The Main Obstacle to Great Sanctity
And How to Overcome It
By Brother Leonard
The words of Christ, Without me you can do nothing (John 15:5), imply that all the work is done by Him. What then, prevents us from ‘tying up’ with his tremendous power, from being an effective instrument in the competent hands of such omnipotence? It is our own will!
God gives the grace necessary for doing all God asks of us. Due to unwillingness to cooperate on our part, many graces are merely sufficient. We have said that God can change our stubborn resistance, if we let God do it. God can change our subjective thinking — this is the way I feel about it, therefore that’s the way it is — into a desire to listen to God. Subjective thinking can keep God from reaching us with simple truths about our obstructions to grace. By giving God permission, we can be stripped of our objections to God’s taking over and we can be clothed with a dynamic desire to reach the Divine.
God has a plan to sanctify us through the action of grace in our souls. God can make us great saints, if we let God do it. We know that God loves us and wants to give us eternal life, yet we do not seem to act that way. On taking thought, we should come to the conclusion that the way out of the dilemma is to give God permission and then determine to accept everything that happens to us. We will then be able to handle anything God sends us. As we have said before, if we prepare ourselves well, the effect can be very deep. Pius XII said in Mediator Dei (1947) that all Christians are victim souls and he suggests that we offer ourselves to God at the offertory of the Mass. We can do that or we can make a deep commitment to this permission in the privacy of our hearts.
Compose a short prayer giving God permission to change you, so that you will more readily respond to grace in accepting what each moment brings. Compose a short prayer giving God permission so to purify you that you can become an effective channel of grace by fully accepting God’s plan for you and for the world. And do not use words like martyr or victim.
About the Author
Brother Leonard O’Dowd, OCSCO (1905-2007) was a graduate of Lexington (MA) High School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Trained as an electrical enginner, he worked for many years at General Electric. In 1945, at age 40, he entered the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of the Valley in Rhode Island. In 1951, Brother Leonard professed his final Solemn Vows at Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. As a lay brother, he served the community as an electrician; designer and tailor of liturgical vestments; and as porter of the monastery. Surrounded by his brother monks, he died in 2007, at 102 years old. The reflection above was printed in Healing Flame of Love, a collection of Brother Leonard’s writing that was published in pamphlet form by Saint Joseph’s Abbey. A limited number of these booklets are available. Please see below.
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