“Stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love.”
Sacred Scripture contains numerous incidences of the people of God being tested in one way or another – whether the prophets enduring particular tests; the Apostles witnessing at the cost of their lives; or the laity undergoing trials of various kinds. All of us will no doubt be able to identify personally with such Biblical accounts, as we all go through trials in our own lives.
At the start of Lent this year, I had been praying and I recall asking the Blessed Virgin to obtain particular graces for me; I also recall saying to Her to do whatever She felt necessary in achieving this. Needless to say, She did just that. Very soon afterward, my health failed and has remained not so good for most of this year. Lent was difficult, particularly at the spiritual level, and this continued long after Easter had come and gone. Thankfully, there are now some signs of improvement and this, together with the passage of time, allows me to look back a little more dispassionately, and to reflect on the year so far.
Difficult though it certainly has been, I see clearly that it has also been liberally scattered with graces, every one of which is due entirely to the kindness of the Blessed Virgin. The graces accompanied the difficulties and I am certain they would not have been granted without those difficulties.
And this, really, is the whole point of writing all this.
We often think of times of trial as moments when we seem to be abandoned by the Lord, when we feel we are left entirely to our own devices and usually make a complete mess of things; but the reality is considerably different. In moments such as these, the Lord is perhaps even closer to us.
We see things from a purely human perspective and this means we see only the present moment. The Lord, of course, sees far more broadly than we – and He sees that His grace supports us in every trial, each such moment of difficulty producing some greater good, regardless of whether or not we can perceive this at the time.
There will be few reading this who will not be able to look back upon trials in their own lives – and while recognising the particular difficulties of those times, look, too, for the graces which came alongside those trials. See how in those moments, the Lord was never far away.
This is what Saint Paul recommends to us in the Scripture quotation above – that we remain steadfast in our faith in the Lord, taking our strength from Him, relying upon Him and bearing everything for love of Him. In this way, we draw down grace and merit for our own good and for the good of souls, all of this through the infinite kindness of the Lord, Who walks with us always.
Today, let us learn to trust in the Lord a little more than we already do, to be content to leave all things in His hands, knowing that He is with us always and supporting us with His divine grace.