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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sunday Meditation: Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

St. Claude de la Colombiere

One of my go-to books for morning prayer is Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, a book co-authored Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint Jure, S.J and by St. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J. (1641-1682) [Yes, Virginia, there once was a day when the Jesuits gave us holy and wise priests.] St. Claude was the spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who did so much to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What good saints to invite into our life during this month devoted to the Sacred Heart.

The past two mornings I've been reading a few pages over and over again trying to burn them into my brain and my heart. The main point is that EVERYTHING we experience comes from the will of God. EVERYTHING. "Nothing happens to us in life unless God wills it so." Fr. John Hardon, another holy Jesuit, often said that. I was blessed to attend two retreats with him before he died in 2000 and, like his brother priests, he emphasized over and over that EVERYTHING comes from God.

Can you believe it? 

When disaster strikes, can you believe God willed it? If your house burns down, ior f someone lies about you or, or steals your identity, or it the government bans an effective medical protocol that brings about the death of a loved one, can you believe that God willed it? 

Not easy, that's for sure! 

Here's what St. Claude writes, even describing that reality as a "consoling truth":

It is one of the most firmly established and most consoling of the truths that have been revealed to us that (apart from sin) nothing happens to us in life unless God wills it so. Wealth and poverty alike come from Him. If we fall ill, God is the cause of our illness; if we get well, our recovery is due to God. We owe our lives entirely to Him, and when death comes to put an end to life, His will be the hand that deals the blow.
But should we attribute it to God when we are unjustly persecuted? Yes, He is the only person you can charge with the wrong you suffer. He is not the cause of the sin the person commits by ill-treating you, but He is the cause of the suffering that person inflicts on you while sinning. God did not inspire your enemy with the will to harm you, but He gave him the power to do so. If you receive a wound, do not doubt but that it is God Himself who has wounded you. If all living creatures were to league themselves against you, unless the Creator wished it and joined with them and gave them the strength and means to carry out their purpose, they would never succeed. You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above, the Savior of the world said to Pilate. We can say the same to demons and men, to the brute beasts and to whatever exists — You would not be able to disturb me or harm me as you do unless God had ordered it so. You are sent by Him, you are given the power by Him to tempt me and to make me suffer. You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above.
If from time to time we meditated seriously on this truth of our faith it would be enough to stifle all complaint in whatever loss or misfortune we suffer. What I have the Lord gave me, it has been taken away by Him. It is not a lawsuit or a thief that has ruined you or a certain person that has slandered you; if your child dies it is not by accident or wrong treatment, but because God, to whom all belongs, has not wished you to keep it longer.

My confessor recently advised me to read the book of Job. What a companion! Job's sufferings and losses, the abuse from his friends and even his wife...Wow! How many would continue to persevere in faith under those circumstances? Let's face it, we all know people who abandon God when things get tough. Consolation fills them with zeal. Desolation disgusts them. Who can accept the difficult truths?

Trustful Surrender  echoes my favorite scripture passage: "All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and serve according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Not "some things" -- ALL THINGS! God uses ALL THINGS for my good, just as a loving father punishes or allows mistakes in order to discipline or teach. We often learn more from the tough and painful events of life than from the soft and easy. As a T-shirt my daughter gave me reads, "With struggle comes strength." You don't build muscle when your sleeping.

I try to remember all that when I'm having a sleepless night thinking about an unpleasant event. It's certainly not easy. But God never promised us a rose garden without thorns. The joys of life are never far removed from the sufferings and sorrows. 

My husband and I went to the funeral of the adult son of friends yesterday. It seems so out of the order of things for parents to bury their children even if they're adults. But how can we know why God, in His Providence, allowed it? We see in a glass darkly as St. Paul says. But of one thing of which we can be sure. God is a loving Father, and EVERYTHING He allows in our lives is for our good -- whether we are on the right path or whether we are far from path wandering in the wilderness. He knows what we need. Remember what he said to the Father who asked Him to cure his son if He could. Doubt is useless; what's needed is faith.

I pray every day for an increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. I need them all. May every day bring a greater abundance to all of this struggling in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You. Increase my faith!


  1. The Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

    I have loved this prayer for years and found it essential in beginning the day. Key phrases have a way of coming back throughout the events of each day. It is worth committing to heart.
    O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will.
    At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Thy holy Will.
    Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from Thee.
    Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.
    O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing that. I'm going to copy it and put it in prayer journal to pray often.

  3. Amazing book. It has been of great consolation in the hardest times of my life

  4. Thank you Mary Ann! I ordered Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence & I look forward to reading it. The premise of the book reminds me of the extraordinary life & writings of Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta & God’s revelations to her in Living in the Divine Will (the fulfillment of the Our Father Prayer).

    Although this Pontificate recently “paused” her cause (no surprise given their new position on interpreting apparitions), ALL of her writings (36 Volumes/The Book of Heaven) have already been approved. In fact, the Vatican had published years ago their own biography (The Sun of My Will) on Luisa’s life and writings.

    To read Luisa’s writings I highly recommend a person start with Volume 1 & follows Biblical Scholar Frances Hogan’s reading and commentary (as some translations can be challenging).

    A little over a year ago I lost suddenly & unexpectedly a 35-year-old daughter and can honestly say… the pain is inconceivable. Luisa’s writing from Jesus on Living the Divine Will (along with the Eucharist, Rosary, & Holy Scripture) have been my saving grace. Living the Divine Will & trusting in God’s Providence is life changing! I will be reading Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint Jure & St. Claude de la Colombiere’s wisdom for continued perspective. Thank you for all you do! Kathleen

  5. Thank you, Kathleen, I know there is controversy over Luisa Piccarreta and the Divine Will devotion. I don't know enough about it to have an opinion, but there is such an abundance of material available from the Fathers of the Church and canonized saints that I leave these controversies to God. I have a handful of books I depend on for my "daily bread" and a library of lives of the saints that I will not be able to finish before I stand before the Judgment Seat of God.

  6. 'Trustful Surrender' has been a favorite of mine for decades. One I discovered more recently is 'Words of Encouragement' taken from sermons, letters and conferences by Daniel Considine, SJ, in the early 1900s. It is similar to Trustful Surrender in that it is simple and very consoling. Those two are my go-to books for difficult times.