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Letter III.—The First Work of God in the Soul.

To Madame de Lesen (1731).

On the first work of God in the soul.


I am not at all surprised at the effect of the first meditation on the great truths, and I thank our Lord for it, and congratulate you. You required these keen feelings, and I believe they are likely to last until they produce in you the spirit of compunction and of humility which should form the foundation of your spiritual structure, and the beginning of your spiritual infancy. The agitation which accompanied these feelings was too great, but if I am not mistaken, it was involuntary and perhaps necessary as an effect of divine justice. The same feelings when they recur will be quieter and more tranquil. I was aware before receiving your letter that God had given you great graces, and I guessed that you had not properly corresponded with them, and this I realise now better than before.

1st. Your soul is like a huge hall, quite bare, or at least very badly furnished.

2nd. It will never be a fit dwelling for our sovereign Lord if He Himself does not give and arrange the valuable furniture suitable for such a guest.

3rd. He will never make His arrangements nor bestow His gifts on your soul except in the silence of prayer. You have, therefore, only to keep the hall swept and clean with the help of grace, then let Him who takes care of the beautiful furniture with which it ought to be decorated, arrange it according to His own taste.

Do not meddle then without necessity in a work which your interference would spoil. Let it alone, and imagine yourself 127a canvas on which a great master is about to paint a picture, and arm yourself with courage because I foresee that it will take a considerable time to pound and mix the colours, and then to lay them on, arrange them and vary the tints. You must keep the canvas prepared and get it stretched and nailed to the frame; this is humiliation next to annihilation of self and an act of resignation and total abandonment inasmuch as you lose your own will in the will of God.

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