This short reflection was written by a Carthusian monk but could have easily be written by any lay person who is in love with God. We are usually much more enamored of our image of ourselves, our lifestyle and our own expectations than we are of God, our Creator and the only Good. Because He loved us first, He is constantly striving to help us disentangle ourselves from ourselves and our idols, which are all inevitably dead ends.
Patience and perseverance are . . . the fruit of great force and great faith. It is not resignation but the deliberate embracing of a dearly loved will: an act of love all the purer in that it has only one thing to say: fiat. Yes, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Father, your will, not mine.
Christ saw his executioners as agents of his Father’s will. We in our turn must learn to see this same will, this same love, in all the circumstances, pleasant or unpleasant, that surround our life.
We come here as to an ideal place in which all is planned and ordered in function of the search for God, and for the full blossoming out of love towards God and our brothers. Such is our expectation; but we carry within us a very idealized picture of its realization. And so many things turn out differently. There are those who come in search of tranquillity, shelter, a quiet life; on the contrary, they find themselves struggling with forces within themselves whose existence they never suspected. Our faults are a barrier; our brothers are imperfect and different from us; sin affects our relationships; the institution is ponderous and opaque; and God seems to take a malicious pleasure in thwarting our ideas.
In fact he is doing us the great service of stripping us of much of our egoism and childishness, of our attachments and disordered desires. In so doing he separates the sheep from the goats. Only when the secondary benefits we expected from our vocation are seen to be more or less illusory, can the essential aim, union with God, be embraced in all its purity – otherwise one leaves.
Perseverance in such a situation is conducive to contemplation, for we find ourselves poor and naked before the Lord, ready at last to receive the incomprehensible gift which he wishes to give us, and not a construct of our own imagination.
We have to know how to stand firm in pure faith when we seem to be only weakness, seem to be only sin. We have to consent in advance to all that, to the desert of the desert. We have to desire the purity which suffering alone can teach.
It seems to me perseverance is a great school of humility; a gradual coming to know this self which persist in time, whose features become defined, whose character traits recur, whose limits take shape. Through trial one discovers one’s own heart, and becomes an authentic person situated in the real.”