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Letter XII.—Rules to Free Oneself from these Fears.

It depends on yourself, my dear Sister, to free yourself once and for all from the fears which torment you on the subject of your confessions. It only requires a grain of faith and of docility in following the perfectly safe rules that I will outline for you.

1st. Never ask to be freed from this trouble, because God has made it perfectly clear to you why He permits it. It is because He wishes to be your only support, your sole consolation, and to have your complete confidence so that no other sensible motive may interfere to spoil the singleness of your love. Finding that you had not the courage to attain to this purity of love by making heroic sacrifices like the saints, He leads you gradually to it by less painful means. Return thanks to Him for so much condescension, and compel yourself to submit to His merciful designs.

2nd. Prepare for your confessions in the following manner. 314After a quarter of an hour at the very utmost for the examen, and without taking too much trouble but doing it as you best can, you will say to yourself, “By the mercy of God I live in a state of habitual contrition since I would not commit a mortal sin for anything this world could give me. I even feel a horror of venial sin, although, unhappily, I have not yet left off committing it; therefore I only have to make an act of contrition as best I can, and as He has put it into my heart by His grace.” That will not take long, a few minutes will suffice, and the best way to make acts of contrition is to pray that God will Himself produce them in you.

3rd. “But what if it should be impossible to remember any distinct fault?” This is what you must say: “Father, I have not light enough to see my ordinary faults but I accuse myself in general of all the sins of my past life, and particularly of such and such a sin of which I ask pardon of God from the bottom of my heart.” After that accept tranquilly the penance that your confessor gives you, and do not have any doubt whatever that the absolution he pronounces confers on you all the graces attached to this sacrament.

What on earth, I ask you, could be easier or more consoling? If you adopt this method you will be delivered from all the anxieties that have so much harassed you up to now. I should like this little rule to be known and practised by most of the members of your community who experience the same difficulty as yourself, and who, like you, could so easily be set right.

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