TO HAVE MUCH AMBITION is a great cross: it is prodigious folly for one to think himself capable of everything. Our capacity and abilities are limited: God, says Saint Paul, divides his graces. When he sends us to labor in his vineyard, he gives us precisely what is necessary for us. When he places us in any office, he assigns us that portion of grace requisite for us to discharge it well. Thus to speak correctly we possess talents only to do what God commands us to do; in any other thing, we are as incapable of succeeding as a bird is of flying without wings. Take away the blessing of God, and of what avail will your talents be?
And what is it that gives this blessing, but obedience? If you do not succeed in your office there is reason to believe that it is not the one God has laid out for you; that you intruded yourself into it; that ambition prompted you to seek it; that favor thrust you into it; at least that you did not beg of God his grace and blessing, and that you secretly sought your own satisfaction in it rather than his ...
Never intrude yourself into an office to which you have not been called, and never refuse any one that is given you. By following this rule, you will enjoy wonderful peace. God will bless all yourr exertions and the success with which your labors are crowned will not anywise diminish your merit ...
Do then what you wish, but bear this in mind that your labor will be in vain if you do not do what you ought. Your duty, once more I repeat it, is to do what God wishes, and to acquit yourself faithfully in the office he gives you. You will discharge it well if you receive it from his hand, if you enter upon it by his orders, if you rely upon his grace, if you implore his blessing, if you covet not another office, if you perform your labor with gaiety, quietly, courageously, constantly: with gaiety, without ill-humor; quietly, without uneasiness; courageously, without baseness; constantly, without disgust and without relaxation. What is your defect?
- Bishop Benedict Joseph Fenwick, S. J.