We ought to practice conformity to the will of God when we are deprived of those exterior aids to our spiritual well-being that He pleases to withdraw from us. For example a friend or counselor on whom you rely for help and encouragement is taken away from you and you seem unable to get along without him. There is, in fact, some truth in what you feel, in that you really need the help of someone, and the friend or counselor had been given to you for that very reason. But does God love you less now than He did when He made the gift? Is He no longer your Father? Or does such a Father as He is desert His children? Your guide and friend has been of value to you so far, but is he the right person to help you in what you are called to do now?
Christ our divine Master said of Himself to His Apostles: It is expedient for you that I depart, for if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go I will send him to you. Who then can venture to say that it is not an advantage for him to lose a friend or spiritual adviser, however excellent, wise or holy he may be? But, you may answer, how do I know it is not a punishment my sins have brought on me? It may well be so, but the punishments of a father become salutary remedies for obedient children. If you wish to stay the anger of your heavenly Father, soften His heart and even oblige Him to send you fresh graces, then accept your punishment, and in return for your trustful surrender to Him He will either find you someone to help you even better than before, or He Himself in His goodness will deign to be your guide. He will send you His Holy Spirit as He sent Him to His Apostles, He will enlighten your path and fortify you by the action of His grace.
Let us take another example. You are living a good Christian life in the practice of your religion. You fall seriously ill and cannot frequent the Sacraments or assist at Mass—perhaps you feel too weak even to pray. But do not grieve. You are called to the honor of nourishing your soul by partaking, with Christ Himself, of a food that, perhaps, you know not of, and which will be the means of making your illness a powerful means of sanctification. My food, He said to His disciples, is to do the will of Him who sent me. It is the same food that is offered to you, and note well that it is only by this food that it is given to us to live to eternal life. Prayer itself is valueless unless it is vitalized by this healthgiving food, as our Saviour explained when He said: Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven.
If then it is God who has placed you in the condition you are in, it is He who dispenses you from the practices of your religion, nay, forbids them. So you should not worry, but remember that in exchange He expects you to take more care in doing His Will by giving up your own. It is in order that you may make the doing of His Will your chief food that the means to do it are so frequently given. How many inconveniences and sacrifices are in fact imposed upon us by illness!—plans upset, expense incurred, unpleasant remedies, perhaps, loneliness and lack of care—a host of large and small annoyances. There are so many opportunities to say, ‘God wishes it so. His Will be done.’ Do not let any of these opportunities pass and you will be among those souls most dear to Christ. For whoever, He said, does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, my sister, and my mother.