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CHAPTER IV

How she was unable to take food during Lent and Advent, being sustained by the Blessed Sacrament

Some time after her conversion, on the day the Annunciation of our Lady, her Love spoke within her, saying, that he wished her to keep the fast in his company in the desert, and immediately she became unable to eat, so that she was without food for the body until Easter, and with the exception of the three fast days, on which she had the grace to be able to eat, she took nothing during the whole of Lent.

She afterwards ate, as at other times, without disgust; and in this manner she passed twenty-three Lents and as many Advents, during which time she took nothing but a tumblerful of water, vinegar, and pounded salt. When she drank this mixture, it seemed as if it were thrown upon a red-hot surface, and that it was at once dried up in the great fire that was burning within her. How wonderful! for no one, however healthy, could bear a drink of this kind, fasting; but she described the sweetness that proceeded from her burning heart, as so great, that even this harsh beverage refreshed her.

This rejection of food, at first, gave her great trouble, for now knowing the cause, she suspected some deception; but when she, again and again, forced herself to take food, and her stomach rejected it, all her family, as well as herself, regarded it as a prodigy; for even when she attempted to eat, in obedience to her confessor, the result was the same.

This was the more remarkable, because at other times she could eat and retain her food, even up to the very day when Lent and Advent began. During the seasons when she could not eat, she practiced pious works more than at other times, she slept better, and felt stronger and more active; and she also went to table with the others, to avoid, as far as possible, all singularity; and even forced herself to taste something, in order to escape observation; then she would say to herself: “Oh if you knew what I feel within!” By this she meant the burning and pure love, and union with God, which those around her could hardly endure, so much were they astonished that she could not eat; but she paid no heed to them, saying to herself: “If we regarded the operations of God, we should look at the interior more than the exterior. Living without food is purely an operation of God, without my will; but it is nothing to boast of, or to cause surprise, for to him it is as nothing. The pure light shows us, that we should not regard the manifestations that God makes of himself for our necessities and his own glory, but only the pure love with which his divine majesty performs his work in our behalf, and the soul becoming these pure operations of a love which looks for no good that we can do, must needs love him purely, without regard to any particular grace which she receives from him, but looking to him alone, for himself alone, who is worthy of being loved without measure, and with no reference either to soul or body.”

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