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Letter XVII.—Conduct during Trials.

To the same Sister. On conduct during trials.

My dear Sister,

Ought you not to be able to overcome your fears, and to check your tears after all the experience you have had of the way in which your mind creates phantoms when anything affects it keenly, making you indulge in idle terrors? If it is impossible to prevent these tiresome wanderings of the imagination, at least endeavour to gain some profit by them, and to make of them matter for interior sacrifice, and an occasion for the exercise of a complete abandonment to all the decrees of divine Providence whatever they may be. I am of your opinion, and have never 288desired, and still less, prayed for pains and contradictions. Those sent by Providence are quite enough without wishing for more, or inflicting them on oneself. We must wait and prepare ourselves for these; that is the best way to gain strength and courage to receive them, and to bear them properly when God sends them. This is one of my favourite practices, and suits me both for this life and the next. I offer to God, beforehand, all the sacrifices that occur to my mind without any effort of my own. It is to enable us to acquire the merit of this offering that God tries us by these ideas, and these fears of future evil that He does not intend to send us. When, on the other hand, He sends us consolations whether spiritual or temporal, we ought to accept them simply, with gratitude and thanksgiving, but without clinging to them or taking too much pleasure in them, because all joy that is not in God only serves to feed our self-love. Your solitude in the absence of the person on whom you could most rely, in spite of her having been very tiresome, cannot fail to be very good for you. How many acts of resignation will you not have made in your illness and weakness! How often will you not have raised your heart to God! How many holy affections and good resolutions will you not have made! You will be saved by the good will which God sees in your heart. Each of us has a particular path to follow, according to his light. Try to make use of your present circumstances and of your sadness, to place your whole confidence in God, both for time and eternity. The present calamities of which you paint so sad a picture, will, if only for the sake of your own peace, place you under the necessity of making incessantly, very meritorious sacrifices to God. Public misfortunes are great, but the part you can take about them is great also. The lives of sinful men, and that we all are, ought to be passed entirely in works of penance and mortification, and God shows His mercy by giving us this remedy with His own hand. The chalice is bitter, it is true, but how infinitely more bitter would be the pains of hell, or of purgatory; and since we must drink this chalice whether we like it or not, let us, as the proverb says, make a virtue of necessity. In this way all our difficulties will be smoothed away. As you say, interior sufferings are much harder to bear, but they are also more meritorious and purifying, and after having been made to endure these purifications and detachments, everything else seems easy. Then it will be much more easy to give oneself up to a perfect abandonment and a filial confidence in God through Jesus Christ. The reflexions you make on this subject are reasonable and true, but too human. We should always revert to abandonment and hope in divine Providence, for what can man do, exposed as he is to continual 289vicissitudes? Let us depend then on God alone, for He never changes, and knows better than we do what is necessary for us, and, like a good father, is always ready to give it. But He has to do with children who are often so blind that they do not see for what they are asking. Even in their prayers, that to them seem so sensible and just, they deceive themselves by desiring to arrange the future which belongs to God alone. When He takes away from us what we consider necessary, He knows how to supply its place imperceptibly, in a thousand different ways unknown to us. This is so true that bitterness and heaviness of heart borne with patience and interior silence, make the soul advance more than would the presence and instruction of the holiest and cleverest director. I have had a hundred experiences of this, and am convinced that, at present, this is your path, and the only things that God asks of you are submission, abandonment, confidence, sacrifice, and silence. Practice these virtues as well as you can without too violent efforts.

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