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Letter XV.—Trials to be Endured Peacefully.

To the same person. Trials to be endured peacefully.

1st. We are entirely of one mind, my dear Sister, now that you admit with me that your activity and eagerness are defects. Strive against them with all your strength, that is all that I ask. You say that I want you to be faultless and quite perfect. That is true, and has always been the object I had in view for you. At the same time I do not consider it a crime that you have not yet attained this perfection. I realise that this can only be achieved gradually by a great confidence in God, and a great fidelity to His grace. He alone can accomplish in you the work He has begun; what you have to do is simply to abandon yourself to Him, and to allow Him to act. Do not be one of those of whom Jesus Christ said, speaking to St. Catherine of Siena, 251that they made hardly any progress in perfection because they talked so much themselves, that they could not listen to Him, and would act themselves, and gave Him no opportunity of acting in them.

2nd. I am delighted to hear that you feel that God supports you in your afflictions; continue to endure them as peacefully as you can, and in a perfect interior silence. This practice alone will cause you to advance in a calm and peaceful way. God has given you courage and energy; these are talents that you must profit by. This divine Master asks that, for the present, you will make your courage consist in patient endurance and resignation; but it is in the depths of your soul, not in feeling, that He wishes to find this abandonment, and, in His infinite goodness, at the same time that He requires it of you, He bestows it upon you. For this grace unite with me in returning thanks to Him, for He could not have bestowed upon you a more precious gift. Perhaps a day will come when this resignation will become sensible, and then it will be as sweet, as now it is bitter, and you will enjoy that heavenly unction which Jesus Christ has attached to His Cross. This is what makes the peace and joy of the saints unchangeable, and it is what those experience who follow generously the path of perfection and a spiritual life, in sacrificing everything for God. You tell me that with your character and temperament it seems to you impossible to acquire a taste for the interior life. So it is, truly; but what is impossible to man is easy to God, and it is on Him alone, and on His grace through Jesus Christ, that you have to depend. In order to compel you to lay a foundation of humility in your soul this God of goodness begins by making you feel most keenly your own weakness; but, when this feeling depresses you, encourage yourself to hope, for God, as you know, is pleased to make His grace triumph most in our greatest weaknesses.

3rd. The petition you so often make interiorly, “Lord, have pity on me, You can do all things,” is the best and most simple prayer that you could possibly make. Nothing more is required to draw down His powerful aid. Keep steadfastly to this practice and to the habit of never expecting anything from yourself but of hoping to obtain all from God. He will do the rest, without your perceiving it, and I feel assured that this will be visibly shown by the result. I am interiorly convinced that unless prevented by great infidelity on your part, God, by His holy operation will perform great things in pour soul. You may count upon this, if you do not voluntarily oppose any obstacle. If you become aware of having unfortunately done so, humble yourself immediately and return to God and to yourself with a perfect confidence in the divine goodness.


4th. We must only attach ourselves to God and to His holy will by acquiescing in all His arrangements which cannot fail to be for our happiness and profit. If, on our part, there should be nothing else but this blind submission to His good pleasure, we ought to be contented, because in this alone consists all perfection, and the true love of God.

5th. It is a great grace to realise the folly and extravagance of the pleasures that worldly people pursue so eagerly. From this you will derive great good for your soul which, in this contempt for the world will find a powerful motive for giving itself entirely to a spiritual life. Perhaps you will say that you are still but a novice in this life. I acknowledge that, but you admire it, desire it, ask for it, and are tending towards it; here are so many different degrees of grace; the rest will follow in due time. Meanwhile moderate your spiritual vehemence, and your holy ambition.

6th. You are beginning, you say, to be indifferent as to whether people behave well or badly towards you. This is a greater grace than you imagine. But there are times, you say, when sadness and discouragement seem to overwhelm you. This you must put up with as well as you can, and accept the annoyance of finding yourself so weak, for this is most irritating to our spiritual self-love. This is the most meritorious of all the sacrifices by which we must immolate it, as it is the most humiliating. It is quite permissible to expect some sensible help and support in the spiritual life, but we must hope for it with moderation, seek it without excitement, and make use of it without becoming too much attached to it, and lose it when God wishes to deprive us of it, I do not say, without pain, but without being voluntarily cast down and troubled. Above all it is necessary to make God our principal help, to count on Him in default of others, to trust in Him unreservedly, to have recourse to Him in all dangers and for everything, as little children do with their loving mothers. This holy simplicity, this humble and childlike conduct towards God will touch and move His paternal heart, and obtain sooner or later all that we ask, or something else better for us, which is often given us even without our knowledge.

7th. The complaints made by our Lord to St. Catherine of Siena of the exaggerated activity of those souls in saying and doing so much themselves, that they left Him not one moment in which to effect anything, should be understood in this sense; that in working and accomplishing our duties, we should do so without excitement, and natural impetuosity, and that, during the day we should listen to the voice of divine Wisdom to hear 253Him who speaks in the centre of our hearts without sound of words, because His operation is His word. Moreover, that in all our prayers, readings, examens, and thoughts of God we should act quietly, gently, without confusion or effort, seeking only the union of our hearts with God, and for that making use of frequent pauses to give the Holy Spirit of God time to work in us what He pleases, and as He pleases.

8th. All that you tell me about your fear of your faults being rendered greater on account of your realisation of the presence of God is an illusion of the devil who, in this way tries to withdraw our attention from this divine Presence, and to diminish our devotion while we are before the most Holy Sacrament. Continue to follow this exercise without fear; I see the fruits of it, and they will become so sensible that you will see them yourself in course of time.

9th. I congratulate you that God has taken away some of your natural vivacity. The loss of your gaiety will only be temporary. It will return, but completely changed, or rather transformed into spiritual joy, quiet, tranquil and peaceful, because it will be like that of the saints, in God and coming only from God.

10th. I greatly approve of your method of prayer; continue the same, and make acts when you feel inclined. When, during pauses, or interior silence some good thought or inclination should be suggested to you, receive it quietly; and do the same with interior repose, whether sometimes greater or less, as God pleases. In a word, tend always towards that sovereign Lord, more by the affections and desires than by the mind and intellect; and no matter what He gives you be always satisfied. God knows better than we do what is necessary for us; let Him act, but let us be absolutely convinced that the least repose of heart we enjoy in His holy presence is worth more than anything we could say or think ourselves. May this conviction impel you ever more strongly to tend with all your heart towards this holy repose; and when God gives it to you do not interrupt it, for these are the precious moments when the King of kings admits those souls Whom He honours with His predilection to a friendly audience.

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