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Letter IV.—Opportunities for Practising Charity.

On contradictory tastes and characters.

Far from pitying you I consider that you are more to be congratulated on having, at last, an opportunity of practising true charity. The antipathy you feel towards the person with whom you have such continual intercourse, the difference in your ideas and tastes, the offence she causes you by her manners and conversation are so many infallible signs that the charity you show her is purely supernatural and without any admixture of human feeling. This will be a way of amassing pure gold, and it depends entirely on yourself whether or not you will heap up an immense treasure. Be grateful, therefore, to the good God and in order to lose nothing of the inestimable advantages of your present position follow out exactly the rules that I will now give you.

1st. Bear patiently the involuntary feelings of disgust that this Sister’s behaviour causes you, just as you would bear a sudden attack of fever or megrim. Your antipathy is really, 271in fact, an interior fever, with its shivering and paroxysms. This is very crucifying, humiliating and painful, consequently is more meritorious and sanctifying.

2nd. Never speak, as perhaps the others do, about this Sister unless to speak kindly about her, remembering that she has her good qualities. And which of us is without bad ones? Who is perfect in this world? It is possible that without your will or knowledge you are as great a trial to her as God allows her to be to you. God often polishes one diamond by friction with another, says Fénélon.

3rd. When you have committed some fault in this matter do not distress yourself but humble yourself quietly without voluntary vexation either with her or yourself, without anxiety, annoyance or uneasiness. If we treat our faults in this way they will be to our profit and advantage. God keeps us in a state of true humility by these miseries, and the daily faults by which we discover our own pettiness.

4th. For the rest, unless your duty obliges you, do not meddle in anything that is said or done, let everything go on without speaking or thinking about it. Abandon all to divine Providence. What does it matter if everything goes, if everything perishes, provided that we belong to God and save our souls? But, I almost hear you say, if such or such a thing should happen what shall I do? This! I will take no notice, I will have nothing to do with it, because I should be sorry to lose this happy state of abandonment which makes me live in complete and absolute dependence on God from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment, without a thought of the future, nor even of to-morrow. To-morrow will take care of itself. He who sustains us to-day with His invisible hand, will sustain us tomorrow. The manna in the desert was only given from day to day, and whoever, through want of confidence, or a false wisdom, gathered it up for the next day, found it spoilt. Let us not in our anxious and ignorant foresight make unnecessary provision for ourselves, when God in His wisdom and foreknowledge provides for us. Let us depend entirely on His fatherly care and abandon ourselves to it utterly both for our temporal concerns and our spiritual and eternal interests. This is true and total abandonment which binds God to take all under His care with respect to those who abandon all and thus pay that honour to His sovereign dominion, His power, wisdom, goodness and mercy that is due to all His infinite perfections. Amen.

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