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Letter XXV.—Interior Suffering.

To Sister Marie-Anne Thérèse de Rosen. Rules to follow during trials.

You know as well as I do, my dear Sister, that in order to raise souls to a state of perfection God is wont to make them bear all kinds of crosses and interior pains to prove their fidelity, to purify them, and to detach them from all created things. The most grievous of these crosses are those in which we may have been to blame ourselves, and where the poor soul severely reprimanded by others, and even more severely by itself, does not hear either outwardly or inwardly anything but a sentence of death. The person of whom you speak is in this state, therefore there is nothing to fear about her; all that you tell me proves on the contrary that God has particular designs with regard to her. When you write to her speak of nothing but patience, submission to God, and total abandonment to divine Providence, as one does to people in the world who are afflicted with temporal necessities. Above all make her try, by means of the most filial confidence in God, to repulse energetically all trouble and voluntary uneasiness. I repeat, voluntarily, because the poor souls to whom God sends this trial cannot master the troubles and anxieties by which they are obsessed. This is the subject of their greatest pain, and the most afflicting part of that state of humiliation in which for a certain time God retains them. Therefore they have nothing else to do but to submit to God about these paroxysms of interior suffering as well as about all the rest. Say to this poor soul that her best prayer will be to remain always in silence at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ, repeating like Him, and with Him, “Fiat.” “Oh heavenly Father, may Your will, not mine, be done in all things. It is You who arrange all our afflictions for the good of our souls. You would not act thus unless it were for my greater good and 334eternal salvation. Do with me what You will; I adore and submit.” I think that your friend does quite right not to examine her thoughts; an examination of that kind would only confuse her mind still more. She must leave all to God and despise these thoughts and the pretended cries of her conscience, and go forward without taking any notice of them, directly there is nothing absolutely bad in the act she wishes to perform. These vain scruples are a device of the devil to deprive her of peace, and thus to prevent her making progress in virtue; for trouble is to the soul a most dangerous malady which makes it too languid for the practice of virtue, as a sick person who is weak and languid is incapable of bodily exertion.

If she succeeds in preserving peace of mind she will gradually recover, just as an infirm and languid person recovers health by taking rest and good nourishment. I will give three methods by which to hasten her recovery.

1st. To repulse quietly from her mind all that troubles her and makes her anxious, looking upon this sort of thought as coming from the devil; because all that comes from God is peaceful and sweet, and helps to establish confidence in Him. It is in peace that He dwells and that He infuses those different virtues that bring souls to perfection.

2nd. Frequently to raise the mind and heart to God, with acts of submission, abandonment, and confidence in His paternal goodness, which only afflicts her at present to sanctify her.

3rd. To choose for her reading those books most likely to contribute to calming her mind and to inspiring her with confidence in God; such as “The Treaty,” by Mgr. Languet, the book on “Christian Hope,” the “Letters” of St. Francis of Sales. For the rest let her go on as usual without making any change in her conduct, making her confessions and communions as she is accustomed to, because the devil, to deceive her, and to weaken her still more, will very likely use every artifice to inspire her with dislike and an excessive fear of confession, of communion, and of all other spiritual exercises. She ought not to lend an ear to these evil inspirations but always to follow the light of faith and the holy practices of the Christian religion like a true and good daughter of holy Church. Amen.

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