Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Sacrament of Reconciliation - Why go to Confession

Confession is a true treasure in our Catholic faith and has become a meaningful part of my family’s life.  But this was not always the case.

A Little History
In 2001, around the time our first child was born, the Lord called me to youth ministry.  This call was totally out of left-field; but as I have come to appreciate, God does not always call the prepared, He prepares those He calls.

As youth minister, at one of the youth conferences I attended with my youth - Steubenville Youth Conference -  I went to confession for the first time in over fifteen years. The last time was likely my sophomore year of high school (Confirmation).

At the time, I was steeped in sin, having missed Mass hundreds of times since high school, drank more than I should (college years), held money and food as gods, sins of impurity, and acts of dishonesty, to name a few…  Let’s just say, I was scared to death, unable to remember even how to make a good confession; much less do this face-to-face with Jesus in the person of the priest sitting directly in front of me.

Nevertheless, I mustered up my courage and made a good and full confession.  When I heard the priest say the words of absolution, "May God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (See CCC1449)" I left the confessional that day, free, forgiven, and forever changed.  I had peace; true peace, for the first time in years.  That was a feeling I liked, and I wanted more!

I began to question the “need” for the Sacrament and what the Church actually teaches in terms of how often we should receive it and if we can confess to God directly, why do we need the Sacrament.

Here is what I learned:

  • Confession is a sacrament of healing (being reconciled with God). (See CCC 1421) 
  • I learned that we “need” to go to confession when in a state of mortal sin; as we cannot receive Jesus in the Eucharist if we are in a state of mortal sin. (See CCC1446 & 1385)
  • I also learned that our venial sins are forgiven at every Holy Mass, through the reception of the Eucharist.  We have already called to mind our sins during the Penitential Act where we pray the Confiteor (“I confess to almighty God…”). (See CCC 1416)
  • The terms “reconciliation” and “confession” are used interchangeably when referring to this sacrament.  Confession focuses on our part; reconciliation focuses on God’s movement in the sacrament.  (See CCC 1424.) 

And, as I ventured down the home-schooling road, teaching our children core truths of our beautiful Catholic faith, I also re-learned all the fun stuff I was taught as a sprightly youth in CCD from the lovely Baltimore Catechism.  Bear with me.

The Basics

  1. God created us to know, love, and serve Him, that we may be happy with him in heaven (sainthood). 2 We are all called to be saints.
  2. We sin and this kills the life of Christ in us. 2 We all sin.
  3. God loves us so much, and recognizes our weakness, tendency toward sin, that He suffered and died, emptying Himself completely on the Cross to redeem us (save us) that we may be happy with Him in Heaven.
  4. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8 NASB 
  5. His love is so great, that He chose to give us special help, grace, through the sacraments on our journey back to Him in an eternal family.

What is a Sacrament?
As some of you may recall from the St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism:  A Sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace. 2  What does this mean?

The path to holiness is like climbing a mountain -  a steep and daunting precipice; a mountain, with rocks, steep inclines, and at times, scorching heat.   The ascent up this mountain creates in us an unquenchable thirst, that without this thirst being satiated, the ascent would be impossible.

The Sacraments are the living water, if you will, that satiates our thirst and refreshes our soul; giving us the grace to forge onward.

What is Grace?  
Grace is supernatural gift of God bestowed on us through the merits of Jesus Christ for our salvation2.

Through the Sacraments, we receive the grace to forge ahead when weary or tired (Sanctifying Grace).  We receive the strength, through the sacraments to chooses to do right and avoid evil (Actual Grace). 2

How do we obtain grace?  
- Prayer
- The Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. 2

So how cool – God created us to be happy with Him in heaven, and gives us the tools, in spite of our sinfulness, to reach this exalted place as HIS adopted sons and daughters.

What is Sin?
I would be remiss in sharing the joy and gratitude we enjoy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, if I did not demonstrate the sin from which this beautiful and peace-filled sacrament frees us.

Well, we are a fallen humanity; sin being introduced by Adam and Eve (Genesis Chapter 3) and since then, our tendency is toward sin.
Romans 3:23 - “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
1 John 1:8-10 - “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [however] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 
Any time we choose our will over God’s we are choosing to sin.

