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Letter XIV.—On Reserve with a Director.

To Sister Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil. On a difficulty in and a dislike to opening one’s mind to a director.


Believe me, my dear Sister, it is necessary to struggle with all your power against the repugnance you feel to open your mind, and to regard as a most dangerous temptation the jealous susceptibility you experience when you imagine that someone has revealed your fault. It is the devil who inspires such fear and pain at having your interior miseries made known, because he knows by countless experiences that those souls that have sufficient courage and humility to disclose themselves thus, simply and straightforwardly, are speedily cured, or at least very greatly consoled. He knows, too, that those wounds of the soul most frequently healed by such a disclosure, can become poisoned and inflamed if not shown to the physician. In fact nothing is more evident than that, as long as we are full of self-love, which only dies when we die, we shall be exposed to deceive ourselves as to what concerns us, and to make to ourselves a false conscience. This consideration is calculated to make us tremble, whoever we are. To avoid this danger there is only one means; not to trust to our own light in what regards ourselves, but to allow our directors to guide our conscience, and to them we must make known with great frankness all that might serve to enlighten them. The misfortune is that even in these revelations we risk being deceived by our self-love, and also to mislead those of whom we ask advice. What is to be done to guarantee ourselves against this fresh danger? Well! those who guide us must be enlightened by others about us; and this is just what is so difficult to put up with. There are plenty of people very much inclined to exercise zeal with regard to others, who find it very unpleasant when they are subject to it themselves. This ought not to be. True zeal should say to itself “Think of yourself, and do not trouble about others who are not under your care, and be very thankful that some charitable person has made known to your director what is thought about you, so that he will be better able to guide you in future.” This two-fold 207feeling is only to be found in the most perfect souls, and, perhaps, in some persons of an extraordinary natural sincerity if but of moderate virtue. Usually a zeal for instructing others is accompanied by a great sensitiveness with regard to the persons who desire to render us the same good office by instructing our director thoroughly as to what is thought and said about us. Here again we have that two-fold illusion of all ordinary devotees in the world, and also in the cloister. Examine yourself without any flattery as to this two-fold matter, and enlighten yourself with the considerations I have just given you.

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