In my Natural Theology class last semester, I was blessed to get to read and reflect on an excerpt from St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life concerning God’s act of creation (included as a link). I have thought de Sales an excellent writer, and was not disappointed in reading this article prayerfully like he had described. I wish you a happy and blessed New Year, and I hope that de Sales’ words and maybe even mine can give you some good food for thought in starting out 2019.
St. Francis de Sales reminds us of how we once were nothing, and of how we could very easily have remained nothing. It is only because of God’s goodness and mercy that we were created—not because of anything we ourselves are or have done. That said, we owe God the very deepest gratitude, and should live our entire lives in a spirit of this gratitude. Of course, we often fail at this, forgetting the love of our Creator and how we ought to return that love. De Sales prescribes resolutions to do better at remembering and respecting He Who is our true source, our true reason for being, along with prayers to this end. (See “First Meditation: On Creation.”)
It really struck me to be reminded of how, were it not for God’s choice to create me out of love for me, I would truly be nothing. At one point in time—actually for many points in time—I did not exist. During that time, I had nothing—no existence, no capacity to love or feel joy, no spiritual graces, no family or friends, no enjoyable possessions. I was nothing, I had nothing—and I could have so easily remained that way. The wonderful life I would have missed out on, had I remained that way!—had God not chosen to will my existence! And as if that weren’t enough, if that same God had not suffered and died for me, I would have no hope of eternal life, but would know that death really would be the end of life for me. And yet, as de Sales pointed out—I often forget about all of this. I do what I want; I refuse my Creator the love He shows me by His creating and sustaining me and offering me salvation. I refuse to return this love, both to Him directly, and also to Him through His creatures—whether it be just myself or also others—by hurting them through sin, even though I owe God absolutely everything.
Remember Who it is Who gives you existence, Who, as de Sales put it, “brought you out of … nothingness, in order to make you what you are, not because He had any need of you, but solely out of His Goodness.” Remember also all the joys—even the smallest ones—you have received in this life, joys you never could have experienced were it not for God’s will to create you. God has not created an infinite number of people, every possible person there could be. He created you, and He created you “what you are” because He loves you and He loves “what you are.” Never fail to appreciate that. Strive always to be what He created you to be.