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Monday, 15 April 2013

Part 118: Doctors of the Church and Perfection: Alphonsus Ligouri

Recently, I have been very ill .

I realized too painfully the state of my soul through this illness.

I saw my impatience and annoyance at being ill. I was crabby and not peaceful because I wanted to do things instead of being ill. I had to change my travel plans seriously.

Here is what St. Alphonsus states, which helps us on our road to perfection.

Sickness is the acid test of spirituality, because it discloses
whether our virtue is real or sham.

If the soul is not agitated, does not break out in lamentations, is
not feverishly restless in seeking a cure, but instead is submissive
to the doctors and to superiors, is serene and tranquil, completely
resigned to God's will, it is a sign that that soul is well- grounded
in virtue.
What of the whiner who complains of lack of attention? That his
sufferings are beyond endurance? That the doctor does not know his
business? What of the faint-hearted soul who laments that the hand of
God is too heavy upon him?

This story by St. Bonaventure in his "Life of St. Francis" is in
point: On a certain occasion when the saint was suffering
extraordinary physical pain, one of his religious meaning to
sympathize with him, said in his simplicity: "My Father, pray God
that he treat you a little more gently, for his hand seems heavy upon
you just now." Hearing this, St. Francis strongly resented the
unhappy remark of his well-meaning brother, saying: "My good brother,
did I not know that what you have just said was spoken in all
simplicity, without realizing the implication of your words, I should
never see you again because of your rashness in passing judgment on
the dispositions of divine providence." Whereupon, weak and wasted as
he was by his illness, he got out of bed, knelt down, kissed the
floor and prayed thus: "Lord, I thank thee for the sufferings thou
art sending me. Send me more, if it be thy good pleasure. My pleasure
is that you afflict me and spare me not, for the fulfillment of thy
holy will is the greatest consolation of my life."

If you really want God to show you your imperfections and sin, just pay attention to how you respond to illness. 

The way to perfection can be long and hard, but one must decide to follow this path.

Only the perfect see God. 

To be continued....