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Letter III.—Abandonment During Trials.

To Mlle. de Serre who afterwards became Sister Catharine Angélique. On the same subject. Abandonment during trials.

Keep steadfast my dear daughter, in the midst of your violent interior afflictions, and never relinquish the practice of entire abandonment to God, and of perfect confidence in His goodness. Encourage yourself with these two obvious and invariable principles: first, that God will never abandon any who have abandoned themselves entirely to Him, and who trust completely in His infinite mercy. Secondly, that nothing happens in this world that is not according to the decrees of Providence who turns all things to the advantage and greater profit of souls that are submissive and resigned. Contrary thoughts and interior combats will only serve, if you remain faithful, to strengthen in your mind, and to root more firmly in your heart, the truths and feelings so necessary for your sanctification. The perfection of the state to which God calls you is, no doubt, beyond your power to attain, neither can you depend on yourself in the very slightest degree for its attainment; on the contrary you must beware of doing so, and rely on God only, grounding yourself on His succour and the power of His grace, with the help of which so many others weaker than yourself have been able, and are still able to do what seems to you so difficult. You ought, therefore, to repeat continually, “Yes! considering my weakness and misery, this would be as impossible as flying in the air. But that which is impossible to man becomes possible, pleasant and easy with the assistance of the all-powerful grace of Jesus Christ, and I hope to obtain this grace from His goodness, and through His infinite merits.” In this way have many young people, who were naturally feeble and timid, triumphed over cruel tyrants, and braved the most terrible sufferings and outrages and shed their blood in imitation and love of a crucified God.

The weariness, distaste, and dryness from which you frequently suffer are the usual vicissitudes through which all those souls, aiming at union with God, are accustomed to pass. What merit should we gain, and how should we prove our fidelity to God if we were always supported, helped, and consoled in a sensible manner by interior grace? What is essential is to be faithful in the fulfilment of all our duties, and of those interior 220and exterior practices that belong to our state, as much during dryness and distaste as in sweetness and sensible devotion. Although then we do nothing without effort and repugnance, the merit is none the less great. In this way only is our love of God completely free from that unhappy self-love which thrusts itself everywhere, mixes with everything, and spoils everything, as St. Francis of Sales says. As there is a sweet and delightful peace to be felt during prayer, so also is there a dry, bitter, and sometimes a suffering peace by which God operates more freely in the soul than by the former which is more subject to the inroads of self-love. Therefore one must abandon oneself to God in this as in all other things. We must allow Him to work, because He knows better than we do what is good for us. Let us fear only one thing, and that is to allow our self-will to lead us astray. To avoid this danger it only needs to will exactly what God wills, always, at every moment and for everything. This is the safest, the shortest, I even dare to say the only road to perfection; any other is subject to illusion, pride and self-love. For the rest, drop gradually but quietly the lengthy reasonings which absorb your mind during prayer, and aim, rather, at affections, aspirations, desires for God, and a simple repose in Him. This will not prevent you, however, from pausing a little over good thoughts, if they are simple, quiet and peaceful, and seem to come and go of their own accord.

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