TAKEN FROM THE SERVANT OF THE SACRED HEART
Fr. George O'Neill, S.J.
With Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1933
UNBOUNDED CONFIDENCE IN GOD
(1298, 1304, 1305-1307)
MEN engage themselves to us in various manners, whether to do something or to give something: they pledge something ---- their honor in a simple promise, their conscience in a solemn oath, their property in tangible securities, finally their very liberty and lives in a surrender of their own persons until such time as they shall redeem their promise. In all these ways God [and His Son our Savior Jesus Christ] have bound Themselves to us ---- bound Themselves to assist us in all our needs, to protect us in all our dangers, to grant us all that we shall expect and ask from Their bounty. But I maintain, my brethren, that, even were this not so, the mere fact of our confidence in God is a sufficiently strong reason to engage Him to us in these various ways. There are two reasons to persuade us of this. The first is that we cannot pay a higher honor to God than when we expect all manner of good from Him; the second, that God cannot disappoint such an expectation on our part without dishonoring Himself.
The first reason seems clearly expressed in words spoken by God through the lips of the Psalmist: "Call upon Me in the day of tribulation, saith the Lord; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me." How shall we glorify the Almighty? We shall glorify Him by our trust in Him: we shall give Him the very highest honor by believing firmly that He is truthful in His words, enlightened as to our needs, tender and compassionate towards our wants, powerful to execute in our favor wonders surpassing the power of creatures, wise to accomplish His ends by gentle and easy ways unknown to human prudence, faithful in coming to our aid, promptly, constantly and unweariedly, generous in His bestowal of what we pray for, and, in fine, so merciful that our sins do not arrest the downflow upon us of His mercies. All Christians are supposed to believe in the truth of these propositions; but surely there is an immense difference in the firmness and intensity with which they are held and realized by one soul and by another!
A man really full of confidence in God believes them so that their influence is constantly manifested in his conduct. On his belief he is prepared to risk everything; or rather he has no sense of any risk while he looks to God as his support, refuge and strength. In the prayer taught us by our Lord we address God as Our Father; it is easy and common for us so to invoke Him; but do we use the words with attention, with a full acceptance of what they signify? To consent to depend in every situation on His paternal Providence, to await His help, even in the most trying situations, to rely upon His promises far more than upon any human help, to sleep, so to speak, in His arms in the midst of the most violent storms ---- this is to have a true faith in God as Our Father, this is to believe in God with a faith conformable to His infinite greatness.
The second reason why our confidence in God binds Him so strongly to us is that it would be dishonorable to God Himself if He were to fall short in His liberality of what our confidence has led us to expect from Him. That the confident trust of a creature should have surpassed the generosity of the All-Powerful, that a human creature should find the Divine goodness falling short in effect of what he had supposed it to be; would not this be a stain on the name of the Most High; would it not be something inconceivable in God? So much so that we find the Fathers of the Church teaching that our hope is the measure of the graces we receive from the Divine Treasury. St. Thomas says that hope is for us the principle of impetration just as charity is the principle of merit: in other words, as we merit in proportion to the charity that inspires our actions, so we obtain favors in proportion to the confidence that inspires our petitions. And still more notable is the sentiment of St. Gregory Nazianzen, namely, that to every soul that has prayed God is engaged by gratitude to give in return what has been asked for [or else some gift more really desirable]; that it is not so much a favor He bestows as an acknowledgment of a favor He has received.'1 How, then, could this good Father suffer a child who honors Him so highly to be confounded; how can He refuse us His protection when we cannot better glorify Him than by asking for His protection?
O my God, so assured do I feel that Thou dost watch over those who hope in The and that nothing can be lacking to those who expect everything from Thee, that I am resolved to live in future without anxiety and to rest the burthen of my cares upon Thee. "In peace I will lie down and fall asleep at once; because Thou, O Lord, alone hast set me up in hope." Let others expect their happiness from their wealth or their talents; let others place their reliance on the purity of their lives, on the severity of their penance, or the abundance of their alms, or the number and devotion of their prayers; Thou, O Lord, alone hast set me up in hope; the very source of my confidence is my confidence; and that confidence has deceived no one; so the inspired writer has assured us: "No one has hoped in the Lord and been confounded." I am, then, assured that I shall be eternally happy, since I have a firm hope that I shall be so, with a hope rooted in the goodness of God. I know, and, alas, it is but too true, that I am frail and inconstant. I know what is the power of temptations against the most seemingly solid virtue; I have seen fall the stars of heaven and the pillars of the firmament; but even these falls cannot terrify me; so long as I shall hope, calamity shall not overtake me; and I am sure of hoping always, because I keep on hoping that that hope will be granted to me by Thy boundless liberality. In a word, I am deeply convinced that I cannot hope too confidently in Thy goodness, and that what I shall obtain from Thee will always be more and greater than what I shall have hoped. I hope, then, that Thou wilt hold me back from the most dangerous precipices, defend me against the most furious assaults and enable my weakness to triumph over the most powerful enemies; I hope that Thou wilt love me always, and that I on my part will love Thee on without infidelity: I hope, crowning all my hopes, to obtain Thyself from Thyself; O my Creator, for time and for eternity.
1. Cum a Dea beneficium petitur, beneficia affici se putat.
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