On Gratitude for God's Grace
Why do you look for rest, since you are born to work? Dispose yourself to patience rather than comfort, and to the carrying of the cross rather than pleasure. What man of the world would not gladly receive spiritual comfort and joy, if he were sure of retaining it? For spiritual comfort surpasses all worldly delights and bodily pleasures. All worldly pleasures are either vain or unseemly; spiritual joys alone are pleasant and honorable, for they spring from virtue, and are infused by God into the pure of heart. But no man may enjoy these heavenly consolations at will, for temptations are seldom absent for long.
False liberty of mind and overweening self-confidence are a great hindrance to heavenly visitations. God is generous in granting us the grace of comfort; but man does ill in not returning all to God with gratitude. This is why His gifts of grace cannot flow freely in us, because we are ungrateful to the Giver, and do not return them to their Fount and Source. God will always give grace to those who are grateful, but what He grants to the humble is withheld from the proud.
I desire no consolation that would deprive me of contrition, nor do I aspire to any contemplation that might lead me to pride. For not all that is high is holy; nor all that is pleasant, good; nor every desire pure; nor is all that is dear to us pleasing to God. I gladly accept that grace which makes me ever more humble, more reverent, and more ready to renounce self. For whoever is taught by the gift of grace and chastened by its withdrawal will not presume to attribute any good to himself, but will acknowledge himself poor and devoid of virtue. Render to God whatever is God's, (Matt. 22:21) and attribute to yourself whatever is yours; that is, give thanks to God for His grace, and confess that the guilt and penalty of sin are yours alone.
Set yourself always in the lowest place, (Luke 14:10) and you shall be awarded the highest; for the highest cannot stand without the lowest. The Saints stand highest in God's eyes who are lowest in their own; and the more glorious they are, the more humble is their spirit. Filled with truth and heavenly glory, they have no desire for vainglory. Grounded and established in God, they cannot be proud. They ascribe all goodness to God; they seek no glory from one another, but the glory, which comes from God alone (John 5:44). They desire above all things, and strive always, that God be praised in themselves and in all His Saints.
Be thankful for the smallest blessing, and you will deserve to receive greater. Value the least gifts no less than the greatest and simple graces as especial favors. If you remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the most high God. Even if He awards punishment and pain, accept them gladly, for whatever He allows to befall us is always for our salvation. Let whoever desires to retain the grace of God be thankful for the grace given him, and be patient when it is withdrawn. Let him pray for its return, and let him be prudent and humble lest he lose it once more.
Chapter 34 Table of Contents Chapter 36