Suffering and Providence

From Saint Francis de Sales’ Treatise on the Love of God:

Considered in themselves, trials certainly cannot be loved, but looked at in their origin – that is, in God’s Providence and ordaining will – they are worthy of unlimited love…

The Stoics, particularly good Epictetus, placed all their philosophy in this: to abstain and sustain; to forbear and to bear up under; to abstain from and to forbear earthly pleasures, delights, and honors, and to sustain and to bear up under injuries, labors, and troubles. Christian doctrine, the sole true philosophy, has three principles on which it bases all its practices: self-denial, which is far more than to abstain from pleasures; to carry Christ’s cross, which is far more than to lift it up; and to follow our Lord, not only in renouncing self and in carrying His Cross, but also in whatever belongs to the practice of every kind of good work. Still it is evident that there is not as much love in self-denial and such deeds as in suffering. In fact, in Sacred Scripture, the Holy Spirit points out that the climax in our Lord’s love for us is the Passion and death He suffered for us.

To love God’s will in consolations is a good love when it is truly God’s will we love and not the consolation wherein it lies. Still, it is a love without opposition, repugnance, or effort. Who would not love so worthy a will in so agreeable a form?

To love God’s will in His commandments, counsels, and inspirations is the second degree of love and it is much more perfect. It carries us forward to renounce and give up our own will, and enables us to abstain from and forbear many pleasures, but not all of them.

To love suffering and affliction out of love for God is the summit of most holy charity. In it nothing is pleasant but the divine will alone; there is great opposition on the part of our nature; and not only do we forsake all pleasures, but we embrace torments and labors.


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