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Letter XIV.—Abandonment in Trials.

To the same person. On abandonment in trials of this nature.

My dear Sister,

1st. I always exhort you to be patient and to abandon yourself to God because you have need of these virtues. God alone is all, everything else is nothing. Attach yourself to Him therefore strongly, entirely and resolutely. He has intentions and designs which are not for us to fathom. For all our ills there is no other remedy; for all our sufferings no other consolation than submission, and complete abandonment. This is the most certain way of amassing a fortune for eternity and of gaining that true life which will never end.

2nd. Look upon your ills and infirmities as a very advantageous exchange for purgatory where you would have to suffer much more severely in the next life, if you did not pay your debts while here on earth.

One simple “fiat” during your exterior and interior pains will be enough to make you acquire true sanctity. Remind yourself of what St. Francis of Sales said to one of his penitents, “My daughter, repeat often during the day, ‘Yes, my heavenly Father, yes, and always yes.’” It is a very short and easy 282practice; nothing further is required to attain perfection. We need not go far to attain it, since we can easily do so without seeking it outside our own souls.

3rd. I am much edified by your holy reflexions about the very small amount of consolation you find in creatures, and I strongly approve of your taking this as a merciful punishment for your over great tenderness and excessive affection for your relations and friends. A trial endured in such a manner cannot fail to contribute powerfully to recall your affections to Him for Whom alone we are created, and apart from Whom we can find no repose.

4th. But I perceive that now, as formerly, the most afflicting trial you have to endure is the deprivation of all outward help for your soul. I have often told you, and again repeat, that although it is true that this help is a grace from God, yet, I maintain that, with regard to some people and certain characters, the withdrawal of this support is in the end a still greater grace, and a most efficacious means of sanctification. Listen to me without interruption. When God honours a soul by being jealous of its love, the greatest favour He can confer upon it is to gradually deprive it of everything that could turn its love away from Him; because never would it have sufficient courage and strength to detach itself. Now, God has seen that for a long time past, after having become detached from all other creatures, you still kept an attachment for and a confidence in your spiritual guide. This attachment was in no way wrong, most certainly, but it was the same sort of feeling that the Apostles had for their divine Master before His Resurrection. This jealous God Who aims at being loved purely and solely for Himself, cannot endure this sort of division, and therefore He has taken away from you the one who shared with Him the affection of your heart. This is truly your heaviest cross, because by it you have been attacked in that most sensitive spot, your heart, which formerly discovered so many ingenious pretexts to render its sorrow justifiable. I can hear you say to yourself that you do not regret this deprivation on account of the consolation of which it has robbed you, but because of the assistance it has given you for your spiritual progress and which is now taken from you. A mistake! an illusion of self-love! One “fiat” uttered in this sort of privation gains more merit in the sight of God than could be acquired by the most beautiful, the most worthy, the most consoling direction in the world. “But,” say you, “if one were guided by a connected course of advice one would not committ so many faults.” I answer that these faults are less displeasing to God than the smallest little attachment, however pure and innocent it may seem, and really 283be fundamentally. Therefore, I cannot sufficiently admire the goodness of God Who for many years past has led you by this sort of privation to break off in you all, even the least attachment. At present He is attacking your body by illness to detach you from yourself. He attacks the soul by weariness, disgust, callousness, and other troubles to detach you interiorly from all sensible help and consolation. If you will but allow Him to act freely in you, you will come at last to adhere only to Him by pure faith and in spirit, or, as St. Francis of Sales puts it, by the higher faculties of the soul. Let this God of all goodness act then, for He desires all your confidence. I cannot help adding that the longer I live, the more clearly I see and understand that everything depends solely on God, and that if everything is left to Him, all will go well. No sooner do I make the sacrifice of everything to Him, than all goes perfectly.

5th. You do well to think that there are others who have much heavier crosses than yours, but be careful that the thought of the weight of yours does not prevent you being resigned to God. We might very likely be deprived of a sensible and consoling submission, but that which comes from pure faith and is simply spiritual can never be wanting to us. That which is not spoilt by any sort of vain self-complacency is very much more meritorious. This is why God gives only this last sort of submission to most people, leaving the soul groaning and humbled under the weight of its afflictions. God’s gifts are according to our requirements. He bestows especial graces to enable us to bear extraordinary troubles. What we cannot help, patience makes bearable. This is what a pagan philosopher said, enlightened only by human reason; what then, may not faith and religion make us think and say when we look at the crucifix and think of the eternal happiness in store for us?

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