Take heart and take up your cross; daily.  God never promised that our pilgrimage back to him would be easy.  In fact, He challenges us in Luke 9 and Matthew 16 to “…take up [your] cross and follow Me.   The good news?  He does not ask we do this alone.  In Matthew chapter 11, He asks that we come to Him, weary and heavy laden, promising to carry the yoke with us, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  THAT IS GRACE!

To overcome sin, we rely, not on ourselves, but by cooperating with God’s grace.  And believe me, we are all sinners.  Even the greatest of saints were all sinners.   St. Paul teaches in Romans 7:15, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”

So let’s get this straight, He created us to be happy with Him in heaven, knowing we are all sinners, AND “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8) by pouring Himself out, completely in His Passion and death.  He then asks us to carry our crosses with Him, and promises to help us do so?

Hadn’t he already done enough?  He could have just left well enough alone with the love He poured out on the Cross of Calvary.  But, that is not our God.  Our God is relentlessly pursuing us, allowing us our free will, but continually begging us to come to Him and giving us the grace to do so, if we ask.

Again, we are weak, prone to sin.  What could God do to help our burden be light, how could He help us?  He gave us the Sacraments.  The Sacraments, as I have mentioned already, are an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace2.   We come to Him to receive His grace enabling us climb the mountain of holiness, through the sacraments.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation - Confession

Confession takes humility, and our pride, the evil one’s favorite sin (as you recall in Genesis 3, it was the sin of pride that lead Adam and Eve to eat the fruit, that they may be like God knowing good and evil.)   The evil one will do all in his power to keep us from receiving grace in confession, by tempting us into the sin of pride.  He tricks us into believing that either our sin is too great, that we can be neither loved nor forgiven, or perhaps our sin is not great at all and not needing to be confessed.

On the other hand, God desires to lavish His grace upon us; but we need to humble ourselves enough to go to Him to ask for this healing.

One excellent example of the sin of pride and confession can be found in Luke chapter 18; The Pharisee and the Publican.

Jesus teaches us, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee [Jews were known for strict obedience to the law and holiness] and the other a tax collector [Tax collectors were known for collecting more tax than the law prescribed; stealing, and everybody knew it].   
The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.
But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other.   For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. 
Therefore, it says in James 4:6, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Confession takes humility.  In this simple act of faith and humility, the sinner exposes his wounds, weaknesses, and falls.  But the grace that flows over those open wounds heals and restores us.

We commit two types of sin:

  • Mortal Sin
  • Actual Sin

What is Mortal Sin?  For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met:

  • "Sin is of grave matter
  • You must know it is grave
  • Choose to do it anyway.  (CCC1857) 

In other words, we have full knowledge and give full consent.  If we break any of the commandments in a serious way, we commit mortal sin.

St. Thomas and St. Augustine define mortal sin:
“A turning away from God, that is turning of one’s back upon God.” 1

What is Venial Sin?   For a sin to be venial, the offense against the laws of God are not so grievous as mortal.  There are two ways for a sin to be considered venial:

  • “Evil done is not seriously wrong
  • Evil done is seriously wrong, but sinner sincerely believes it is only slightly wrong OR does not give full consent.” (CCC 1862)


Sin / Reconciliation Illustration
The best illustration I have found to teach the effect of sin, and the grace that flows from the Sacrament of Reconciliation when we come, is as follows:

  • Stand near, facing a Crucifix, and explain that I choose my will over God’s by speaking uncharitably behind a friend’s back. I take a step away from Jesus crucified.  
  • Now, I tell a lie; another step away from Him.  
  • Next I choose my will over His through mortal sin.  Take another BIG step away AND turn around so as to no longer see Jesus’ face; back now turned to Him.
  • Finally, meet Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Turn around and walk back to the Crucifix.

Confession is a Family Affair

“As a family, we value the Sacrament of Reconciliation and fully embrace the Church’s teaching on this powerful and freeing sacrament.   For many, it is an undiscovered gem in the vast treasure chest of our Church.  If we can foster a love for this Sacrament in our children when they are young, they will be stronger in their faith and have a well-formed conscience when they enter the world as an adult.

