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Letter XII.—Peace and Submission.

On the practice of abandonment and the peace of the soul.

My very dear Sister,

May the peace of Jesus Christ be always with us, and in us, since God does not act freely except in peaceful hearts. I rejoice, and congratulate you on the peace that our Lord gives you in the practice of an entire conformity of your will to the designs of His good providence. This peace, as you know, is the foundation of the interior life for many reasons, but principally because it is the health and strength of the soul; as trouble produces languor and weakness, acting on the soul in the same way that fever acts on the body. In the second place, because agitation and anxiety in the soul are an obstacle to the hearing of the gentle voice and soft breathing of the Holy Spirit. To keep yourself in this peace which will, I hope, continually increase, there is no better way than always to practise total abandonment, and that absolute resignation of which I have already spoken to you. You will, without doubt, succeed, if you never lose sight of the great and consoling truth that nothing happens in this world but by the command of God, or at least, with His divine permission; and that, whatever He wills, or permits turns infallibly to the advantage of those who are submissive and resigned. Even that which most disturbs our spiritual plans changes into something better for us. Keep firmly by this great principle and the most violent tempests will not be able to trouble the depth of your soul, even though they map ruffle the surface by disquieting the feelings.

When, in prayer, you experience certain inclinations and a sweet repose of soul and heart in God, receive these gifts with humility and gratitude, but without attaching yourself to them. If you liked these consolations for themselves you would compel God to deprive you of them, for, when He calls us to pray it is not to flatter our self-love, or to cause us to feel complacency in ourselves, but to dispose us to do His holy will, and to teach 142us to conform ourselves always more perfectly and in all things to it. When distractions and dryness follow consolations, you know how you ought to bear them, I mean, in peace, submission, and abandonment for as long as it pleases God to permit them to continue. You know, also, that the only hurtful distractions are those that are voluntary, therefore, all those that are displeasing do not prevent the prayer of the heart, and the desire. Do not ever force yourself to fight against these obstinate distractions, it is better and safer to let them alone, as one takes no notice of the various follies and extravagancies that, in spite of ourselves pass through the mind and imagination. What has happened to you before will happen again; God will cause you to experience after prayer what He has refused you at the time in order to make you understand that it is the effect of His grace alone and not of any effort or industry of yours. Nothing serves better to keep us in dependence on grace, and in a state of abjection in our own eyes: and this produces humility of heart and mind. During the day try to keep yourself united to God, either by frequent aspirations towards Him, or by the simple glance of pure faith; or better still, by a certain calm in the depths of your soul and of your whole being in God, accompanied by a complete detachment from all the exterior objects of this world. God Himself will show you which of these three ways will best suit you to unite yourself to Him, by the attraction to it, the taste for it, and the facility in the practice of it which He will give you, for this union is in proportion to the degree of to which the soul is raised. Each of these states has its special attraction; one must learn to know one’s own, and then follow it with simplicity and fidelity, but without anxiety, uneasiness, or haste; always sweetly and peacefully as St. Francis of Sales says.

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