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Letter I.—Rules to be Observed in Illness.

On illness and its uses. Rules to be observed. To Sister Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil.

My dear Sister and very dear daughter in our Lord,

The peace of Jesus Christ be always with you. Do not fear that your illness will be a danger to your soul, but, on the contrary, be reassured that you will derive great profit from it, because:—

1st. To suffer peacefully and patiently without any resistance is to suffer well, although you may not make any express and energetic acts of acceptance. The heart by submitting, and by a humble and simple acquiescence offers them passively.

2nd. Also, my dear Sister, you ought to thank God as for a grace, in that you suffer in a feeble and small way; that is to say without feeling much courage and as if you were overwhelmed by your illness and on the point of losing patience, of complaining, and giving way to the revolts of nature. Yes, it is a grace and a signal grace, because to suffer thus is to suffer with humility and lowliness of spirit; whereas, if one felt a distinct courage and strength, a conscious resignation, the heart would swell with satisfaction, and one would become filled with self-confidence and spiritual pride and presumption. In your state, on the contrary, you feel weak before God, humbled and confounded at suffering in so feeble a manner. This is a certain truth, very consoling, very spiritual, and very little recognised. Remember it, then, on all occasions when, feeling more keenly the weight of the Cross and of your sufferings you feel at the same time your weakness, and submit in peace and simplicity in the centre of your soul to all that God wills. This way of suffering is most sanctifying, and is what Fénèlon calls becoming little in your own eyes and humbling yourself with the knowledge of how wanting you are in courage to suffer. If all people of good will understood this truth they would be able to suffer in peace and simplicity, without being distressed and wounded in their self-love by finding themselves so helpless and with so little courage to bear their sufferings. You should apply this rule to all your afflicting trials, and especially to those daily annoyances you experience from the person who worries you, and also when you have feelings of antipathy towards anyone else.


3rd. As regards the alleviations you might find beneficial; certainly those officious persons who imagine they cannot do better to show their charity to the sick than by raising in their minds all sorts of longings are, as you remark, not to be accounted charitable; their flattering conversations are so many snares; at the same time you ought to take, without scruple, humbly and in holy simplicity, all that the doctors, superiors, and infirmarians order. Obedience and giving up our own will which we practise in acting thus are much more agreeable to God than any bodily mortification. This is another truth that many devout persons lose sight of, and are consequently very unmortified even in their mortifications. Do not forget this, because self-love and following your own will would spoil everything, corrupt everything, even in practices that are very holy in themselves. Oh! how happy should we be if we could once for all renounce our own will, judgment and ideas for the love of God!

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