As one of my spiritual director’s correctly put it, “As parents, our God-given role, is the highest calling! We are called to shape character, instill virtues, and affect the world.”4  If our children are going to be well-formed, virtuous, and obedient to God in their adult years, we will have to guide their souls into a loving relationship with Jesus in their formative years.

Jesus is love, and He is the King of Mercy.  In their humanity, our children’s human weakness, they will need the assurance that they are loved and forgiven, because they most assuredly will fall, again, and again.  Each time they fall, Jesus will be there in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, waiting with love and mercy, to pick them up and help them to begin again.  Our children will grow, with confidence in Jesus’ mercy and love through this amazing treasure!

As Catholics and children of God, we can approach this powerful sacrament with faith in the words that Jesus shared with St. Faustina:

… When you approach the confessional, know this, that I myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy…. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.5
Go, with confidence, and meet Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

In Conclusion
Our Lord is relentlessly pursuing us - all of the time - and His only desire is to be happy with us in Heaven.  This is why He created us.  We are sinners and our sin kills the life of Christ in us.  Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Reconciiation that we may be reconciled with Him and that He may shower grace upon our souls, to strengthen us on our journey back to Him in an eternaly family; to heaven.

As parents, we can encourage our children to receive this beautiful sacrament.  Better yet, let them see the joy and peace we are given when we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Suggested Resources:

  • My Confession Handbook - A Child’s Worry-Free Handbook to the Treasure of the Sacrament of Reconciliation Great for Saints-In-Training, Ages 7 – 10, With the Guidance of Parent or Guardian - also available on
  • My Catholic Family – Sts. Padre Pio & John Vianney DVD’s (The entire DVD set is worthwhile -
  • King of the Golden City – Mother Mary Loyola (Our preferred version has study material by Janet P. McKenzie)
  • A Reconciliation Reader-Retreat: Read-Aloud Lessons, Stories, and Poems for Young Catholics Preparing for Confession – Janet P. McKenzie ( 
  • Brother Francis / Forgiven DVD
  • Guidebook for Confession for Children – Edited by Beatriz B. Brillantes - Sinag-Tala Publishers, Inc
  • The Most Beautiful Thing in the World -  Susan Brindle / Ann Brindle / Margaret Brindle
  • The Young Life of St. Maria Faustina - Claire Jordan Mohan
  • Children’s Book of Virtues - Bill Bennett
  • Holy Heroes Audio Cd’s – 
  • A Child’s Rule of Life - Robert Hugh Benson – Neumann Press
  • Angel Food for Boys and Girls (Set of four) – Father Gerald T. Brennan - Neumann Press (read aloud)
  • The Bible, read aloud daily to your children, starting with the Gospels.  (We use both the New American Standard Bible and Golden Children’s Bible, by Golden Books).

Sources –
1. The Way of Salvation and of Perfection – St. Alphonsus De Liguori
2. Baltimore Catechism
3. My Confession Handbook, Jr.- Soley
4. Lori Knuth
5. Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of Saint Maria Fausinta Kowalska, Faustina Kowalska

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kristen's Bone Marrow Transplant Journey

I have been in and out hospitals, having my life sustained with blood and platelet transfusions, since late January 2015.  I am just finishing up my first leg of a Bone Marrow Transplant Journey. 

Initially the doctors suspected leukemia and after a hospital to hospital transfer to Mayo from Fairview Southdale for additional guidance and expertise, I was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia (a disease in which the bone marrow, and the blood stem cells that reside there, are damaged, causing a deficiency of all three blood cell types: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.)  My bone marrow had simply quit doing its job.  I was being kept alive by generous donations of blood product.   

Because I was not producing white blood cells, my immune system had been compromised.  I spent the winter separated from my loving family to protect me from the many bugs that run through a larger household. 
In March of 2015, I went through one round of ATG (chemo) to try and kick-start my bone marrow and immune system.  This treatment was not met with success.  The next step for our family was to prayerfully consider a risky and costly bone marrow transplant (BMT). 

