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Letter VIII.—Advice on Prayer.

To Sister Marie-Anne-Thérèse de Rosen. Excellent advice on prayer, to souls called to a life of abandonment.

1st. Apply yourself to prayer by a simple glance at the subject, that is to say by a single apprehension of its object, by faith without any reasoning.

2nd. I advise you to pause longer on that which is most likely to humiliate you, and to destroy self-love. The more distressed you feel, and penetrated with a sense of your misery, the more disposed you will be to receive the gifts of God.

3rd. Do not be uneasy about distractions, but when you perceive them, collect your mind and, above all, your heart by an act of faith in the presence of God, and in a holy repose. If that does not succeed you can only resign yourself. The state of distraction is often a cross more meritorious than the prayer itself, for it unites our will with the will of God Who is all our good.

4th. The result of the prayer will prove its efficacy. Solid faith is incomparably better than faith that is sensibly felt, under its guidance the soul makes more rapid progress, and proceeds with greater certainty.

5th. Hear Holy Mass with great recollection, and give yourself up to a boundless confidence in the divine goodness, while relying on the merits of the divine victim, Jesus Christ.

6th. The way of dryness and aridity is greatly preferable to that of consolations, although it is painful. It is only in this way that solid virtue can be acquired; in the other way, the most apparently, perfect dispositions are subject to failure at the slightest breath of aridity or of temptation. God usually sends trials to those souls who have enjoyed for some time spiritual sweetness and consolation.

7th. When it pleases the divine goodness to make a soul advance in the way of pure love, fear makes no impression on it. As fear is the forerunner of love, perfect love casts out fear, as St. Augustine says, following St. John. Those who are charged with the guidance of such a soul should carry out the designs of God by conducting it in the ways of love and confidence. If the occasion arises where fear is necessary for the avoidance of evil, God will certainly bestow it. Let this soul continue then to love without troubling about other things, and above all let it avoid all anxiety and perplexity, for this temptation is more to be feared than any other by those who follow this way. One must then always recommend them to keep, at all costs, interior peace, and to reject as an envoy of hell everything 134which tends to disturb, or diminish it. For the rest, know that the most perfect, is that which is the most simple, and the most simple, is that which contains the least of our own, the fewest ideas, imaginations and reasonings; in which one single feeling continues longer than the rest. The longer the feelings inspired by grace continue in the soul, the more will it become impressed with them, and the more easily will it act under their influence. That of divine love which contains in an eminent degree all other virtues should form its ordinary food; when it masters all the affections of the soul it will effect in it an enthusiasm and a sort of enchantment which will make it run in the ways of holiness.

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