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Letter XVI.—Detachment.

To Sister Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil. Bitterness mingled with pleasure to detach the soul.

1st. I am not surprised, my dear Sister, at the trouble which the grievous trial to which our Lord has subjected you, has caused. This sort of event affects us all the more keenly in that they wound us in our most intimate affections. But if I am not surprised at this involuntary trouble, at the same time I urge you to supersede it in your heart by an entire resignation to the will of God. How great will be the treasures of grace, of merit, and of peace which such an act will bring to you! It is on this account that I have so constantly inculcated the virtue of perfect abandonment, and still preach it incessantly, wishing you to become as tranquil and as happy as I wish you to be holy. You have not yet attained to this, but with God’s help you will.

2nd. God allows my sick relation to remain in the same state, to prove, and to convert the whole family. If they avail themselves of this opportunity, as I have every reason to believe they will, I shall bless God from the bottom of my heart for this happy occurrence which is worth more than all the fortunes in the world.

3rd. I am about to lose the best and dearest friend I had left, one whom I most esteemed, and on whom I could thoroughly rely. God has willed it thus. His holy will be done! Fiat! I commend him to your prayers.

4th. Blessed be God in all, and for all, but especially in this, that He knows so well how to make everything serve for the sanctification of His elect by one another. On this subject the holy Archbishop of Cambray has well said that God makes use of one diamond to polish another. What a useful thought for our consolation! and one that will prevent us ever being scandalised at the little persecutions of one another that good people are given to.

5th. Hail and rain have caused great havoc in many provinces as well as in your neighbourhood. May God grant us grace to derive profit from all these disasters for the expiation of our sins. A simple and sincere “fiat” is worth more than all the superfluities that we desire, because it adds to our treasure for eternity. Once filled with these high thoughts and hopes, we shall feel much less the occurrences of this short and miserable life.

6th. By dint of constantly thinking of death, we shall gradually come to contemplate it without shrinking. Fr. Bourdaloue 287has very well expressed this when he said, “the thought of death is indeed a sad one, but by dint of considering it as salutary, it will at last appear almost pleasant”; and a Jesuit theologian, Fr. Francis Suarez, said when his last moment came, “I did not know it was so sweet to die.”

7th. Sometimes one hears it said, “I have no longer either help to fortify me, or instruction to encourage me.” This is an occasion for sacrifice, “fiat, fiat.” All instruction, however much it may strengthen us, does not equal in value what we gain by one simple “fiat” uttered in the lack of all extraneous help. The high road to all perfection is pointed out in the “Our Father.” “Fiat voluntas tua.” Say this with your lips as well as you can; and still more perfectly in your heart, and be assured that, with this interior disposition nothing is wanting to you, nor ever will be. Learn by this to find repose in no matter what difficulties and troubles, because all will come right when God pleases, and according to our desires, if He should will it so, or permit it. Crosses and afflictions are such great graces that the wicked are rarely converted without them, and good people are only made perfect by the same means.

8th. God can easily make up for all, and really does so if we wish for nothing but Him, and expect to receive all from Him alone. It is in order to lead us gradually and by a happy necessity to this beautiful and desirable condition that He frequently deprives us of all human aid and consolation, and in the same way He mingles bitterness with worldly pleasures to disgust and detach the souls of worldly people from them, in order to save them. Fortunate disappointments! happy privations! which come from the goodness of God rather than from His justice. It is thus that we ought to regard them.

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