Knowing the risks that accompany a BMT, we did move forward and with God’s grace, my sister Monica was a perfect match and she was delighted to share her gift of life with me.
Day zero, they call it, or my second birthday (BMT day) was June 16th, 2015 and it appears to have been a success.  My body is now creating its own cells and cell counts are beginning to fall within the normal range.  I have suffered setbacks and complications along the ‘marathon’ of a BMT, but my Severe Aplastic Anemia is cured. 

I will continue to doctor at Mayo under close supervision for the next several years, as the BMT journey is long and the risk of mortality is still present due to complications that can and do arise post BMT.


For more details on our journey:

Caringbridge -

A friend set up a GoFundMe account for our family -

Kristen Soley's Journey


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

The Secret to Peace and Happiness

Written by:

Father Jean Baptiste Saint Jure, S.J.
Saint Claude De La Colombiere, S.J.

Summarized by:
Susan Mielke & Kristen Soley

“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.”
- St. Claude De La Colomombiere

 “It is possible that what we see as an inconvenient interruption is a divine appointment.” 
- John Ortberg

Why would we surrender?

To surrender, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to give the control or use of (something) to someone else.”  So when we surrender to God we are giving control of our lives to God; hopping in to the passenger seat and entrusting the steering wheel to God.  This is not to say that we stop planning, working, praying, hoping; no indeed.  It simply means that when God changes our plan, we humbly accept it, knowing that He, our loving Father, who loves us with a greater love than we can fathom, knows what is best for our soul and will only allow things to happen to us that will help draw us closer to Him, ultimately lead to our salvation, and draw souls closer to Him through us.   

Remember in our St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism, “God created us to know, love, and to serve Him, that we may be happy with Him in Heaven.”  We are His adopted sons and daughters, whom He loves with an unfathomable love.  His only desire is our salvation and He gave His only Son for this; poured out completely for our sins.  This love is greater than our humanity can comprehend.  God is love and He created us in His image and likeness.  Not only in His image and likeness but He asks us to be perfect, just as our Heavenly Father is perfect.  This is His heart’s desire.   When we surrender our will to His and cooperate with His grace, He can do this in our souls.  This Heaven He has prepared for us, can begin before we leave earth.  This is what we are talking about in the Our Father when we ask “Thy Kingdom Come.”  God is relentlessly pursing us, all of the time.  He desires to dwell in us.  How do we do this?  Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy Will be done); obedience to his Will, full surrender.

The Will of God Made and Governs all Things

God’s Will is the cause of all that exists.  “Worthy art thou, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things, and because of thy will they existed and were created.” 2
“If God then has produced all these things, as St. Paul says, according to the purpose of His Will, is it not supremely right and reasonable as well as absolutely necessary that they should be preserved and governed by Him according to the counsel of His will?” 2

God Controls All Events, Whether Good or Bad

The only thing we own is our sin. 
“Nothing happens in the universe without God willing and allowing it.  This statement must be taken absolutely of everything with the exception of sin.  ‘Nothing occurs by chance in the whole course of our lives.’” 2
"Nothing occurs except by His order and permission. "2

-        Isaias 45:6-7 – I form light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil, I the Lord, do all these things.  It is I who bring death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them, He said to Moses.” 2
-        1 Kings 2:67 - In the Canticle of Anna, the mother of Samuel, “He bringeth down to the tomb and He bringeth back again; the Lord maketh rich he humbleth and he exaltheth.” 2
-        Ecc 11:14 – “Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches are from God.” 2

We try to blame these things (death, loss, and suffering) on man.  “This is the defense behind which we try to shelter from God and excuse our lack of courage and submission.” 2

“It is quite useless for us to try and take advantage of this way of reasoning as an excuse for not surrendering to Providence… Nothing occurs except by His order and permission.” 2

In the words of St. Augustine, “All that happens to us in the world against our will (whether due to men or to other causes) happens to us only by the will of God, by the disposal of Providence, by His orders and under His guidance; and if from the frailty of our understanding we cannot grasp the reason for some event, let us attribute it to Divine Providence, show Him respect by accepting it from His hand, believe firmly that He does not send it [to] us without cause.” 2

How Can God Will or Allow Evil

Father Jean teaches that, “God indeed is not and cannot be the author of sin, but it must be remembered that in every sin there are two parts to be distinguished, one natural and the other moral.  Thus in the action of the man you think you have a grievance against there is, for example, the movement of the arm that strikes you or the tongue that offends you, and the movement of the will that turns aside from right reason and the laws of God.  The physical action of the arm or the tongue, like all natural things is quite good in itself and there is nothing to prevent its being produced with and by God’s cooperation.  What is evil, what God could not cooperate with, is the sinful intention of the act.

