2nd Sunday of Lent – Tucson – 2020
(Based on the Catechism of the council of Trent – Part IV, Chp. 12)
Fiat voluntas tua sicut in coelo et in terra / Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
This 3rd petition of the Our Father is perhaps the most difficult for us to pray. When our prayers seem to go unanswered, we often feel as one left at the gate. When our prayers seem to be ignored, we feel unloved and tempted to despair. For those of you who have difficulty with this petition, I can think of nothing better to read, than a book entitled “The Consoling Thoughts of St. Francis de Sales.” One of the greatest challenges in our spiritual life and in praying “Thy will be done” is our judgment, of how we think things should be. Rather St. Francis de Sales suggests to us equanimity, which is an equalness of soul, enabling us to faithfully and lovingly do the will of God in both the consolations that He sends us and even more in the crosses of God’s will. By doing the will of God will this equanimity, we prove of faith in God’s judgements over our own judgement, our supreme love of God over our self-love, and our confidence and trust in Him as our loving Father over our trust in ourselves. Continuing on this equanimity of spirit, the Catechism of the Council of Trent says: “If oppressed by poverty, if by sickness, if by persecutions, if by other troubles and afflictions, we must be firmly convinced, that none of these things befall us without the will of God, which is the supreme reason of all things; and that therefore we ought not to be too grievously disturbed by them, but to bear them with unconquered mind.”
This petition immediately follows what we heard last week, “Thy kingdom come” because if we desire to enter the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Glory in Heaven, we must do His will, for Our Lord said: “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The Catechism of the Council of Trent, then states to the pastor, his duty to point out the miseries and calamities of our soul. Many modern people like to talk about the Good News of the Gospel, but that also implies the bad news, which they do not like to talk about – the bad news that sin leads to eternal damnation forever in the eternal fires of Hell with all the demons. One unrepented and unconfessed sin sends a soul to Hell forever. Listen to the Word of God on the state of our soul: The Psalmist says: “All have gone aside… there is none that doth good, no not one.” In Genesis: “For the imagination and thought of man’s heart are prone to evil from his youth.” And the holy St. Paul talking of himself: “For to will, is present with me; but to accomplish that which is good, I find not. For the good which I will, I do not; but the evil which I will not, that I do.” If it’s through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost that these great saints composed these texts, they who were guilty of sin, we the lowest of the saints must have much more to confess.
Thus, we pray “Thy will be done” because as we’ve casted off “obedience and the will of God” falling into sin, the sole corrective measure of our great fall is obedience, of conformity to the Divine Will that we rejected. By sinning we despised His will, we failed to measure our thoughts, words, and deeds by the rule of God but now we pray in repentance and the spirit of reparation: “Thy will be done.”
This petition “Thy will be done”, isn’t just for sinners as a plea of repentance, but also for the just souls. It is the souls of those who are the closest to God that are our best intercessors. For those still on earth in Sanctifying Grace, their prayer is to ever more closely follow the will of God in themselves and by others. We pray that we also may follow His will in the future, because in humility we know that we too can betray Our Lord by disobedience. Those on earth are “still exposed to great danger from ourselves, les drawn aside and allured by “the concupiscences which war in “our members” we again stray from the way of salvation” as Our Lord warned: “Watch ye and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
In the recent weeks, it’s been all over the news about illness about the coronavirus. While it’s less than 2 percent fatal, many forget that there is a disease that is 100% fatal. 100% of the time that mortal sin is contracted, it kills the spiritual life of the soul. While the body lives for some 70-90 years and then dies, the soul lives on into eternity. If only we avoided sin as much as we seek to avoid the coronavirus, we’d all be saints. The just, those in God’s grace, are also always at risk for a spiritual sickness. There’s no pill that you can take that will take away all risk of future diseases. For the souls, there’s no spiritual devotion that will remove all risk of future sin. God’s grace heals our soul, strengthens our will and illumines our mind, but we are still subject to temptations from the world, the flesh, and the devil. “Watch ye and pray…”
But as St. Francis de Sales says: “Our misery is the throne of God’s Mercy.” We shouldn’t be scared of discovering our miserable state as sinner. We should seek with God’s light to find the dark places of our soul and expose them to the sacred Blood of Our Lord - that the darkest and most wretched of our passions and lusts may be purified and sanctified.
