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Letter IX.—The Goodness of God.

To Sister Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil.

Another fresh motive for abandoning ourselves to God. His fatherly providence.

I do not understand your uneasiness, my dear Sister, nor why you take pleasure in tormenting yourself as you do about the future, when your faith teaches you that the future is in the hands of an infinitely good Father Who loves you more than you love yourself, and who understands what is necessary for you much better than you. Have you forgotten that everything that happens is ordained by divine Providence? And if we recognise this truth how is it that we are not humbly submissive in every event both great and small to all that God wills or permits? Oh! how blind we are when we desire anything other than what God wills! He alone knows the dangers that threaten us in the future, and the helps we shall require. I am strongly persuaded that we should all be lost if God were to grant us all that we asked for, and this is why, says St. Augustine, God out of compassion for our blindness, does not always hear our prayers, and often gives us the exact contrary to what we asked Him, as being in truth better for us. Truly it seems to me that in this world nearly all of us are like people who in madness, or delirium, ask for exactly what will cause their death, and to whom it is refused out of charity, or in pity. Oh my God! if this truth were but understood, with what blind abandonment would we not submit to all the decrees of Your divine Providence! What peace and tranquillity of heart should we enjoy about all things and in all things, not only as to outward events but also about the interior state of our souls. Even if the painful vicissitudes through which God makes us pass should be in punishment for our unfaithfulness, we ought to say to ourselves, “God wills it by permitting it,” and humbly submit. We must then detest the offence and accept the painful and humiliating consequences, as St. Francis of Sales so often recommends. Would that this principle, thoroughly grasped, could put an end to the troubles and anxieties that are so useless and so destructive of our peace of mind and spiritual progress. Shall I never be able even with the help of grace to introduce into your soul this great principle of faith, so sweet, so consoling, so tranquillising? “Oh my God!” we ought to repeat, “may Your will be accomplished in me and never my own. May Yours be accomplished because it is infinitely just and also infinitely advantageous to me. I acknowledge that You can will nothing that is not for the greatest benefit to Your creatures as long as they are 118submissive to Your commands. May my wishes never be granted if they do not agree perfectly with Yours, because in that case they would be disastrous to me. And if ever, my God, it happens that either through ignorance or passion I should persist in desiring things contrary to Your will, may I always be refused or punished, as the effect, not of Your justice, but of Your compassion and great mercy.”

“Whatever happens,” said St. Francis of Sales, “I shall always side with divine Providence, even if human wisdom tears her hair out with spite.” If you were more enlightened you would judge very differently from the ordinary run of human beings; then, too, what a source of peace and strength this way of looking at things would prove to you. How happy are saints! and how peacefully they live! and how blind and stupid we are in not accustoming ourselves to think and act as they do, but to prefer living shut up in thick darkness which makes us wretched as well as blind and guilty. Let us then make it our study, aim, and purpose to conform ourselves in all things to the holy will of God, in spite of interior rebellion. Even about this rebellion we must acquiesce in the will of God, for it compels us to remain always before Him in a state of sacrifice as to all things; in an interior silence of respect, adoration, self-effacement, submission, love, and an entire abandonment full of confidence to His divine will.

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