If then someone strikes or slanders you, as the movement of the arm or tongue, God is the author of it… As for the malice of the intention, it proceeds entirely from man and in it alone is the sinfulness in which God has no share but which He yet permits in order not to interfere with our freedom of will.  The sin harms only the person who is guilty of it. 2

When something comes between you and God, knowing that His ultimate desire is your salvation, He will do His best to remove it.  It is not easy to see, in our humanity, that this is an act of love on His part.  If, for example, money is your God, he can allow someone to rob you.   “When God cooperates with the person who attacks or robs you, he doubtless intends to deprive you of your health or goods because you are making a wrong use of them and they will be harmful to your soul.”  2

God wishes to make you see your own faults, to humble you, deprive you of what you possess, in order to free you from vice and lead you to virtue.


-        Leeches – A doctor applies leeches to draw blood from a patient to gorge themselves of the patient’s impure blood in hopes of a cure.  There is no relation between the insatiable greed of the leeches and the intelligent purpose of the doctor.   In the eyes of God, The leeches are an example of a necessary instrument of well-being, guided by the hand of an all-good, all wise, all powerful God who will allow them to act on us only insofar as is of use to us. 2

-        Joseph - his brothers sold him into slavery with wicked malice, but we see it was God’s Providence as Joseph credits, “God sent me, before you into Egypt, to save life… God sent me before you to preserve a remnant for you in the land.” 2

-        Our Lord’s Passion – He attributed His suffering of His Passion not to the Jews, Judas, Pilate, nor the soldiers who crucified Him; He attributes it to God. “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”  (John 18:11) 2 

Father Jean encourages us, “Let us never attribute our losses, our disappointments, our afflictions, our humiliations to the devil or to men, but to God as their real source.” 2

St. Claude de la Colombiere teaches that God is not the cause of sin a person commits by ill-treating you, but He is the cause of the suffering that person inflicts upon you while sinning.  “It is usually the case that other people can see better than we ourselves what is good for us.  It would be foolish to think that we can see better than God Himself, who is not subject to any of the passions that bind us, knows the future and can foresee all events and the consequences of every action." 2

“Say a doctor orders an operation which cuts away part of our body and we accept it.  We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as he does unless the remedy were necessary, and we must rely on his skill.  Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way.”  We must trust in His wisdom. 2

The objective is to lead a good Christian life, St. Claude teaches that each of you has something you have been unwilling to surrender to God; worldly ambition, blameworthy habit, indulgence of the body, some company that is an occasion for sin.  This is the only step preventing you from attaining perfect freedom of the love of God.  It wasn’t really very much, but you could not bring yourself to make this last sacrifice.  It wasn’t very much, but there is nothing harder than for a Christian to break the last tie that binds him to the world or his own self… so it was necessary to take you unawares, to cut deep into the flesh with skillful hand when you were least expecting it and remove the ulcer concealed within, or otherwise you would never be well. 2

One day of adversity can be more profit to us for our eternal salvation than years of untroubled living, whatever good use we make of the time. 2

In good times, we are pleasantly occupied, and seldom lift our eyes to heaven.  “Adversity on the other hand leads us as if naturally to raise our eyes to Heaven to seek consolation in our distress.” 2

God Does Everything With Supreme Wisdom

God, being infinite wisdom can only act in a wise manner.  St. Basil teaches, “We are the work of a good Workman and that He dispenses and distributes to us all things great and small with the wisest providence, so that there is nothing bad, nothing that could even be conceived better.” 2

Our Lord treats us with the same circumspection as He handles a precious, crystal vase.  When it is necessary for our good He afflicts us with some illness, loss, or pain…  His beloved children whom He chastises because He loves us. 2

