Of all the wills that surround me, the one always trying to damn me and the most successful at it is my own. Recently I discovered this when my sheep broke out of their fence. It occurred to me that God had willed this inconvenience, and I even had the presence of mind or the ear attuned to my guardian angel which told me that it was only my will that was frustrated by this, that my concern for my potato garden was not only a worldly attachment, but an absolute betrayal of what I had meditated upon and resolved upon when I planted it. For I had thought of St Isidore back then. I realized that the pleasure which I was deriving by successfully planting the garden was disordered, and that it was setting me up for sin, and so I resolved to do it only for the purpose of penance. God cursed Adam to toil, and I was toiling voluntarily, as my wife undergoes birth pains voluntarily, as Christ was nailed to the Cross voluntarily, as Our Lady sacrificed Him voluntarily, and there was merit in that for the supernatural rewards of Heaven.
That is to say, on the one hand, I could have planted potatoes and researched and labored strenuously with the idea in mind that I would not have to get potatoes from the store. I could have meditated upon the glory of my own ability to provide for my family. I could have revelled in the security which this would lend me, and the goodness of it, and how it appealed not only to my neighbors and their opinions of me, but also to the parish, and to myself, and my desire to be known as a man in the world. And God, Who is just, would reward me most likely with potatoes, although by His Mercy, which is over and above His Justice, He may have kept some of these potatoes back, or blighted them, or done some other such thing to break this Irish heart's grip on the potatoes.
Instead, at that time, for a few moments of the hours I labored, I thought of St. Isidore. I pictured to myself that realm of light and beauty which is above us, the one we see when we look at the sky. Flying beyond that, I saw a pale imagination of what St. Paul saw in the third Heaven. For far beyond these glittering and barren stars, there is a barrier of some kind, probably of ice, and then past that is a place full of such goodness and joy which man cannot conceive. Nevertheless, I tried to conceive it. For that will be eternal and last forever. Already, I have friends there who beckon me, and what is this world of dust that offers nothing to me? Potatoes are dirt and starch. I revel in that? Am I an animal?
This was my sentiment at the time, and then my sheep broke out, and I sinned. God Himself showed me mercy this way, and my mind wandered hard until I touched on it. For meekness is the second virtue after humility which my soul needs as much as a chick needs a hen.
To solve this, I resolved no longer to give my will its customary place. This, too, I see pictured in my daughter. Because she will take a thing, or do a thing, or go to a place, and then after she has acquired the object of her will, she will ask my permission. If I refuse it and punish her, because she has already overstepped her bounds, then she stages such a rebellion as the writers of the Declaration only dreamed of, and it is because her sense of justice is the fulfillment of her own will.
So my will does the same thing. It takes its first place in every situation and only afterwards stops to consider the pleasure of God, or the motives of holiness, or the needs of my family, or any other thing. And so my resolution has been to disown it. I have decided to take any other person’s will (I surround myself with people who do not labor for my damnation, which is a very rare thing) and serve that as if it were my own.
We will see how it goes. Pray for me.
And for the title, these Protestants obscure everything. They might as well say white blackness or evil goodness. They have no idea what it is to be a servant, because it means to be a slave. Oh to be a slave to Our Lord! Oh how blessed were those slaves of the South who had only to serve their masters and never worry over anything, and thereby justify themselves in Heaven! For the only true evil is sin, and the only true slavery is to the Devil. A king who is slave to his passions is a slave indeed, and a slave who is master of them is a king indeed. One of the worst things this country ever did was abolish slavery, because it has had the effect of enacting the worst kind of slavery ever invented. In the antebellum South, no black man had to sign a document throwing away his own morality in favor of the company policy, and if he had to resist his master for religion’s sake (I know of no examples), then a martyr’s crown was in store for him. What crown is in store for us who can rightly discern the correct measures to resist this thing and obey all the rest as if we had no will of our own, but only God’s and our master’s, and then suffer the sort of martyrdom of which this depraved world has conceived after two thousand years of the devil’s twistings, fifteen hundred of Islam, one thousand of schism, five hundred of heresy, two hundred of confusion, and sixty of betrayal? I hope a great one.
May the Lord reward you,
Holy Martyrs of Lyons, pray for us,
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy upon us,