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Letter XVII.—Attraction to the Interior Life.

To Mother Marie-Anne-Sophie de Rottembourg (1738). On docility to the interior impressions of the Holy Spirit: and peaceful waiting.

Reverend Mother,

All that you tell me about the interior attraction of many of your daughters to holy recollection, and the measures you take to turn aside the obstacles, specious and well-disguised as they are, by which the devil tries to prevent them, can only come from the Holy Spirit. I have nothing further to remark about it. Follow quietly and step by step, the light that God gives you. What a consolation and joy for me it is to learn that all those good sisters whom I know best, and am most interested in, are just those that are most attracted to and have the greatest desire for the interior life. I beg you to congratulate them from me for this gift of God, and to greet them all, particularly your dear Sister Marie-Anne-Thérèse de Vioménil. How delighted I am to hear that she is persevering in this work. The seven you mention, with whom you have formed a holy league for the renewal of an interior spirit in your community, will gradually make proselytes, and before long will win over the whole house. As to yourself, profit by your experiences and never forsake the plain path of pure faith which God has made you enter upon for any reason whatever. Do not forget that in this path the operations of God are almost imperceptible. The work of grace is accomplished in the innermost recess of the spirit, that which is the furthest from the senses, and from all that can be felt. To confirm you in this way you must remember first that this is what Jesus Christ meant when He said that we must worship the Father in spirit and in truth; secondly, that what is evident to the senses is, so to say, only a mark of grace; as Fr. Louis Lallement says; thirdly, that Mother de Chantal has very justly said that the more simple, deep and imperceptible are the workings of God, the more spiritual, solid, pure and perfect they are. That spirit of peace in yourself and in the others is one of the greatest gifts of God. Follow this spirit and all that it inspires; it will work wonders in yourself and in your neighbour. When we have learnt to remain in interior peace, God will teach others by our example without the sound of words to be peaceable and obedient, so that directors will only have to say to us, “Listen attentively to the voice of the Spirit of God,” or, better still, “Be faithful in following the interior impressions of His grace.” This is what St. John said to the first Christians, “You have no need that any man teach you, but as His unction teacheth you all things, and is truth, and is no lie. And as it has 155taught you, abide in Him.” Follow faithfully and obediently, when you feel it, this divine unction; wait for it peacefully and with confidence when its impression becomes indistinct; this is the best way of making rapid progress in the way of perfection without danger of going astray. Why do we always wish to substitute our own action for that of the divine Worker who labours in us without ceasing to make us perfect? How much more progress should we not make if we took more care not to interfere with His action, but to abandon ourselves to Him, and to wait for Him? The Holy Scriptures frequently recommend us to “wait on the Lord” and there is hardly any means better calculated to make us holy. There is nothing to which souls already sufficiently exercised in the active life and the fulfilment of the precepts should more earnestly apply themselves, than to these peaceful waitings. It is the way to acquire the spirit of prayer, of holy recollection, and of a most intimate union with God. Our God is infinitely liberal, and His hands are always full of graces which He only desires to pour out on us. To receive abundantly of these graces all that is necessary is, to prepare our hearts and to remain always in readiness. But the dryness and weariness of this waiting tire those souls that are impatient and impetuous, and dishearten those who think only of their own interests instead of allowing themselves to be led by the pure love of God which consists in conforming our will always with His. There is no treasure in the world to be compared to this. But people are always rushing after all sorts of chimerical perfections and lose sight of the only true perfection, which is the fulfilment of the divine will; this infinitely wise and sweet will, which, if we allow it to guide us will show us close at hand and at every moment what we are so laboriously and uselessly hunting for elsewhere.

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