Trials and Punishments are Blessings From God and Proof of His Mercy

God’s purpose in us is a holy one, for the good of His own creatures, so that everything may serve to our advantage and perfection, IF we cooperate with His Providence.  Father Jean teachers, “My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord, neither be thou weary when thou art rebuked by Him.”  For whom the Lord loves He chastises, and he scourges every son whom He receives.” (Heb 12:2-7) 2

Father Jean teaches, “If you refused to accept these tribulations you would be acting against your best interests.  You are like a block of marble in the hands of the sculptor. The sculptor musts chip, hew and smooth it to make it into a statue that is a work of art.  God wishes to make us the living image of Himself.  All we need to think of is to keep still in His hands while He works on us, and we can rest assured that the chisel will never strike the slightest blow that is not needed for His purposes and our sanctification; for, as St. Paul says, the will of God is your sanctification.” 2

 Great Advantages to be Gained from Entire Conformity to the Divine Will

It all comes down to love!  Scripture teaches we are to love the Lord, with all our heart, soul and mind, (MT 22:37-38).  This is the first and greatest commandment!  Rodriguez, followed by St. Chrysostom teaches, “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… and in this conformity consists the highest perfection we can attain and those that practice it with the greatest care will be favored by God’s greatest gift and will make the quickest progress in the interior life.” 2

Father Jean teaches, “Since it is the most perfect act of charity and the most pleasing and acceptable sacrifice that is given to man to offer 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 with great labor.” 2

Conformity to God’s Will Makes us Happy in This Life as Well

Father Jean teaches, “[Conformity to God’s Will] 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. 2

The result of surrendering is peace and joy.   St. Bernard in On loving God, “Man knows no peace in the world; but he has no disturbance when he is with God.”4

St. Claude teaches, “Let us suppose that you turn to God with blind trust and surrender unconditionally to Him, entirely resolved to put aside your own hopes and fears… wishing nothing except what He wishes.  From this moment on you will acquire perfect liberty and will never again feel troubled or uneasy, and there is no power on earth capable of doing you violence or giving you a moment’s unrest.”2

If you have fully surrendered your will to God’s, nothing can upset you.  You will accept changes to your plan as God’s Divine Will, and simply adjust and continue forward.   St. Therese’s Little Way, was to be disturbed by nothing.  This is complete surrender.

The Practice of Conformity to the Will of God

We are to conform to God’s Will in everything.  “The first thing God asks of us is that we should faithfully keep His commandments and those of the Church, humbly obey those who have authority over us, and carefully fulfill the duties of our state.” 2

-        In our Natural Lives:  We are to put up with our little daily vexations.  2

o   Word of mouth that wounds our self esteem
o   Fly that annoys us
o   Knocking into something as we walk along
o   Barking dog
o   A pen that won’t write
o   It is important to conform to God’s Will in these small things, as it prepares us to resign with a Christian spirit when more serious difficulties arise. 

-        In Public Calamities: 2

o   War
o   Famine
o   Pestilence
o   Consider how many souls may be saved through tribulation which would otherwise be lost, how many persons through affliction are converted to God and die with sincere repentance for their sins.  What may appear as a scourge is often a great sign of grace and mercy.

-        In the Cares and Difficulties of Family Life, do not trouble yourself with:  2

o   Family Size
o   Gender of Children
o   Resources
o   Avoid worrying about anything else for your children except whatever may contribute in bringing them up virtuously.

-        In Reverses of Fortune: 2

o   Job – “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; as it pleases the Lord, so is it done.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

-        If you find yourself obliged to make payment you consider unjust – if lawfully required of you, then it is the Will of God.  He is asking you for the money.  When done in a spirit of conformity, against your will, the act is more pure and agreeable in the sight of God.

-        In Poverty and Hardship:  God gives us what we need 2

o   Poverty
o   Inconveniences of Poverty
o   “If a rich man has a son in bad health and prescribes a strict diet for him, does the son think he has to eat small amounts of plain tasteless food because the father cannot afford better?  Everybody knows how well off his father is and that he shares in his father’s wealth and he will again have what is now forbidden as soon as his health is restored.”  Are we not the children of the God of riches, the co-heirs of Christ?”  All that is His is ours. 
o   If anything is necessary for us, our Father will give it to us without fail. 

