“Be patient with everyone, but above all with thyself. Do not be disheartened by your imperfections, but always rise up with fresh courage” – St Francis De Sales
One question has crossed the minds of many seeking to live a life of holiness. It is a question of ability; “will I be able to remain faithful in the face of temptation or struggle?” It is a question Abraham had to face when God asked him to sacrifice his only son. A question Mary encountered when the Angel Gabriel presented her with the mission of Salvation in Christ. A question Jesus posed to his disciples in Capernaum after teaching about the Bread from Heaven, “will you also go away?”
Our current generation acknowledges the authenticity of this question and hails those who are able to triumphantly overcome it. Their motto: “tried and true”. Why do we have this natural inclination toward authentic fidelity? My guess would be because God put it there and made it a part of our ethical compass.
Considering our present struggles and encounters as well as those of the future, we sometimes tend to doubt our ability to respond virtuously. As if we were lacking in capacity or grace. There might even be times when we consider testing our fidelity. We look at the examples of the saints or martyrs, especially those of our time and think how impossible it would be to reach that level of abandonment and trust. It seems like a sacrificial fairytale of love that could never be lived up to if ever we were presented with such fate. But God is not asking us to take that dramatic leap unnecessarily, he is not asking us to go from giving up a favorite treat to sacrificing our very lives. He does not demand that we go from white martyrdom to red martyrdom. If it is His Will that we cross those flames then so be it he will provide the grace but we should not be self-seekers of such glory.
This does not mean, however, that we lay idly in contempt either. God calls us to greatness, He is asking us to live a life of sanctity. This is a universal call without exceptions, except those we set on ourselves. Every one of us has the capacity to actualize it and is expected to try. But the way in which it is lived out is as numerous as the stars, each path is unique in its own way according to God’s design.
So, how do we respond to temptations and struggles? we do it by accepting God’s grace at every moment. By entering into the habit of examining our strengths and weaknesses in God’s presence. Where is he asking us to grow? what area of our life is he asking us to focus on? What failures is he asking us to ponder on and learn from? What virtue does he ask us to practice at any given moment? There is a level of acceptance that needs to take place in our hearts when it comes to his workings in us. The grace of transformation is there and it is up to us to accept it and willingly embrace it. “God is never wanting. God always gives sufficient grace to whoever is willing to receive it” (St. Francis De Sales).
We should remember this next time we come home from a busy day and begin to ponder its activities. Pondering the various interactions we had, the good and bad, the could have/ should have’s and the questions of future encounters. When we think of what we said, what we did or what others said and did to us and our response. The questions we ask are not a waste of time or a result of over analytic tendencies. This here is a habit with potential. This here is the Examination of Conscience prescribed to us by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Will I Say Yes To Grace? The very act of venturing into the struggle of responding with fidelity to God at every moment is a sign of our YES!