Is It Really This Easy?

Thanks to the folks at Daily Gospel Online,  here is a meditation by Blessed Charles de Foucauld that seems particularly timely as we draw closer to Lent.  I found his turn of phrase “a little good will” evocative and reassuring:  he makes salvation seem easy to reach, and it makes the Ash Wednesday call to “turn away from sin and believe the Gospel” less daunting.

God has not made salvation depend on knowledge, intelligence, wealth, long experience, special gifts that not everyone has received : no ! He has made it depend on what lies within the hands of everyone, absolutely everyone, young and old, people of every age and class, all levels of intelligence and fortune. He has made it depend on what everyone, absolutely everyone, is able to give him; what every person, whoever he may be, can give him with a little good will. A little bit of good will! This is all it takes to win the heaven Jesus attaches to humility, to making oneself small, to taking the lowest place, to obeying, and that he attaches too, besides, to poverty of spirit, purity of heart, love of justice, the spirit of peace and so on (Mt 5,3f.). Let us have hope, since by God’s mercy salvation is so near to us, in our hands, and since a little good will is all it takes to obtain it.  

—Meditations on the passages of the holy Gospels relating to the fifteen virtues, no.69, Nazareth 1897-98

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  • Johnboy

    Lenten blessings, David et al!

    Yes, it really is that easy. That simple, too.

    If we look at Bernardian love 1) of self for sake of self 2) of God for sake of God 3) of God for sake of God 4) of self for sake of God …

    If we consider Ignatius’ Degrees of Humility …

    Or, simply, the Act of Contrition, where we consider God’s just punishment and also our offending God, Whom we so love, the latter being perfect, the former being imperfect, contrition …

    It has always been clear that the erotic quest for God vis a vis “what’s in it for me?”
    or mere enlightened self-interest has always been — not only necessary, but — sufficient.
    The agapic quest has a different end, the means of which, nevertheless, are also suitable to those of the erotic and would meets its demands, for example, mercy and charity fulfilling the demands of justice, while clearly exceeding them.

    Of course, this all means that the Old Covenant remains efficaciously in place, while the New Covenant remains an invitation we tend to accept, then, forget, over and over, as we repeatedly repent and practice the Good News. Just a little goodwill takes us into New Testament territory!

    • Johnboy

      ERRATUM: If we look at Bernardian love 1) of self for sake of self 2) of GOD for sake of SELF 3) of God for sake of God 4) of self for sake of God …

  • Julia Smucker

    Reminds me of this passage from Moses’ long discourse in Deuteronomy (ch. 30:11-14):

    “Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.”

  • Agellius

    I’m reminded of these passages from “The Consolation of the Devout Soul, by Fr. Joseph Frassinetti:

    “But what is required, you will ask, to fulfil the Holy Will of God ? I
    answer, nothing more and nothing less than the observance of the
    commandments of God’s law, and of the Church which commands us by
    Divine authority. If you fulfil well these commandments you accomplish
    the Holy Will of God, and by this you are holy. Such is the doctrine
    of St. Thomas, the angelic doctor (2–2, q. 184, a. 3).”

    * * *

    “On the other hand, certain men of later times, who fancied that they
    had found the path of perfection in the wild woods of terror, taught
    that every soul, however good it may be, ought to live in continual
    anxiety, and never allow themselves to feel sure of being in a state
    of Divine grace, but should remain constantly suspended in a state of
    doubt, as in a pair of scales, until death, waiting to see at that
    supreme moment whether they shall fall into the embrace of Almighty
    God or into the arms of Satan. This also is an error.

    “It is true that we cannot have an infallible certainty, of Divine
    faith, that we are in a state of grace, but we can have a presumptive
    certainty, which is a sufficient assurance for us, and keeps us in
    peace and tranquillity. Is not a son, who does not remember to have
    ever given grave displeasure to his father, or if he ever did so, has
    endeavoured to satisfy him by a true repentance, — is he not, by
    presumptive reasons, certain of possessing his father’s love ? Does he
    not feel so certain of it that he is able to be in peace and

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

      Thanks for this quote! Though I must admit that the first paragraph makes it sound much more onerous than “a little bit of good will.”

      • Agellius

        Onerous? It struck me as the opposite, maybe because I read it in context. I found it comforting, because his main point was that holiness is within reach of anyone. It doesn’t require extraordinary spiritual gifts and experiences, but merely striving to follow God’s will. As he says in the preceding paragraph, “Remember, then, O devout soul, in whatever state and condition you find yourself, that if you strive to follow the Will of God you are holy, and that the more you try to carry it out perfectly the more holy will you be.” And following God’s will, of course, means obeying the commandments.

        In short, so long as you avoid mortal sin you are in the state of sanctifying grace, and therefore holy, and therefore, as expressed in the third paragraph, need not fear for your salvation.

        He goes on in later chapters to talk about how none of this means you should neglect good works, but that these should be done not out of fear for your salvation but out of charity.