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165

Letter XXV.—God Only Desires What We are Able to Give.

To the same person.


The sort of martyrdom you are suffering will, if you endure it with patience and perfect resignation, be very pleasing to God, for all perfection consists in conforming your will entirely to the will of God in all things; that is to say, that you must never will anything else but what God wills. Now, it is of faith that God wills everything that happens to us, except sin, because with the exception of sin nothing happens in this world but by the hidden dispensations of Providence. This taken for granted, I cannot understand why you should suffer so much at the postponement of your sacrifice, since it is God who puts obstacles to it, and thus shows you that He only requires of you the desire to make it until such time as He, Himself, gives you the means and power to do so. But beware lest, since we always try to gratify our own will in all things, this inability should wound your self-love, make you lose interior peace, and cause all sorts of troubles. It is a sure sign that we are seeking rather to indulge our own self-love than to please God when we prefer our own will to His. For if we only desired to do His holy will we should always be content and tranquil with this thought, God only requires of me what I am able to give Him, and that is, the desire to consummate my sacrifice; and, according to His will this desire should be quiet, peaceful, and submissive to all the designs of His divine providence: but suppose I should never be able to accomplish my holy desires? Very well! that would prove to me that God does not require it, and I should be satisfied to do His holy will; because it would then be obvious that God did not wish for the sacrifice itself, but only that I should be willing to make it.

It was thus that God acted with regard to Abraham, whose generous readiness to sacrifice his son Isaac He rewarded as though the sacrifice had been consummated. It has been the same with many of the saints who had a very strong desire for martyrdom without being able to carry it out. God, not permitting nor desiring the actual sacrifice, is satisfied with the sacrifice of desire, which, in His sight, is the same thing.

But, suppose that in consequence of this I am obliged to live in the world, what will become of me? These are vain fears put into your mind by the devil to make you lose the peace of your soul. You must abandon yourself entirely to God, and put your whole trust in Him. He is powerful enough to make you stand firm in the world, and good enough to sustain you when it is by the arrangements of His providence that you live in it.

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You could not do better, therefore, than to practise recollection and abnegation in renouncing your own will in everything, but particularly in your too eager desires, however holy they may be; for this excessive vehemence, and these restless struggles show much imperfection and self-love. These defects are still more clearly shown in the vexation and distress to which you give way after falling into certain faults; for these feelings are never produced by the love of God, which, on the contrary, conduces to peace; but by a discontented self-love, and a secret pride stung by the sight of your own imperfections. A soul that is truly humble, instead of entertaining these useless and dangerous feelings, will, after a fall, humble itself gently and tranquilly before God without any uneasiness on account of it. It will feel sorry without anxiety and beg forgiveness without disturbance, and even thank Him for preventing it falling into greater sins.

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