Chapter Three Confidence in God and Our Temporal Necessities
We Must Not Trouble Ourselves about the Future
God provides for our necessities.
“Be not solicitous,” says Our Lord. What is the exact sense of this counsel? In order to obey the directions of the Master, must we completely neglect our temporal affairs?
We do not doubt that, at times, grace asks from certain souls the sacrifice required by strict poverty and total abandonment to Providence.
Nevertheless, the rarity of these vocations is notable. The others, be they religious communities or individuals, have goods; they must manage them prudently.
The Holy Ghost praises the strong woman who knows how to govern her house well. In the Book of Proverbs, He shows her to us rising very early to distribute to her servants their daily tasks and working with her own hands as well. Nothing escapes her watchfulness. The members of her household have nothing to fear. Thanks to her foresight, they shall have what is necessary, agreeable, and even, to a certain extent, moderately luxurious. Her children proclaim her blessed, and her husband exalts her virtues.2
The Truth would not have praised that woman so warmly if she had not fulfilled her obligations.
It behoves us, then, not to afflict ourselves. We must occupy ourselves reasonably with our obligations, not allowing ourselves to be dominated by anguish over the sombre prospects of the future, and counting without hesitation on the aid of Divine Providence.
Have no illusions! Such confidence demands great strength of soul. We have to avoid a double shoal: an excess and a deficiency. On the one hand, he who, from negligence, takes no interest in his obligations and affairs cannot hope for extraordinary help from God without tempting Him. On the other hand, he who gives his material concerns the first place in his thoughts, who counts more upon himself than upon God, deceives himself even more crassly; he robs the Most High of the place in his life that belongs to Him.
“In medio stat virtus”: Between these two extremes duty is found.
If we have taken prudent care of our interests, to be afflicted about the future would amount to ignoring and despising the power and the goodness of God.
During the long years Saint Paul the Hermit lived in the desert, a crow brought him a half loaf of bread every day. One day Saint Anthony came to visit the illustrious solitary. The two saints conversed for a long time, forgetting during their pious meditations the necessity for food. But Providence thought of them: The crow came, this time carrying a whole loaf.
The heavenly Father created the whole universe with one single word; can it be difficult for Him to assist His sons in their hour of need? Saint Camillus of Lellis went into debt in order to help the sick poor. Seeing this, his fellow religious became alarmed. “Why doubt Providence?” the Saint quieted them. “Can it be difficult for Our Lord to give us a little of those goods that He heaps upon the Jews and the Turks, enemies one and the other of our Faith?”3 The confidence of Camillus was not disappointed; one month later, one of his protectors, upon dying, left him a considerable sum.
To be afflicted about the future constitutes a lack of confidence that offends God and provokes His anger.
When the Hebrews became lost in the sands of the desert after their flight from Egypt, they forgot the miracles that the Lord had worked in their favour. They were afraid and murmured: “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?… Can He also give bread, or provide a table for His people?” These words angered the Lord. He hurled down fire from heaven upon them; His wrath fell over Israel, “because they believed not in God: and trusted not in His salvation.”4
There is no need to be afflicted; the Father watches over us.