Venerable Archbishop Luis Martinez tells us in Worshiping a Hidden God, that both power and gentleness are necessary for sanctification. This may seem contradictory, as he tells us that “The action of God in the sanctification of each soul is a marvel of power.” This we can see; furthermore he adds, “On our side, holiness is also the effect of power, since only those who exercise force achieve it.” We know this to be true because we know how much effort it takes for us to make any little gain. Just giving up sweets for Lent, or the equivalent thereof, requires heroic efforts for many of us! It is only our heroic struggles [which amount to little] coupled with Divine Strength that give us any hope of success.
Yet Ven. Martinez reminds us of the gentleness of the actions of God with his saints: “How He respects our liberty! How He condescends to our weakness! He does not run or jump or act violently. We, being weak creatures, rush; but God works slowly, because He deals with eternity. We bewail the passage of minutes; but God serenely watches the flow of years. We wish to achieve the goal of our desires with a single rush; but God prepares His work gently, nor does our inconstancy weary Him, nor do our failures startle Him…. Desirous of holiness, [we] wish to achieve it all at once.”
What does this mean for us? That we pour our full strength, our whole heart and will and mind into our duty of the moment—this is the power required of us, one moment at a time. Without rushing, without discouragement. At the same time, we must wait patiently, being gentle with ourselves, and not expect that this one mighty effort will carry us to any particular place in our sanctification. The fruit of our action is up to God alone. It is His power and gentleness that will carry the day. Remember this wonderful line, “Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage. He will strengthen thy heart.”
Sanctification is the work of our entire lifetime; we cannot accomplish it quickly, nor does God expect us to. All that He expects of us is fidelity to the moment with all the energy of our willing hearts.
[Worshiping a Hidden God, pp. 60-65]