[Meaning of the “Will of God”] In this petition, the “Will of God” refers to “that which God has commanded or admonished us to do or to avoid… all things that are proposed to us as the means of attaining the bliss of heaven, whether they regard faith or morals”, either commanded or prohibited by Christ or through his Church, and “to be prepared to suffer all things rather than depart even in the least from His will.” The Psalmist gives many wonderful examples of the prayer to Our Lord to do His will: “O! that my ways be directed to keep thy justifications” & “Lead me into the path of thy commandments.”
Special mention should be made, that we do not say “my will be done.” Sometimes we seem to thank that if we prayed harder, that we would get anything we want. Sometimes we get frustrated in our prayerlife if we don’t get exactly what we pray for. But we must remember, that prayer doesn’t change God’s will, but that He grants us what from all eternity He has willed to give us who ask for His blessings. When we struggle with saying these words, perhaps we can meditate on these words of Our Lord in His agony in the Garden: “Not my will but thine be done.”
And how should we obey God, how should we serve Him? Our Lord said on the evening before His death: “I will not now call you servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth. But I have called you friends: because all things whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you… you should go, and should bring forth fruit; and your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” Yes, we are the servants of the Lord, but we seek to so faithfully serve and love Him, that He counts us more as friends, that we are a loyal to Him as a friend, that we our hearts are as one with His as a friend’s would be. We pray “Thy will be done” desiring that the “Thy” grows greater, and the “my” grows lesser, as He becomes more in us, uplifting and transforming our little selfish wills into the perfect divine will of His love.
-Love, as a virtue, resides in the will. “God is love” as St. John tells us, and thus the will of God, is the will of an Infinite Divine Love. Trust Him, have confidence in Him, let Him take control of your life. He won’t budge through the door of our free-will; we have to let Him in. But don’t just leave Him standing at the front door, show Him every room of your soul and beg Him to reorder all your thoughts, desires, and actions so that they be in perfect harmony with His Fatherly love. Let Him remodel the house of your soul. Let Him completely remodel the home of your soul so that He may reign there through your faith, through your hope, and through your charity.
“On earth as it is in heaven” – the celestial angels immediately obey the commands of God with promptitude, zeal, devotion, perfection and with love. Our prayer is that we creatures still on earth will promptly, with delight, with faithful perfection, and with joy obey the will of God. As we look at ourselves and around us, there is still much work that needs to be done in glorifying the most holy Name of God, in spreading the Kingdom of God on earth. There still are many who do not know, who do not serve and do not love God and His holy will. As faithful and obedient friends of God, we have work to do, first, in ourselves and then around us.
And let us close with this thought – when we find it difficult to pray “Thy will be done,” let us remember that there is nothing greater on this earth than to love, serve, and obey God. In the classical work, “Paradise Lost” the demons say of Hell: “Here we may reign secure in our choice, to reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heaven.” Here the twisted and irrational reasoning of the devil doesn’t see that their “reign” is a reign of chain and shackle to the chaos of disordered passion. What they initially thinking is to reign, is truly being a slave. They do not reign at all for they are chained to sin and empty pleasure. But in loving, serving, and obeying God, what we initially think is being a servant, is truly to reign with the sweetness and goodness of our Divine Lord who calls us friends. Nothing is more pleasing, nothing is more joyful, nothing is more satisfying of our deepest human desires, than in serving and loving our Heavenly Father.
[Closing] Today, and forever, may we more faithfully desire, serve, obey, and love the will of God, with an equalness of spirit in both the consolations and the crosses of His will. May the “Thy will” be greater in us and the “my” lesser, so that at the moment of our death, as we’ve been faithful servants, stewards, and friends of His holy will and His good pleasure on earth, He may place us on His heavenly throne to reign with Him forever in His goodness and in His love. Amen.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.