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Letter XIX.—On Relapses.

To the same Sister. On the same subject and on relapses.

My dear Sister,

The recital you have given me of your troubles, and, above all of your faults and interior revolts, has inspired me with the most lively compassion; but, as to a remedy I really know of no other than that which I have so often pointed out to you; each time you have a fresh proof of your misery to humble yourself, to offer all to God, and to have patience. If you fall again do not be any the more disquieted or troubled the second time than the first, but humble yourself yet more profoundly and do not fail to offer especially to God the interior suffering and confusion caused by the revolts and faults to which your weakness has given rise. Even if fresh occasions occur, return each time to God with an equal confidence, and endure as patiently as possible the renewed remorse of conscience and these interior trials and rebellions, and continue to act in this way. If you always do so you must understand that you will hardly lose anything, there will be much even gained in these involuntary interior rebellions from which you are suffering. Whatever faults occur, provided you endeavour always to return to God and also to yourself in the manner I have just explained, it is impossible that you should not make great progress. Oh! how little are solid virtue and true interior abnegation known! If once for all you would learn to humble yourself sincerely for your least faults, and would rise directly by confidence in God with peace and sweetness, that would prove to you a good and certain remedy for the past, and a powerful help, and efficacious protection for the future.

I greatly approve of your keeping away from discussions and arguments, and of your dislike of them. There certainly is, as a rule, a great amount of petty illusions and self-love about such things, for this wretched self-love, says St. Francis of Sales, mixes with everything, intrudes everywhere, spoils everything. This is the effect of human misery to which we are all more or less subject. When we recognise it in others there are two things we have to do; first we must find excuses for those whom we notice to have been led away by it, and secondly to fear for ourselves and watch over our own conduct so that we may not in our turn be subjects of scandal to our neighbour.

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