Last year, I read, Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, a Jesuit priest (1675-1751 AD). In Abandonment, Caussade explores complete submission to the will of God (“divine providence” being another term for God’s will).
Caussade explains, “In this state they give up to God all their rights over themselves, over their words, actions, thoughts, and proceedings; over the employment of their time and everything connected with it. There remains only one desire, to satisfy the Master they have chosen, to listen unceasingly to the expression of His will in order to execute it immediately.”
Abandonment, as Caussade sees it, doesn’t necessarily result in a life filled with religious activities. Giving ourselves to God’s will is more important than the activity itself. Value is found in pursuing God’s will, not our own, even when our will is to pursue religious things. As Caussade says, “that which God wills for the present moment is best and all else must be regarded by the soul as being nothing at all.” Caussade would have Jesus’s prayer at Gethsemane absorb our entire lives: “Not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39).
I’d like to conclude this post with quotes from Abandonment. While reading this book, I often found myself stopping to reflect and to pray. Amen, Lord. Let your will be done.
“If that which God Himself chooses for you does not content you, from whom do you expect to obtain what you desire? If you are disgusted with the meat prepared for you by the divine will itself, what food would not be insipid to so depraved a taste? No soul can be really nourished, fortified, purified, enriched, and sanctified except in fulfilling the duties of the present moment. What more would you have? As in this you can find all good, why seek it elsewhere? Do you know better than God?”
“My good souls! nothing is wanting to you. If you only knew what these events really are that you call misfortunes, accidents, and disappointments, and in which you can see nothing but what is irrelevant, or unreasonable, you would lie deeply ashamed and excuse yourselves of your complainings as of blasphemies; but you never think of them as being the will of God, and His adorable will is blasphemed by His own children who refuse to acknowledge it.”
“Each blow of the hammer on the chisel can only produce one cruel mark at a time, and the stone struck by repeated blows cannot know, nor see the form produced by them. It only feels that it is being diminished, filed, cut, and altered by the chisel. And a stone that is destined to become a crucifix or a statue without knowing it, if it were asked, ‘What is happening to you?’ would reply if it could speak, ‘Do not ask me, I only know one thing, and that is, to remain immovable in the hands of my master, to love him, and to endure all that he inflicts upon me. As for the end for which I am destined, it is his business to understand how it is to be accomplished.’”
“It is the best part of the work, which is done something like beautiful tapestry, stitch by stitch from the wrong side. The worker employed on it sees only the stitch he is making, and the needle with which he makes it, while all the stitches combined form magnificent figures which do not show until, every part being complete, the right side is turned outwards. All the beauty and perfection of the work remain in obscurity during its progress. It is the same with the soul that has abandoned itself to God; it has eyes only for Him and for its duty. The performance of this duty is, at each moment, but an imperceptible stitch added to the work, and yet with these stitches God performs wonders of which He sometimes allows a glimpse to be seen, but which will not be visible in their entirety till revealed on the great day of eternity.”