From Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.
If certain situations seem to us incomprehensible, if we cannot see the reason why particular circumstances and creatures make us suffer, it is because we do not see the place they occupy in the plan of divine Providence in which everything is ordered for our ultimate good. Yes, even suffering itself is ordered for our good, and God, who is infinite goodness, neither wills nor permits it except for this purpose. We believe all this in theory but we easily forget it in practice, so much so, that when we find ourselves in obscure, painful situations which upset or interfere with our plans and wishes, we are disturbed and our lips formulate the anguished question: “Why does God permit this?” However, the answer, as universal and infallible as divine Providence itself, is always the same: God permits it solely for our good. We need to be firmly convinced of this so that we may not be scandalized by the trials of life. “All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to them that seek after His covenant and His testimonies” (Ps 24:10); we can mistrust ourselves, our goodness and our faithfulness, but we cannot mistrust God who is infinite goodness and faithfulness.
At our retreat Mike read from Mystici Corporis, and one item which came up for discussion was the error of "Quietism." I hadn't read about Quietism in perhaps a decace, and my understanding of it (at the time of the retreat discussion) was abbreviated, and it was clear that we all groped for that which we did not quite grasp; and not quietly!
When I read the above meditation, it immediately touched me in how it relates to the trials we all are undergoing. If we consider for a moment, our days in school; the teacher at his whim subjects us to homework and tests. The homework we grudgingly work through, and the tests we almost universally dread! Yet, the teacher does this not to make our life miserable, but that we may grow in knowledge and wisdom (in theory, anyway). Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Wisdom of God, has also ordered things so that we have "homework" and "tests" - we haven't chosen these assignments, He has arranged them in our lives for our benefit.
So if we look at these events as "attacks from Satan" or simply as events which we do not want, we have missed their value in our life. We are responding in an all too human understanding of events. If we look at them in "the light of heaven" and see God's hand in it, we can find a remarkable degree of peace, even as we did the one time we were confronted with a pop quiz for which we were unprepared, and accepted our failure instead of fighting what we could not change.
The meditation also brought to mind that to focus in exclusion on the acceptance of the trials in our live, and the peace which we can attain therein, could lead us to a place where we simply failed to "work out our salvation in fear and trembling" My thought was immediately the error of Quietism, which a quick read (Catholic Encyclopedia article Quietism, at New Advent) indicated that I had this in part, although the whole is far greater than I remembered. I heartily recommend a read.
St. Teresa of Avila, borrowing from St. Augustine, said that we should "pray as though everything depended on God, and work as though everything depended on us." this balance, so evident in the genius of Christ's institution of the Church, when tilted to one side at the exclusion of the other, takes us off the Way. this thought is captured well by the famous serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Since mid-December, I have been on a special assignment which has precluded me from much posting on this blog. As of today that assignment has changed and entered a new phase which has allowed me to decamp my temporary living situation of the last seven months. God willing, may this parting of company be of mutual benefit as intended.