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Letter XX.—The Fruit of Trials.

To the same person on the fruit of trials, Profound Peace.

1st. The deep calm you experience, the profound inner peace with which you are filled and which you find so sweet, is not an illusion but a true operation of the Holy Spirit Who speaks in the centre of your soul. Peace and love, says St. John of the Cross, are one and the same. Peace can be felt, but love cannot be perceived in the same manner, but is very real, nevertheless. I am not surprised that when God deigns to bestow these precious gifts upon you, you no longer feel your usual infirmities. The interior grace in your soul reflects itself in your body, and causes your pains to cease. I know many who find no more efficacious 263means for the cure of their maladies than this quiet recollection in God, when He is pleased to bestow it upon them; for, as you truly say, it does not proceed from ourselves.

2nd. To remain simply in the presence of God, quite abandoned to His love and mercy is also an effect of the Holy Spirit in the soul. You have but to remain humbly and simply in the hands of God, adhering to Him, and giving yourself up to His love, so that He may do with you, and in you all that He pleases. But never make this sweet repose your object; always go further and aim at the possession of Him Who bestows it upon you; and value it only as a means of uniting you more closely to God Who is your centre, your life, and your all. Never forget that you may, possibly, find yourself bereft of everything in the most complete spiritual poverty, and left to the simple practice of bare faith for the extinction of self-love. This death of self hardly ever occurs without a deprivation of all things, and at the mere thought of this one’s very nature shudders. It is then that one seems lost indeed, without any support, and left in the most cruel abandonment.

3rd. I am glad that God has lessened the fear of reprobation by which you were tormented. Now you can, without so much difficulty, abandon yourself, by making the following act. “May God do with me whatever He pleases, I wish to belong entirely to Him by loving and serving Him as well as I can. He is the God of my heart, the God of my salvation, and my salvation cannot be left in more secure keeping. I abandon it to Him with the greatest confidence.” Abandonment by itself can give us an assurance of security that self-love seeks unsuccessfully from creatures or from self. Our weakness and blindness are much more calculated to make us tremble; and, when we enter into ourselves we find what would cause us to despair unless we remembered with confidence the infinite goodness of God. Therefore we can only be reassured through Jesus Christ, in Him; and we find Him proportionately to the measure in which we abandon ourselves.

4th. The simple “Fiat” you pronounce comprises everything, and the feeling of your continual dependence is one of the greatest of God’s graces. The thought of His paternal love and all-powerful aid is the reward of it. When the heart is animated by filial confidence it becomes easy to receive no matter what from the hands of this most merciful Father.

5th. Pure love without any admixture of interest or self-love can only come to you from God, but to acquire a gift of such infinite value the soul is obliged to endure many deprivations and trials. These are so many operations necessary for its purification, because we are always prone to become attached 264to the pleasure that God allows us unless taught by sad experience to love Him even in the most terrible state of privation. I am delighted to hear that the interior spirit reigns in your community. If holy recollection does not comprise everything it is, at any rate, the way to acquire all. You are quite right to leave out all those compliments and ordinary good wishes for the New Year as far as I am concerned. God sees that they are in your heart where they form a continual prayer on my behalf, just as my wishes for your welfare are as a prayer in the sight of God. “Our desires,” says St. Augustine, “are as regards God, what our speech and words are with regard to men.” He hears them, and, we may hope, will answer them.

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