-        In Adversity and Disgrace: 2

o   Ill-treated
o   Slander
o   St. Claude teaches that our Redeemer is a witness to all of our suffering.  He loves us and has declared that whoever touches us touches the apple of His eye.  Further, He chose to suffer the most horrible tortures the rage of man can invent rather than see us condemned to the slightest pain in the next life.  He prepares and offers us the chalice of bitterness we must drink in this world.
o   In whatever circumstance we find ourselves, do not refuse thinking we are incapable.  God will accomplish it in us, if we do not resist His grace.  When we cooperate with His grace, He can do great things within us.            

-        In Defects of Nature: Mental Defects, etc. 2

o   We should not complain if we have been given little, as we deserve nothing.
o   God gives us the qualities that are in accordance with the designs He has for us.

-        In Sickness and Infirmity:  2

o   In sickness and infirmity we are to conform our will and only wish for what He sends us, both at the time it comes and for the time it lasts and will all it involves, without wishing for change; at the same time, doing all that is in our power to get well again.
o   “St. Bonaventure teaches of St. Francis of Assisi’s illness to which a follower of his suggested he ask Our Lord to treat him more gently, to which St. Francis responded, “If I did not think that what you have said, comes from the simplicity of your heart without any evil intention I would have no more to do with you.”  And then prayed, “I thank you O Lord, for all the suffering you send me, I beg you to send me a hundred times more if you think it right.  I shall rejoice if it pleases you to afflict me without sparing me in any way, for the accomplishment of your holy will is my greatest consolation.”2
o   He who is wisdom itself and loves us with an infinite love would load our backs with too heavy a burden nor leave us longer than is necessary in the fire of tribulation.  We can be quite sure that the fire will not last longer or be hotter than is necessary to bake our clay to the right point.”

-        In Death and the Manner of it:   We are all going to die. 2

o   St. Gertrude, “I much prefer the will of God, for I am sure the best disposition for a good death is submission to His Will.  So I desire only the death by which He wishes me to come to Him, and I am confident that in whatever way I die, His mercy will not fail me.”
o   St. Alphonsus, “He who accepts death with perfect resignation accepts similar merit to that of a martyr who has voluntarily given his life for Christ.”

-        The Loss of Spiritual Consolation: 2

o   God loves you no less when He removes spiritual consolations. 
o   “Rest assured that no spiritual consolation will ever be so profitable to you as the dryness cheerfully born in a spirit of conformity to His Will.  It is not what we feel that prepares us for God’s grace, but the act of our will.”

-        In the Consequences of Our Sins: 2

o   Indisposition or effect on our health brought about by overindulgence
o   Sacrifice we must make due to money foolishly spent for selfish ends
o   Bad turn in our affairs owing to impatient or imprudent conduct
o   God does not wish us to sin, but given we do sin, He wishes for our good, which is followed by punishment. 
o   Accept this punishment from His hand in the belief that there is nothing better in regaining His favor than humble acceptance of it.

-        Interior Trials:   God is the author of interior trials2

o   Temptation
o   Scruples
o   Anxieties
o   Aridity
o   Desolation
o   Many have become lukewarm and careless in their duties and roused by the awareness of God’s absence and are able to regain the fervor they had lost.
o   “Everything is meant for our good, and such trials ought to be counted as special graces from God.”

-        In Spiritual Favors: 2

o   We should desire virtue itself and the degrees of grace only insofar as God wishes to give them, and not desire more. 2
o   When we learn of those who have been given great spiritual favors, we should repress our desire to be treated likewise so as to not fall short in pure love of conformity to His Will. 

