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Letter XX.—Holy Simplicity.

To Sister Anne-Marguerite Boudet de la Bellière. On the same subject.


My dear Sister,

The way in which you take your little trials is infinitely pleasing to God, and I do not fear to give you this assurance, because in so generously renouncing, as you do, all interior sweetness and consolation for the love of Him, you merit to receive them more abundantly when the time arrives. The little, you tell me, that you have remembered of what I have told you, is the essential part, and that ought to suffice. God sees the heart, and that is all that He wants. Perfection does not consist in a multiplicity of acts even though interior; on the contrary the more we advance the more is God pleased to make it out of our power to produce many acts, but invites us to remain in His presence in a state of silence and humble recollection. Follow this attraction 158of grace. Be content to renew from time to time a simple act of faith and of charity, accompanied by total resignation and filial confidence. In all the different changes both interior and exterior, say always from the depths of your heart, “My God, I wish what you wish, I refuse nothing from Your fatherly hand, I accept all, and submit to all.” In this simple act, continued, or rather habitual, consists our whole perfection. Also in this the heart and soul are kept in peace at their centre even when agitated on the surface by different trials and emotions that war against it. The better you understand how to maintain this holy interior simplicity the greater will be your progress, or to speak more correctly, the more God will help you to advance.

Do not, however, expect to be able to measure the progress you make; that is impossible for this reason, that your progress depends more on the work of God in your soul than on your own acts, and that this work being purely spiritual, on that account is hardly perceptible.

However, I give you some signs by which you may recognise in future the results of the divine action in your change of heart.

1st. A holy indifference which resembles a sort of insensibility to all things of this world.

2nd. A fund of peace from which it follows that you will not trouble yourself about anything, even about your faults and imperfections, and far less about those of your neighbour.

3rd. A certain attraction towards God and the things of God; a sort of hunger and thirst after justice, that is to say, after virtue, piety, and all perfection. This hunger, which is very keen, is, nevertheless, exempt from eagerness and trouble, and leads you to will always what God wills, and nothing more; to bless Him in spiritual poverty as much as in abundance.

Remember always this great saying of Jesus Christ: “If you do not become like little children you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Be on your guard never to infringe, in the slightest degree, this holy simplicity, so little known, so little esteemed, yet so precious in the sight of God. Be always more and more upright and simple in your thoughts, words, opinions, actions, and behaviour. There are people who want to be just the contrary, and who pretend to be, out of vanity. How very far are these people from the Kingdom of God, since they have not even the foundation of it, which is humility. Whenever you go to pray, or leave it with a quiet, recollected, and well-disposed mind, you will always derive some fruit from it one way or another, and all the more when you believe that God is farthest from you, for then He will be nearest. Do not make a number of acts during prayer, but make a few very quietly, with the greatest repose of mind and heart, and in the greatest tranquillity 159possible. During the day do not force yourself to make so many different acts, and still less to feel fervour and devotion in making them; keep yourself firmly, humbly, and patiently in peace, tranquil and quite resigned in this emptiness of the mind and of the will. It is this emptiness of the spirit which conduces to pure love, and union with God.

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