Question not the circumstances in which you find yourself. Ask not why you have been given your task and station, but learn to accept it with peace and resignation. When a thing is completed, no matter how bad the outcome, say to yourself this too was God’s will and learn to accept it with gratitude. This is a hard teaching and some cannot accept, especially in the face of overwhelming evil. Do not force this teaching on anyone. Be careful of whom you share it with, but if you accept it you will find the path to contemplation and stillness of spirit.
When waking up in the morning, give your heart to prayer. Say everything is a gift of grace, most especially my failures. Enter into prayer as if they greatest thing you could do is to bury all the concerns of this world under a cloud of forgetting. Pray about your life as to surrender everything to the Lord. Then, when you work, put all your energy into it as if the whole world depended on your task, no matter how small the matter. Hold before your gaze the thought that your task is the most important in all the world and you must carry out it out with motivation and precision. In this way, you will find great peace when you pray and great motivation when you work.
All of doctrine is true and good for enlightenment, but not all doctrine is useful in all situations. When praying, it is good to rest in God’s will and his grace. When working, it is good to think often of free will. We can think of doctrine as a ladder. We climb the heights and see the beauty of God, but we must come back down to engage in this world. So in prayer we climb and meditate on the truth and beauty of our Lord, but when we work we descend and think only of the here and now.
Before beginning some work, say to yourself that it’s outcome is known to God alone and trust that no matter what, it will be for the glory of God. This applies to successes as well as failures. Work against every vexation of the enemy that robs you have your stillness and dash these thoughts against the rock of God’s providence. But when you work, assume that every aspect of the thing to be done is within your control and requires the best of you. Having rested before in prayer, now spend yourself in service. This is how I believe we should understand the proverb of St Benedict who says “Work and pray.”
Question not if you are called to the heights of holiness. By its very nature, one who even thinks to ask about such things already shows a certain amount of God’s grace operating on their heart. Assume anyone who is standing before you is called to the heights of holiness. If a man desired ordination, assume the desire itself is a sign of God’s election until shown otherwise by defect or lack of perseverance. Yes, scripture and tradition teach that there are the reprobate and those who have not been spared through God’s mercy. But don’t dwell on this except in prayer if it should lead to contemplation and stillness.
When teaching, it is good to challenge people to believe that all things lie within their grasp. Speak as though everyone is called to the heights of holiness. Those who trust such teaching have probably been prepared to receive by God’s providence and those who have not probably stopped listening before you opened your mouth.
Understand this, most of separates men and women of different classes and status is the dispensation of God’s gifts by his mercy and not according to our merit. To one he gives generous talents and abilities, and to another he gives less. But say not that the person who has been given more is the luckier. Among the people of this world, there are many who are first now who will be last and vice-versa, as our Lord says. Even among teachers and preachers, some our Lord has given greater gifts than others. Say not that the eloquent speaker is holier than the simple parish priest. Holiness is not a matter of eloquence, but rather of prayer and the things of the heart which are hidden to our perception. Yes, it is good to admire the beauty and talent that God bestows on mere mortals, be it in sports or speech or creativity or leadership or knowledge… but be careful to say that such people are better for it. Every talent we have is a gift from the Lord. Strive to reach your full potential and be not jealous of what God has done for another.
In our youth, it is good for us to have a moderate amount of dissatisfaction with ourselves and the world. It is good for the young of this world to believe that all lies within their grasp and that through hard work and effort they can achieve anything. We know this is incomplete. Not all people can do all things, but it is good for us to strive so as to win as St Paul says… if we are too passive in our youth, we will never reach our full potential. But as we advance in years, it is good to spend time meditating on how all that we have and have been given is a gift from God according to his mercy and not our merit. We can delight that when the Lord visited, we responded, but we should stand in wonder and awe before the reality that we have been chosen by his providence. We should learn to see that in all things, he has revealed his glory and we should give thanks for all that we have experienced, the good and the bad. If we can do this later in life, we will be prepared for death and we will enjoy the sweet repose of contemplation.