Many of our plans get frustrated for reason not dependent on us. What we wish and like not always can be done. How to manage this frustration? Let us ask Francisco Palau…
Ibiza, May 1854
I remained absolutely idle as in the attic of xuclá. So I took the pen to spend with you a moment of spiritual conversation about vocation.
Which are the ways that are open for you to set in order a peaceful, silent and solitary life that you can spend the rest of your life in union with God? Not one; all has been closed. But let us see if we can find some.
A religious community or convent? In the past years you have already acquired the monastic virtues in a most sublime manner through more direct means. The monastic life is very good and holy for the souls that are called to it, and with regards to you, it is impossible that you could be quiet in it because the need had raised you to practice other more potent virtues. You will be the cause of the suffering of the community without your fault and the nuns will be your cross.
Your fatigued and exhausted spirit for having endured cruel and fierce combats, now longs for a nest where it can rest alone: desire to find a place where it could be free from the cares and sorrows that come along in relations with the creatures, it can recuperate from the wounds and hurts that have been caused by communication with the world. Desire, long and ask to be alone with God, and in everything that could cause your spirit horror, fear, terror dread, disgust, homesickness, tiredness, affliction, fatigue, work and pain.
Let us go back seven years ago, renew and resume our conversations at that time. Was this not what you asked me? Yes, you will tell me, and what means and what ways did we undertake? My daughter, Jacob asked for Rachel, and he was given Leah her sister instead of her, and in order to marry her he had to serve seven more years [Gen 29,20- 30]. Your spirit asks for contemplative life and the providence has given you action. Has this been my fault? No; and yours? Neither; one and the other we have been guided by best intentions.
I wanted you to associate with the sisters and what was the result from here?: community of nuns or confusion and frustration. The first was seen not convenient, this was not my mission. God has shown favour in the second. God did not sanction that religious communities that sprung forth from my spirit. Now I know clearly his will by the works and deeds, I desisted and renounced entirely this idea, and in consequence I disposed regarding the house in Lérida that it would be rented.. and abandon this combat. My daughter, was it not your intention to associate with the sisters and to form communities, when you entrusted to me in Montauban the keys of the spiritual direction? No; for this you had no need to leave Santa Clotilde.
If it was only a matter of looking after you alone, I could have given you other advice and arrangements. At the time of the direction of Teresa and María, we already had so many serious compromises, now with other sisters, now with authorities, and after futile efforts we ended up as we were in the year 1846. If it was not the will of God to form religious communities, let us give him thanks, and rejoice in our failure and dispersion. For me this undertaking had already reached its end, and I will not work anymore in this line; I will do well to all as much as I could, but regarding to the directions with the aim that I had, it is all over.
Now the remaining duty that I have to fulfil is to give you a hand and guide you alone with fidelity as a private person.
Let us go back to the first years of the direction and taking the past experiences, let us direct your steps towards the future where you like to go. My daughter, what is it that we have to do? The matter has already taken another turn; it treats of helping you to live according to the heart of God, alone; it treats of taking one permanent place, where you will find peace. If our communications had this end and object, you could have already settled. This is easier for me and for you. For this end will be easier to find ways and means. I will not spare any sacrifice and will do all I can. You have been faithful in all the combats, and I could not but respond to your fidelity. Rest assured that I will not neglect you and will make the best of all the occasions that will be presented in order to realize the designs of God over you. How happy I would be when I will know that you are in a situation according to God’s designs and yours!
We talk and plan, make and unmake plans as creatures that walk in the world of continuous struggle, and God who sees our thoughts, perhaps, smiles at them and in his wisdom has disposed other plans. That he laughs well and good. We have to talk and work as men on those we do not know is against the will of God.
Since you left Notre Damme of Livron in 1848, I wended your way and life, considering it with esteem jibed with the common good of religion. To what was convenient to this end was in many times in disagreement to your spiritual and personal interests, and from here arose many spiritual contradictions.
I did not look at your spiritual welfare but only to the part that was related to the welfare of others, and this way of behaving was going against the current and struggling against unbearable forces. Your spirit desire for one thing, the common welfare and interest demand another; I opposed to your personal demand and sacrificed you for the convenience of others. This direction was for you burdensome, painful, and horrible because of doubt and temptations, and such have wounded, and discouraged you and was in continuous contradiction. I find myself in the same situation like you; I am delineating my way, and as the great part of your spiritual journey depends on my decision, it is precisely what we will talk about.
If I have to come later, do not move from Barcelona, wait for me, and if not, you have to come.
In this state of affairs you do not have to think of going to France, or move away from Barcelona, because no…
WHAT WAS HAPPENING
On April 1854 Father Palau is exiled in Ibiza. The School of Virtue is closed. His friends and collaborators got dispersed. After the dispersion of the two communities in Aitona and Lerida, Palau had to take care of the vocation of Juana Gratias. She followed him from a long time, since France, accompanied him in all his successes and failures. What will happen now with her, when Palau is far away and noone knows what will be his future? Palau reviews it all, going back to the years when they first met. He examines all the possibilities within one particular call, outside a community.
„We talk and plan, make and unmake plans as creatures that walk in the world of continuous struggle, and God who sees our thoughts, perhaps, smiles at them and in his wisdom has disposed other plans”. How true it is also in our experience! All those plans we had for the year 2020… all of them have been frustrated due to pandemic. All what happened was against our material and spiritual interests, our desires and wishes. It is hard to live in this abnormal situation. In some ways we did get used to that. In others, not so much. It is hard to be far from families and friends not knowing when we will see each other again. It is hard to live in a permanent worry for our jobs and income. Not sure when it will go back to normal… if it will ever go back to normal… And as we are looking forward for starting new year, we also make plans hoping this year will be better, different, easier, more predictable. But what if not? What if all our plans will be frustrated again? It happened a lot in life of Francisco Palau, and in ours as well. Are we ready to accept plans that the Other has made for us? In this season of Advent we accompany Mary in her attitude of receiving the crazy project of God. Let us learn from her to trust in God whose plans are always much better than ours.