All unhappiness (when there is no immediate cause for sorrow) comes from excessive concentration on the past or from extreme preoccupation with the future.
A conscience burdened with the guilt of past sins is fearful of divine judgement. But God in His mercy has given us two remedies for such an unhappiness. One is the sacrament of penance, which blots out the past by remission of our sins and lightens the future by means of hope through an amendment of our lives.
Nothing in human existence is as effective in curing our memory or imagination as confession; it cleanses us of our guilt, and if we follow Christ, we shall be put completely out of mind of our confessed sins.
The second remedy is stated by Fulton Sheen as, "The Sanctification of the Moment"--or the "Now." Our Lord even spells out for us what we are to do:
"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today" (Mt 6:34).
This means that each day has its own trials; we are not to borrow troubles from tomorrow because that day will soon have its cross. We are to leave the past to God's mercy and to trust in Him for the future, whatever its trials may be.
Each minute of life has its particular duty--whatever the appearance that duty may take. The Now-moment is the moment of salvation. Each will of God is a dreaded command to us, but we should wish that the wills of God were multiplied, that there might be more frequent opportunities for our service to Him. Those who truly love God will not protest, no matter what He may ask of them.
A sick person takes medicine without asking the doctor to justify its bitter taste, because the patient has trust in the doctor's knowledge; in the same way the soul that has faith accepts all the events of life as gifts from God, and embraces them with open arms.
This is no small task, no doubt!! If you were to read any doctor of the church you would find them writing about the same thing we are discussing right now. This is something human beings will always be fighting to overcome. It takes a lifetime, and we will not know the fruits of our labor until we reach our eternal kingdom.
But each of these trials and sufferings carries a message God has directed personally to us. Nothing is more individually made to our spiritual needs than the Now-moment.
Those who sanctify the moment, and offer it up in union with God's will, never become frustrated--they never grumble or complain. They overcome all obstacles by making them occasions of prayer. What are often "hard-times" are then made opportunities of growth and trust in God.
It is strange how we accept misfortune--or even an insult. For example; if someone were to stomp on our foot accidentally we would become resentful and upset; but if it were a movie star that accidentally stepped on our foot we would probably boast about the moment to our friends!
So, we are able to adapt with grace to the demands of every Now-moment when we recognize God's will and purpose behind the trials and tribulations of life.
We are all hungry to do great things for God, and we complain that we have no opportunities to carry out such a great mission. But whenever the food is overdone, no good parking available, or the event cancelled we become upset for the rest of the day. We miss our opportunities to love and serve God in the little things He asks of us. God speaks to us in a whisper, but we don't hear Him because we are too busy listening for a trumpet. We should quiet our own wills so that we would be able to hear the will of the one who is really important!
It is in these little daily chores that saints find holiness. To accept the crosses of our state of life because they come from an all-loving God is to have taken the first step in the reform of our world. It is the reformation of the self.
This habit of embracing the Now and glorifying God through His demands is an act of our loving will. We do not need to know God's plan in order to accept it. We can be cured by a medicine (staying with the doctor examples! =D) without knowing its prescription or its ingredients. Just our will to be resigned to Him, and to suffering will give us a far greater understanding of theology than anything else.
"Some souls will gain peace and sanctity from the same trials that make others rebels and nervous wrecks." (Fulton Sheen-- Yes i started reading some of his writings! =D)
Neither the devil nor God can take our will. We are absolute owners in deciding whether we offer our will to ourselves or to God. Our will, operating under our own power, may be busy doing many things, but in the end they amount to nothing. But our will operating under God's will and power can amount to such great things that we cannot even conceive until we reach heaven.
Fiat Voluntas Tua; "Thy will be done." What a wonderful phrase. To say and mean this is to put an end to all complaining; for whatever the moment brings to us is now borne by the Divine will of God.
If we follow completely in God's will we should be able to escape from the accidents that caused us pain and anger. Our life will be carried out in accordance to God's will. No longer will things "Not go according to our plan." People of God's will utter no complaint; whatever comes along they welcome it.
In God's divinity, there is nothing accidental. There is, instead, the meeting of a divine will and the offering of our own wills up to God. In this, we become content, because we know that God knows what is best for us. So then the bitter and the sweet, the joys and the sorrows of each and every moment are viewed as sanctity.
Even the bitterest of life's punishments are known to be joys in the making under their harsh and ugly appearances. Even our enemies can become occasions of advancement in union with God. Each trial is an occasion for faith and love in God.
"Only God changes things for the better. But He does this through us if we give Him the opportunity to use us. There is no limit to how much God gives us except the limits that we put on Him by our self-centeredness and lack of trust. We must constantly be aware of the limits we place and must relentlessly push thier limits back." (Fr. Groeschel--"The Reform of Renewal")
How can we be called to embrace suffering? How can we be called to love to suffer or endure slander? The only answer lies in our love of God. God will only give us what we can handle.
Mother Angelica once said, "Often, in the gray light of dawn, a chill comes over me. I ask what more I could have done if I had really trusted God."
At first thought one thinks of this being a touching act of humility, but if we are to look closer at what she said we find that she was right. We can always do more if we try to push back the limitations set by our own fears and shame.
Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God to whom you belong will in his love enable you to profit by them. He has guided you thus far in life. Do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, He will carry you lovingly in his arms.
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Eternal Father who takes care of you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations.