The Penance


Monastery We read in the Sacred Scripture that the Lord spoke to his people, speaking of the need to do good works to please them and to be part of the number of saints:
The things I ask you are not above your strength, to do them, you do not have to lift yourself up to the clouds or cross the seas.

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Charity and Prayer

Curate d'Ars

Everything I command you is, to speak, at your fingertips, in your heart and around you. "I can repeat the same thing: it is true, we will never have the fortune to go to heaven unless we do good works; but not be afraid: what Jesus Christ asks us are not extraordinary things or above our abilities, does not ask us to stay all day in church, not even to make great penances, that is to ruin our health, nor even to give all ours to the poor (though it is true that we are obliged to give the poor as we can, and that we must do it to please God who commands us and redeems our sins).

It is true that we must practice mortification in many things, tame our inclinations. But, you will tell me, there are more than one who cannot fast, others who cannot give alms, others who are so busy that they often fail to do their prayer in the morning and in the evening; how, then, will they be able to save themselves, since they have to be praying continually and necessarily have to do good works to conquer the heaven? Since all your good works are reduced to prayer, fasting, and lust, we can easily do all this, as you will see.

Yes, even if we had a bad health or we were sick, there is a fast that we can easily do. We are all too poor, we can still do alms, and as great as our occupations, we can pray to the good God without being disturbed in our business, praying in the evening and in the morning, and even all day. And here's how. We practice a fast that is very pleasing to God, whenever we deprive ourselves of anything we would like to do, because fasting is not everything in the deprivation of drinking and eating, but in the deprivation of what pleases us to our taste ; one can become mortified in the way of adjusting, the others in the visits they want to make to friends they like to see, the others, in the words and speeches they love to hold; he makes a great fast and is very pleased with God when we fights our own love, our pride, our repugnance to do what we do not like to do, or with people who oppose his character, his ways of acting.

But, tell me, is there still a fast that is more pleasing to God than doing and suffering patiently certain things that are often very unpleasant? Not to mention the illnesses, infirmities and so many other afflictions that are inseparable from our miserable life, how often do we have the opportunity to mortify ourselves, accepting what is inconvenient and repulsive to us? Now it is a job that annoys us, now an unpleasant person, at other times it is a humiliation that costs us to endure. Well, if we accept all this for the good God, and only to please him, these are the fastest worships of God.

We say there is a kind of alms that everyone can do.

You see that alms do not only consist in nourishing those who are hungry, and in giving clothes to those who do not; but all the favors that are made to the neighbor, both for the body and for the soul, when we do it in the spirit of charity. When we have little, well, we give little; and when we do not, we borrow, if we can. He who cannot provide for the needs of the sick can, well, visit them, tell them some words of consolation, and pray for them, so that they may make good use of their illness. Yes, everything is great and precious in the eyes of God when we act for a reason of religion and charity, for Christ's gesture tells us that a glass of water does not remain without reward. You see, though, that we are very poor, we can easily do alms.

I say that for greats that are our occupations, there is a kind of prayer we can do continually, even without distracting us from our occupations, and here's how it is. It consists, in everything we do, to do nothing but the will of God. Tell me; it seems very difficult to make the effort to do only God's will in all our actions, however small they are.