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Letter VI.—Rules for General Direction.

To Sister Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil.

General direction.


My dear Sister,

1st. Do not burden yourself with vocal prayers besides those that are of obligation, but apply yourself especially to acquiring interior perfection and to mental prayer.

2nd. It is very useful to try and prevent faults by acts of penance, but it would be better still to endeavour to expiate them after having committed them, than to multiply your penances in advance without real necessity.

3rd. Moderate and supernaturalise your affection for those who are dear to you.

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4th. In order to excite yourself to fervour profit by the good examples and conservations of spiritual persons; but do not ever show contempt for, nor give way voluntarily to any dislike of others.

5th. Do not be so much vexed with yourself for being so often at war with your miserable nature; heaven is worth all these combats. Perhaps they will soon end, and you will speedily gain a complete victory. After all, they pass away and our rest will be eternal. Remain then in peace and let your humility be always united to confidence.

6th. Profit by bodily infirmities to strengthen your soul by the spirit of resignation to the will of God, and of union with Jesus Christ.

7th. Be careful to die to yourself; to renounce your natural inclinations; to stifle on every occasion human passions and tenderness. This kind of mortification is most essential; it does not injure the health, and is more efficacious than corporal austerities in multiplying merits, and in realising the designs of God, Who desires you to belong to Him entirely and without reserve.

8th. Labour to profit faithfully but peacefully by all the different states through which it pleases our Lord that you should pass for His glory, and your own perfection.

9th. It is necessary that zeal for one’s own advancement and for that of others under one’s care should be earnest and energetic, but never restless, nor accompanied with anxiety and distrust.

10th. Apply yourself to becoming more and more interior and aspire to all the perfection of your holy state by a perfect regularity. Humble yourself unceasingly before God so that He may render you victorious over yourself. You have need of a very powerful assistance to overcome your sensitiveness, and to destroy the fastidiousness natural to you, before you die, because these defects are the result of your character and temperament. True, this consideration somewhat excuses the faults, and excites the good God to compassion for His poor spouse, but nevertheless you must continue to fight so that even if your miserable pride and self-love are not absolutely destroyed before your last hour, death will, at any rate, find you at war with them, and trying to destroy them. Your principal weapons should be divine love, an infinite gratitude for Gods grace, complete confidence in Him and a profound contempt for yourself, but without discouragement, and in peace.

You will derive ever-increasing strength in Holy Communion, in prayer, in humility, sweetness, patience, obedience, mortification, and above all in interior abnegation.

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11th. Illness and infirmities accepted in submission to the will of God with humble thanksgiving, and in union with Jesus Christ, are very useful to expiate the past and to weaken the old Adam; they help also to make us die spiritually to all things before having to die naturally, which death in ending our transient ills will make us enter, let us hope, into the enjoyment of eternal happiness. As this kind of penance is sent to us by God Himself, and as we are thus unable to mortify ourselves exteriorly, we must make up for it by interior mortification, applying ourselves more earnestly to the destruction of self-love, pride, fastidiousness, and criticism of others, all of which are its bad fruits. Finally endeavour to become humble and simple as a little child for the love of our Lord, in imitation of Him, and in a spirit of peace and recollection. If God finds this humility in us He will prosper His work in us Himself. Persevere in being faithful to grace for the greater glory of God and for the pure love of Him. All consists in loving well, and with all your heart and in all your employments, this God of all goodness.

12th. According to our advance in the course of our earthly pilgrimage let us endeavour to increase in solid fervour, the perfection of our holy state, and the particular designs of God to our regard. When He grants us attractions and sensible devotion let us profit by them to attach ourselves more firmly to Him above all His gifts. But in times of dryness let us go on always in the same way, reminding ourselves of our poverty and also thinking that, perhaps, God wishes to prove our love for Him by these salutary trials.

13th. Let us be really humble, occupied in correcting our own faults, without reflecting on those of others. Let us see Jesus Christ in all our neighbours, and then we shall have no difficulty in excusing them as well as helping them and taking care of them. His example ought to be sufficient; look at His patience with His disciples who were so rough and ignorant. Let us turn all our energies to glorifying God in ourselves and in those who think well of us. Let us live hidden in Jesus Christ and dead to all created things and to ourselves; without this, Jesus Christ will not deign to dwell in us, at any rate, not in the way He aims at, which is in absorbing all our human life in His divine life. Besides we must bear with ourselves also out of charity as we put up with others, humbling ourselves and punishing ourselves for our faults as soon as possible. While praying for ourselves, let us also pray for sinners who are our brethren.

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