St Claude teaches a GREAT prayer of surrender, “Either give me so much money that my heart will be satisfied, or inspire me with such contempt for it that I no longer want it.  Either free me from poverty, or make it so pleasant for me that I would not exchange it for all the wealth in the world.  Either take away my suffering, or – which would be to Your greater glory – change it into delight for me, and instead of causing me affliction, let it become a source of joy.  You can take away the burden of my cross, or you can leave it with me without my feeling its weight.  You can extinguish the fire that burns me, or you can let it burn in such a way it refreshes me as it did the three youths in the fiery furnace.  I ask you for either one thing or the other.  What does it matter in what way I am happy If I am happy through possession of worldly goods, it is you I have to thank.  If I am happy when I deprived of them, it gives you greater glory and my thanks all the greater.”2

If we could discover the designs of Providence, we would long for the evils we are now so unwilling to suffer.  “We would rush forward to accept them with the utmost gratitude if we had little faith and realized how much God loves us and has our interests at heart.”2

Opportunity in Surrender

Each of us is called, in different ways, specific to the gifts and talents He has given us, to cooperate with His grace in salvation.   He Leadeth Me, by Father Ciszek writes of the great graces to be gained in God’s redemptive plan through our obedience and surrender to His Divine Will.  “Day by day, I learned to experience in some measure the power of God as manifested in the mystery of the passion.  Pain and suffering comprised the sacrifice needed in the passion for saving souls.  A similar sacrifice had to be undertaken by all those called to the apostolate.  And yet the suffering and sacrifice were touched by deep spiritual joy, because in them one saw God’s will accomplished in an otherwise frustrating life, the great work of salvation promoted.  If you look upon sacrifice and suffering only through the eyes of reason alone, your tendency will be to avoid as much of it as you can, for pain in itself is never pleasant.  But if you can learn to see the role of pain and suffering in relation to God’s redemptive plan for the universe and each individual soul, your attitude must change.  You don’t shun it when it comes upon you, but bear it in the measure grace is given you. You see in it a putting on of Christ in the true sense of the word.  Out of this insight comes joy, and an increase of hope; out of it too grows compassion for others and a hope that they also may be helped the true meaning of life and its trials, its joys and its sufferings.  Fired with this enthusiasm, the soul constantly yearns to communicate the wonder of God’s grace to everyone.”  3
St. Claude teaches, Great graces for souls, both ours and our brothers and sisters in Christ, can be gained through our surrender to trials.  “Those who follow along with Christ His Way of the Cross will understand how much God has loved us by giving the opportunities to merit so rich a reward. “ 2

Obedience in Our Daily Lives

“My food is to do the Will of the one who sent me and complete His work.” (John 4:34)

“That is our task – to do the Will of God by completing the work that He has given us to do.  Pope St. John Paul II said that each of us is a unique gift of God with an unrepeatable mission.  Each of us has a unique role to fulfill in the Church.  This role cannot be carried out by anyone else.  If we don’t step up to the challenge and fulfill our particular responsibility, other souls will not be touched and will not reach their own full potential in God’s plan.   Some may even be lost because we did our own will instead of God’s.”1

Luke 17:10 NASB 10 So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’

 What the saints have to say about obedience to God’s Divine Will:

-        “Obedience, is rightly placed before all other sacrifices, for in offering a victim as sacrifice, one offers a life that is not one’s own; but when one obeys one is immolating one’s own will.” - St. Gregory the Great

-        “The Devil doesn’t fear austerity but holy obedience.” -  St. Francis de Sales

-        “Obedience unites us so closely to God that in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.” -  St. Thomas Aquinas

-        My daughter, know that you give Me greater glory by a single act of obedience than by long prayers and mortifications. (894) - St Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul

In Summary

It all comes down to souls.  If you love God, you cannot help but love souls.  Our Lord is in each of us and when you love another, you love God.  It’s that simple.   The more we cooperate with God’s grace (surrender), the more work He can do through us for the good of our soul and our brothers and sisters in Christ.  As St. Augustine said, “I don’t want to be saved without you.” 

Daily we will fight the biggest battle of our lives, the battle against our will.  God understands this, and we are not alone.  St. Paul teaches in Romans 7:18, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”  Truly, the only thing we own is our sin, everything else is a grace; everything. 

All good that comes from us, comes from God, including the grace surrender.  Pray for wisdom and obedience.  You must know He wishes to shower these graces upon your soul.



1.      Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary for Families

2.      Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, Father Jean Baptiste Saint Jure, S.J., Saint Claude De La Colombiere, S.J.

3.      He Leadeth Me, Cizsek

4.      On Loving God, St. Bernard of Clairvaux