Once St. Anthony, abbot visited the city of Alexandria in Egypt. He went there because Bishop Athanasius (future St. Athanasius) wanted to talk with him there. When St. Anthony entered the city, he saw a woman who was very well dressed and who drew the attention of all those who passed by.
St. Anthony immediately started to cry. Someone asked him why he was crying and he answered: “I cry because I am sorry for this miserable woman, but above all I cry because I am very sorry for my negligence: she does more to please men than I do to please God.”
St. Anthony’s reflection is an important reflection. We try to please what we love; love is always behind those actions. The woman of the anecdote loved vainglory, so she tried to please men to receive vainglory from them.
This reflection can help us to see how great is our love for God. That is to say, we should ask ourselves: how much do I try to please God? How much do I desire to spend time with God? Do I enjoy being in His presence? Am I more worried about non-essential things? Do I allow non-important things to distract me from the important things, like heaven, the grace of God, eternal salvation, etc.?
These questions can help us to see if we are trying our best or not to please God; to see if we really love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind as the first commandment requests of us. These requests are in order to please God with our feelings, with our will and with our thoughts, that is, with our entire life.
“That ‘all’ repeated and applied insistently is really the banner of Christian maximalism. And it is right: God is too great, He deserves too much from us for us to be able to throw to Him, as to a poor Lazarus, a few crumbs of our time and our heart. He is infinite good and will be our eternal happiness: money, pleasure, the fortunes of this world, compared with Him, are just fragments of good and fleeting moments of happiness. It would not be wise to give so much of ourselves to these things and so little of ourselves to Jesus” (Blessed John Paul I, 9/27/1978).
That is why, St. Paul exhorts us: I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let… those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away. I should like you to be free of anxieties (1 Cor 29.31-32). The things of this world make us anxious because they pass, they are temporary, which means they will end sooner or later, and because we know that it causes anxiety. Those who want to please the passing things of the world will never have peace.