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

To the same Sister. On the fear of loving creatures more than God.

I am delighted, my dear Sister, that God has made use of my letter to reassure you and to make you understand the reason of the difference between the love that we have for God and that which we feel for creatures, about which you have been so terrified. It is true that if we were more holy our love for God would be more ardent, and more tender. The want of this sensible tenderness is well calculated to humiliate us but ought not to trouble us. It is another misery in addition to so many others which will become for us a source of grace and merit when we understand how to endure it in peace without any vexed feelings of self-love and pride. For, to regard all these miseries in peace and humility, trying all the time to diminish them with the help of God’s grace by perpetual vigilance and tranquil prayer is, so to say, no longer to have them, in the sight of God. 309Allow yourself to become thoroughly imbued with this truth, as certain as it is but little known. But I add, this coldness we feel towards God ought not to trouble us, because it by no means proves that we are deficient in real love. Recall the words of our Lord to St. Catherine of Siena: “My daughter, I leave to you and all creatures the love which is tender and sensible, and reserve for myself the love of preference which is purely spiritual.” This love resides in the apex of the soul; that impregnable citadel, the key of which is held by free will which governs the whole. As long as charity has not been driven from this citadel, even if the greatest indifference invades the feelings, nothing is yet lost; and should this sensible coldness be only a painful trial and not an effect of your own negligence, it will help to increase the merit of this genuine love. As an instance a Christian mother would weep and be inconsolable at the death of her beloved children; but how great soever her sorrow she would not have them return to life at the price of one single venial sin; do you not see that for this mother the horror of sin is the more heroic in being in opposition to a love that is more sensibly felt? It is the same with contrition, and all acts of the love of God. These acts are produced in the higher faculties of the soul, and are spiritually accomplished as if without our knowledge, and it is a great advantage to us that it should be so. During this life we are such miserable creatures that every gift that we recognize is changed into poison by our self-love. This is what in a measure compels God to hide the graces He bestows upon us. If we understood our own interests properly we should look upon this salutary blindness as the most precious of all graces, and like holy job we should never kiss His hand more lovingly than when it seems to weigh most heavily upon us.

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