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Letter XIX.—Glorified by Sufferings.

To Mother Louise-Françoise de Rosen. On the use of trials even if they be punishments.

Reverend Mother,

I do not presume to find excuses for the imperfections of the good Sister about whom you ask my advice, and since God has taken upon Himself the punishment of them by sending her the most cruel trials, she seems to me more to be envied on this account than to be blamed for her faults. There is much in these faults that deserves the verdict of the church on the sin of Adam. “Happy fault which merited so glorious a Redeemer!” This good Sister, you tell me, has acknowledged her faults, and now, overwhelmed by the weight of her trials, is much more inclined to depression than to obstinacy. Therefore you only have to revive her courage and to console her gently. Tell her that she has lost nothing, and that far from being abandoned by God she is much nearer to Him than when all was prosperous with her, and she seemed to succeed in everything. I authorise you to tell her from me that I consider her more happy than before in consequence of her sufferings by which God is purifying her more and more, like gold in the crucible, to unite her more closely to Himself. For you must both take into consideration this great principle: the extent to which the soul is purified in its most secret recesses, is the measure of its union with the God of all holiness. By this you can judge if this poor Sister should not be considered the happiest of all, if she could be persuaded to look upon her state of suffering from this point of view. However, if the violence of this trial prevents her seeing clearly the value and use of it, let her rely on her faith, and let her glorify God by patience and an unreserved submission, abandoning herself entirely to His adorable permissions without relaxing in the least degree any of her spiritual exercises, especially as regards prayer and Holy Communion; and without giving way to a secret desire suggested by self-love, to shake off the yoke of the cross of God. “But,” she will answer, “this comfort would be just if my state were a trial only, but I have every reason to believe that it is a punishment inflicted by God.” I acknowledge this, but in this life no punishment is inflicted by divine justice without a loving intention of divine mercy. This is particularly the case with those souls whom God most loves. God often permits their faults in order to be enabled to derive glory from them, and to make them serve for the salvation of these souls. The chastisements He inflicts sanctify while humiliating them, and dispose them to unite themselves more 262closely to God, at the same time as they become more detached from self. Therefore they are chastisements as well as trials; chastisements inasmuch as they atone for the past evil and satisfy divine justice; and trials because divine mercy makes use of them to prevent future danger, and for the exercise of many very meritorious virtues. You cannot insist too strongly on these truths with souls in trouble and affliction no matter what may be the cause of their anguish. Let all such remember that nothing happens except by the ruling of divine Providence, and by His adorable permission. Give this dear Sister who is so full of pain the most deeply spiritual reading; this is the only means she has to soften and relieve her continual torment, and to make it bearable; to convert her pain into profit, and to recover from it at the time arranged by divine Providence. God has given me in her behalf, all the interest and charity of a spiritual father, and the thought never leaves me that the day will come when she will be my joy and my crown in the presence of God, and even now visibly before men by a most edifying life. I hope she will always keep before her mind the memory of the past in order to humble herself before God, and thus to establish firmly a solid foundation for the spiritual life in which even her faults may prove a guarantee of her perseverance and progress.

The Religious in question seems to be Sister Anne-Marguerite de la Bellière to whom Fr. de Caussade had written several times. For having taken too much time and pains to prepare a little oratory where she made her Retreat she became deprived of all that light and consolation that God usually lavished upon her during prayer.

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