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Letter XXVII.—Acceptance of Duties.

To Mother Marie-Anne-Sophie de Rottembourg (1738). On abandonment in the acceptance of duties.

May the peace of Jesus Christ reign always in your heart, and may the most holy will of God be ever accomplished in, and by you. I already knew of your election, Rev. Mother, and rejoiced at it at once in God, because I did not doubt that it would be pleasing to all the community and for their spiritual profit.

As long as you retain your present dispositions your office, however calculated it may seem to relax your spirit, will not be at all injurious to you, for I remember to have read that our duties and employments do not hurt us so much as the eagerness, anxiety and trouble that arise from the activity of our nature, and the desire to succeed in everything before the world.

The celebrated M. de Renti said that it made no difference to him, nor did he experience any difficulty in keeping recollected whether he was at prayer in his oratory, or working, or in any other occupation done for the love of God, or the good of his neighbour. We should be able to say the same, if we were as detached as he and as free from all self-seeking.

You do not do well, therefore, in so strenuously opposing the office that Providence had allotted to you. God forgive you, but do not go on with it. To desire nothing, and to refuse nothing, was the maxim of St. Francis of Sales. I advise you to make it yours. Any fresh proof that you are likely to receive of the visible succour of heaven, will render you without excuse if you do not ground yourself in an unreserved abandonment, and an unlimited confidence. Sister N. has committed the same kind of fault, but she is less excusable, as she would not yield to the entreaties that were made to her. Please tell her how little edified I was at her conduct. The hope of being better able to preserve recollection has made her lose the occasion for practising a host of virtues. If she had had the simplicity to submit, she would have practised at the same time the virtues of obedience, charity and zeal. I do not speak of abnegation which she would also have practised so excellently in overcoming her antipathy, and in giving her services so generously to the community in the duty that was offered her. Even the want of capacity that she believed she recognised in herself should have been a greater incentive to its acceptance, for the harm which might have resulted to the community through her incapacity, was no business of hers, as she did not try in any way to obtain 168this office, and therefore it could have had no other result for her than merit. To how many little acts of humility, patience, and endurance of inconveniences, and constraint; how much vigilance, and charity would not this incapacity have given occasion for? But she had not the courage to face these sacrifices, and has given in to her self-love while she imagined she was following the dictates of humility. At least let her humble herself profoundly before God, let her learn to become very little in her own eyes, and omit nothing that could repair the disedification she has given her Sisters.

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