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Letter XVIII.—Desires to be Moderated.

To Sister Marie-Anne-Thérèse de Vioménil. Advising her to moderate her desires and fears.

Salutary fear causes neither disturbance, uneasiness, nor discouragement. If fear produce contrary effects you must drive it away, and not allow it to take possession of you, as in this case it comes either from the devil, or your own self-love. We must always remain in the presence of God, waiting His pleasure even about our most lawful desires, and the projects that seem most saintly; and must be always submissive and resigned to His holy will. Why? Firstly, because the desires 156of God should be the only rule of all our desires. The most certain way of arriving at perfection is to submit, and to persevere in adhering to all the interior and exterior circumstances in which we find ourselves by the permission of that divine Providence who rules everything, and disposes everything, even to the fall of a leaf from the tree, or a hair from our heads. Secondly, because the giving up of our own will is a necessary and important condition of our sanctification.

Nothing is so calculated to make us acquire this abnegation than the delays we meet with in the execution of our good purposes. It is on this account that God often delays their accomplishment for entire years. Then, indeed, do we require faith, abandonment and confidence. But what makes this trial all the more bitter is that sometimes we do not feel that we have any of these virtues, because we are deprived of the power of making formal acts. What is to be done in this case? We must sustain ourselves by the simple light of bare faith, and by frequent recourse to God interiorly to implore His divine assistance, humbly confessing our impotence and misery. In this way we shall take part in the designs of God who seems occasionally to leave us to our own devices, to make us understand how little we can do when left to ourselves. What a great favour! and what an important virtue we shall have acquired in learning by repeated personal experiences the depths of our weakness, misery and poverty, and the continual need we have of the sustaining power of God to raise, enlighten and animate us by the interior influence of His grace.

The deep impression that God has given you of a keen desire to divest yourself of your own will to follow His is a most precious grace; to guard and increase it you must, with all your heart and soul, make every effort, as often and for as long a time as you can, especially at prayer. I could wish that you were able to spend your whole life in this exercise alone, in great interior silence allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you by His grace; but all without violence or effort; gently, tranquilly, peacefully, because God only dwells in peaceful souls in which He takes His delight.

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