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§ 3. The Virtue of Patience.

Tribulations in this life are most precious gifts of God, and there is no more certain sign of divine election than to bear adversity with humility and resignation for the sake of God. By means of cold, heat, sickness, and every other exterior and interior trial, God purifies, sanctifies, and wonderfully adorns the souls of His elect. And when He sees that they are unable to bear collars of gold, He adorns them at least with garlands of flowers, that is to say, with lighter tribulations. He would never permit even the least breath of wind to disturb His elect, unless He knew that it was expedient for their salvation. It is of more profit to a man to endure even a moderate trial patiently, for the honour and love of God, than to accomplish great works. Humble patience and resignation in adversity, sound sweetly in the ears of God, and bring Him quickly to the aid of the afflicted. Hence the Prophet saith: “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart ” (Ps. xxxiii. 19).

Whatever thou now sufferest, God foresaw from eternity that thou wouldst suffer it in this manner; 161He foresaw the day and the hour when this suffering was to befall thee. But thou hast no reason to be fearful; for the merciful Lord will lay upon thee nothing that will exceed thy strength, which is clearly known to Him. He will most carefully interpose His Hand between thee and the lire of tribulation, lest thou shouldst be too much tormented, as doth an indulgent mother, when she undresses her little child before a material fire. Offer devoutly to God, to His eternal praise, these same tribulations and all thy pains, small as well as great, joined and united to the Passion or the sufferings of Christ; thus will they be of inestimable merit, and most phasing to God.

Learn, I pray thee, to receive solely from the Hand of God, all things that happen to thee, whether in soul or body, or in what belongs to thee; for whatsoever happens, happens by His wise disposal, nor can any misfortune touch thee except by the permission of God. Even did all the demons at once desire to rush upon thee, they could not come nigh thee, unless God permitted it; wherefore thou shouldest not fear them, but God. As I have said, learn to receive from the Hand of the Lord of goodness all things as being best for thee, though perchance such, a calamity and affliction may fall upon thee as may seem to be adverse to thy salvation. For it is impossible that what thou receivest simply from the Hand of the Lord should not be the best and most profitable to thee, since God gives to those of good-will nothing but what is best and most conducive to their salvation; and this is as certain as that God exists. If He were to give 162to Satan the power to vex thee for all the remainder of thy life with horrible bodily sufferings, thou mightest perhaps consider it an intolerable misfortune, and a terrible judgment of God upon thee; and yet it would not only be no hindrance to thy salvation, but would greatly further it, if thou didst receive it from the Hand of God, and endure it humbly for the honour and love of God.

Thou must also receive from the Hand of the most merciful God those afflictions and crosses of which thou art thyself the cause, or which happen from thy own fault. Yet thou must ever lament the evil thou hast done, and by no means lay the blame of it on God, who can never be the author of sin; nor on the devil, who had not the power of forcing thee to sin; but impute it solely to thyself, who didst consent to sin. Whenever any vexation or hardship is inflicted on thee by creatures, turn straightway the eyes of thy heart to thy Heavenly Creator and Father, who, out of love, permits this for thy good. Let thy mind dwell rather on Him, than on the creatures which bring the tribulation, for these are as it were the instruments, the tools which the Supreme Artificer uses as He wills, and as He knows to be profitable to His elect. If thou art disturbed and losest patience as often as men speak evil of thee or thine, or inflict any injury upon thee, thy tranquillity of mind rests not on God, but is placed in men, and depends on men. And if this were so, then verily wouldst thou be most unhappy and miserable.

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