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SECTION V.—The Life of Faith.

The fruit of these trials. The conduct of the submissive soul.

It results from all that has just been described that, in the path of pure faith, all that takes place spiritually, physically, and temporarily, has the aspect of death. This is not to be wondered at. What else could be expected? It is natural to this state. God has His plans for souls, and under this disguise He carries them out very successfully. Under the name of “disguise” I include ill-success, corporal infirmities, and spiritual weakness. All succeeds, and turns to good in the hands of God. It is by those things that are a trouble to nature that He prepares for the accomplishment of His greatest designs. “Omnia cooperantur in bonum iis qui secundum propositum vocati sunt sancti.” “All things work together unto good to such as according to His purpose are called to be saints.” (Rom. viii, 28). He brings life out of the shadow of death; therefore, when nature is afraid, faith, which takes everything in a good sense, is full of courage and confidence. To live by faith is to live by joy, confidence, and certainty about all that has to be done or suffered at each moment according to the designs of God. It is in order to animate and to maintain this life of faith that God allows the soul to be plunged into and carried away by the rough waters of so many pains, troubles, difficulties, fatigues and overthrows; for it requires faith to find God in all these things. The divine life is given at every moment in a hidden but very sure manner, under different appearances such as, the death of the body, the supposed loss of the soul, and the confusion of all earthly affairs. In all these, faith finds its food and support. It pierces through all, and clings to the hand of God, the giver of life. 71Through all that does not partake of the nature of sin, the faithful soul should proceed with confidence, taking it all as a veil, or disguise of God whose immediate presence alarms and at the same time reassures the faculties of the soul. In fact this great God who consoles the humble, gives the soul in the midst of its greatest desolation an interior assurance that it has nothing to fear, provided it allows Him to act, and abandons itself entirely to Him. It is grieved because it has lost its Well-beloved, and yet something assures it that it possesses Him. It is troubled and disturbed, yet nevertheless has in its depths I know not what important grounds for attaching itself steadfastly to God. “Truly,” said Jacob, “God is in this place, and I knew it not” (Gen. xxviii, 16). You seek God and He is everywhere; everything proclaims Him, everything gives Him to you. He walks by your side, is around you and within you: there He lives, and yet you seek Him. You seek your own idea of God while all the time you possess Him substantially. You seek perfection, and it is in everything that presents itself to you. Your sufferings, your actions, your attractions are the species under which God gives Himself to you, while you are vainly striving after sublime ideas which He by no means assumes in order to dwell in you.

Martha tried to please Jesus by cooking nice dishes, but Mary was content to be with Jesus in any way that He wished to give Himself to her; but when Mary sought Him in the garden according to the idea she had formed of Him, He eluded her by presenting Himself in the form of a gardener. The Apostles saw Jesus, but mistook Him for a phantom. God disguises Himself, therefore, to raise the soul to the state of pure faith, to teach it to find Him under every kind of appearance; for, when it has discovered this secret of God, it is in vain for Him to disguise Himself; it says, “He is there, behind the wall, He is looking through the lattice, looking from the windows” (Cant. ii, 9). Oh! divine Love, hide yourself, proceed from one trial to another, bind by attractions; blend, confuse, or break like threads all the ideas and methods of the soul. May it stray hither and thither for want of light, and be unable to see or understand in what path it should walk; formerly it found You dwelling in Your ordinary guise, in the peaceful repose of solitude and prayer, or in suffering; even in the consolations You give to others, in the course of conversation, or in business; but now after having tried every method known to please you, it has to stand aside not seeing You in any of these things as in former times. May the uselessness of its efforts teach it to seek You henceforth in Yourself, which means to seek You everywhere, in all things without distinction and without reflexion; for, 72oh divine Love! what a mistake it is, not to find you in all that is good, and in every creature. Why then seek You in any other way than that by which You desire to give Yourself? Why, divine Love, seek You under any other species than those which You have chosen for Your Sacrament? The less there is to be seen or felt so much the more scope for faith and obedience. Do You not give fecundity to the root hidden underground, and can You not, if You so will, make this darkness in which You are pleased to keep me, fruitful? Live then, little root of my heart, in the deep, invisible heart of God; and by its power, send forth branches, leaves, flowers and fruits, which, although invisible to yourself, are a pure joy and nourishment to others. Without consulting your own taste, give of your shade, flowers, and fruit to others. May all that is grafted on you receive that indeterminate sap which will be known only by the growth and appearance of those same grafts. Become all to all, but as to yourself remain abandoned and indifferent. Remain in the dark and narrow prison of your miserable cocoon, little worm, until the warmth of grace forms you, and sets you free. Then feed upon whatever leaves it offers you, and do not regret, in the activity of abandonment, the peace you have lost. Stop directly the divine action would have you stop, and be content to lose, in the alternations of repose and activity, in incomprehensible changes, all your old formulas, methods and ways, to take upon you those designed for you by the divine action. Thus you will spin your silk in secret, doing what you can neither see nor feel. You will condemn in yourself a secret envy of your companions who are apparently dead and motionless, because they have not yet arrived at the point that you have attained; you continue to admire them although you have surpassed them. May your affliction in your abandonment continue while you spin a silk in which the princes of the Church and of the world and all sorts of souls will glory to be attired.

After that what will become of you, little worm? by what outlet will you come forth? Oh! marvel of grace by which souls are moulded in so many different shapes! Who can guess in what direction grace will guide it? And who could guess either, what nature does with a silkworm if he had not seen it working? It is only necessary to provide it with leaves, and nature does the rest.

Therefore no soul can tell from whence it came, nor whither it is going; neither from what thought of God the divine wisdom drew it, nor to what end it tends. Nothing is left but an entire passive abandonment, and to allow this divine Wisdom to act without interfering by our own reflexions, examples and methods. 73We must act when the time to act comes, and cease when it is time to stop; if necessary letting all be lost, and thus, acting or remaining passive according to attraction and abandonment we, insensibly, do, or leave undone without knowing what will be the result; and after many changes the formed soul receives wings and flies up to Heaven, leaving a plentiful harvest on earth for other souls to gather.

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