The Struggle Within

By Mother M. Angelica

Man is capable of heroic sacrifice and he accomplishes these feats of endurance best when he wants to do them with all his heart. Sacrifices that are imposed against his Will, rob him of the spirit so necessary to do great things. A mother thinks nothing of caring for a sick child day and night. A stranger would feel it a great sacrifice. He would not manifest those tender acts of thoughtfulness that make nursing so Christlike.

Love moves the Will in whatever direction love takes. If our love is self-oriented, our actions will be geared toward self-satisfaction only. Unless our Will is directed toward a higher good, we shall not reach our potential. No matter what great things we accomplish in the world it will be as nothing if our motive for good and great works is selfish.

St. Paul reminded us of this when he said that if we gave everything we possessed to the poor without love it would be nothing. It is disheartening to realize it is possible to deprive ourselves of our most prized possessions and it is as nothing before God. Certainly our Will is determined and strong when we accomplish good works. How then could it be nothing in the Eyes of God? (I Cor. 13:3)

The struggle within does not lie in the strength of our Will but in the prime mover of that Will. What is our motive for doing what we do?

Jesus told us that if we do good works to be seen by men we have received our reward. (Matt. 6:1-2) What were Jesus and Paul telling us when they pulled the rug from under our complacent attitudes?

They were both saying the same thing and we need to see why it is possible to be kind and generous and not be doing the Will of God. Certainly kindness and generosity are fruits of the Spirit, but they can also be natural fruits-fruits of our own desire for praise and glory.

The guiding force of all our actions should be to please God, manifest our love for Him and aid our neighbor.

Whatever self-gratification there may be in our works it is secondary—a fringe benefit enjoyed but not sought after. The determining factor is the love of God, not personal glory. This is difficult to attain and only His grace can make us rise above ourselves and seek only Him.

When our Will is directed to the honor and glory of God above our own, we have peace of mind. The constant friction between our Will and God's leads to most of the unhappiness in our lives. We can understand this better if we draw a verbal picture of ourselves alienated from His Will.