect peace it is possible to experience in life and is the means of making this world a foretaste of heaven.
O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! God said to Israel, Thy peace had been as a river.1 Eliphaz, one of Job's three friends, likewise says to him: Come to terms with him to be at peace... for then you shall delight in the Almighty and you shall lift up your face towards God.2 It is this that the angels sang at the birth of our Savior: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.3 Who are these men of good will but those whose wills are in harmony with the supremely good will of God? A will that is otherwise disposed must necessarily be a bad will, incapable of obtaining the peace promised to men of good will.
In order for us to enjoy peace and calm we need to have nothing opposing our will and everything done in the way we want it. But who can expect to have such happiness except the man whose will is entirely conformed to the will of God? Remember the former age for I am God and there is no God besides.... Who show from the beginning the things that shall be at last, and from ancient times the things that as yet are not done, saying: My counsel shall stand, and all my will shall be done.4 Every will that tries to oppose the will of God is bound to be overcome and broken, and instead of peace and happiness its effort can only end in humiliation and bitterness. God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has withstood him and remained unscathed?5 He, and he alone, whose will is perfectly united to God's possesses the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.6 He alone can say with God Himself all my will shall be done, because wishing all that God wishes and only what God wishes, his wishes are always fulfilled and nothing can happen that he does not wish.No harm befalls the just,7 or disturbs the serenity of his mind, for if he has exactly what he wishes, he cannot be unhappy in spite of himself. It is obvious that unhappiness comes not from what others feel but from what we feel ourselves. Whatever our situation is, we must be happy if we are just as we wish to be. Certainly we will still feel pain and sorrow, but they affect us only in the lower part of our being without being able to influence the mind. Obedient and resigned to the will of His Father, our Savior did not cease to be filled with the utmost joy and happiness in the midst of the most grievous sufferings it is possible to imagine.
It cannot be denied however that human nature finds the idea of suffering, humiliation, even poverty, almost incompatible with the idea of happiness, so that it is really a miracle of grace when we can be happy in such circumstances. But this miracle always mercifully accompanies the sacrifices of one who seeks to do the will of God in all things, for it is to God's honor and glory that those who give themselves generously to His service should be content with their lot.
It may perhaps be asked how it is possible to reconcile this with the words of Christ: If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.8 If in this place our divine Master requires His disciples to deny themselves and carry His cross after Him, elsewhere He promises solemnly to give them not only life everlasting but a hundredfold all things they deny themselves to please Him in this life.9 He further promises to ease the burden of His cross so as to lighten it; for He not only says that His yoke is sweet but adds that His burden is light.10 If then we do not experience the sweetness of Christ's yoke nor the lightness of the burden of the cross, it must be because we have not yet made the denial of our will and completely given up our human outlook so as to consider things in the light of faith.
This divine light would enable us to give thanks to God in all things 11 as we are taught by St. Paul He requires of us. It would be for us the beginning of that great joy that the Apostle urges us to have always.12