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Letter IX.—The Love of Creatures and of God.

To Sister Marie-Antoinette de Mahuet. On the fear of displeasing God, and deceiving others.

Madame and very dear Sister,

I can only bless God for prolonging your trial, and for renewing those interior sufferings that you experienced in prayer because I find you are acquiring so much profit therefrom and practising so well the virtues I recommended to you, namely, the complete sacrifice of everything, and a total abandonment to the good pleasure of God.

Far from wishing to see you lose these occasions of amassing invaluable merit, I can only congratulate you and exhort you to persevere. Prayer made under such circumstances is indeed 310very painful, but at the same time it is the most fruitful and meritorious. If this great fear of displeasing God were anything else but a trial I could very easily dispel it. It will suffice to ask you from whence comes this fear, as your conscience is free from any serious matter, and as you feel and even know that usually to please God you would not hesitate to undertake things that are hardest to nature. You clearly perceive that your terrors are nothing but idle imaginations. Therefore if God does not wish you to be entirely delivered from them, you have nothing to do but to drop them like a stone in the water. Take no more notice of them than flies that pass backwards and forwards buzzing in your ears. Despise them and have patience. It is very surprising that after all I have said to you, and all that you have read you still recur to the interior changes and vicissitudes that you experience. It is just as if you imagined yourself obliged to note down all the variations of the atmosphere, and to make known to me that after a few fine days the weather had become stormy and that a hard winter had followed a very beautiful autumn. It is the rule established by God, and these are merely the vicissitudes of a life in which nothing is stable; it is what all the saints have experienced. In fine weather you must prepare for bad times, and when they come as they infallibly will, you must bear them patiently and let the storms blow over and wait for the return of better weather. Instead of all the violent and forced acts you compel yourself to make it would be much better, as I have already told you, to keep yourself in the presence of God in an interior silence of respect, humility, submission, and abandonment. But self-love is always anxious to feel and to enjoy; this cannot be, however, God does not wish it, so you must give in with a good grace. It occurs to your mind, I am aware, that you are deceiving everybody, but you know perfectly well yourself that you do not intend to deceive, and that ought to be enough for you. If it came into your head to kill yourself or to throw yourself from a height you would say at once, “What folly! I know well that I shall not do it.” Put a stop then in the same way to the follies and absurdities of the human mind and particularly of the imagination. These thoughts are like tiresome flies; put up with them patiently. When these have gone others will come and must be endured in the same spirit of patience and resignation.

I bless God for the holy interior dispositions of sacrifice, abandonment, death to self, and complete annihilation with which He inspires you. How can you for one moment imagine that God, Who is so good, would abandon you, when by such a singular change He accomplishes in you such wonderful 311operations, and favours you as He favours the saints? Indeed, what could He give you more in conformity with the holy Gospel, more sanctifying, or in any way better. Ecstasies and revelations are nothing compared to these interior dispositions of abjection, because it is precisely in these that sanctity and perfection consist. I can only urge you to let nothing be lost of these precious gifts by contrary acts, but when God is pleased to deprive you, apparently, of them, in taking away all these feelings, allow Him to do it. Let Him give, take away, and give again. Is He not Master of His gifts? His holy name be always equally praised.

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