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Letter XVI.—Sensitiveness about Defects.
To Sister Charlotte-Elizabeth Bourcier de Monthureux. Sensitiveness about defects a sign of self-love.
My very dear Sister,
1st. I thank you for your good wishes, and above all for your prayers. I also pray for you every day at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I thank our Lord for the good effect produced in your soul by my letters, but you must allow me to remark that I find you still very sensitive about the state of misery, poverty, and spiritual weakness to which you find yourself reduced. This can only come from a great amount of self-love which cannot endure a state of nothingness, and abhors the necessity of self-effacement. Nevertheless you must necessarily pass through this trial because your mind has to be emptied of self before it can be filled by the Spirit of God, and He will make you die to your old life, before you are able to begin a new one. What you want is to acquire the one without losing the other; this cannot be: have patience and preserve a certain peace in the centre of your soul during these interior tempests. Your state of obscurity and callousness, to whatever degree it may attain, need not alarm you; all that is necessary is to submit, and to abandon yourself entirely to God. Do not worry yourself to try and feel submissive; feeling has nothing to do with this business; it is enough if you are willing to submit, for this is practised by the higher part of the soul.
2nd. You are wrong in finding your weakness a subject for anxiety. As long as you have confidence in God, He will sustain you as He has done hitherto on the brink of the precipice. Possibly it will be by an imperceptible thread, but, in the hand of God, this slight thread is like a thick rope.
3rd. In the painful positions of which you speak there are only two things to be done; either to throw yourself in spirit at the feet of Jesus Christ, and to kiss those sacred feet, or, if you cannot do that, keep an interior silence of submission and adoration, and content yourself with an exterior sign, such as, raising your eyes to heaven, and then lowering them and bowing your head, remaining thus for a little while in union with Jesus Christ in the Garden of Olives. If possible, remain ever there, by the side of Jesus Christ humiliated, cast down, and annihilated before His Father. I love to see you in prayer taking the position of a beggar, of a beast of burden; but still more do I love that indescribable something which inwardly draws you on without any distinct aim, but with a certain dry repose full of aridity. When you get so far, hold on to this state contenting 255yourself with waiting in that peaceful expectation of which I have so frequently spoken to you. Again at other times try to make some acts, or to read something as quietly as possible and with frequent pauses to give room for the interior attraction to act. But always remember that you ought to follow the least attraction that draws you interiorly, and to retain it peacefully without too much exertion, and without seeking out distinct thoughts. This repose in the presence of God, this slight recollectedness is of even greater value, and will cause you to make more progress than the most sublime thoughts.
4th. I congratulate you in having, by the help of the grace of God, overcome the rebellion and repugnance you felt with respect to your office. It is by these difficult victories that solid virtue is acquired. All the details you give me about your painful feelings and distastes make me see the goodness of God Who desires to destroy in the centre of your heart that presumption of which you could never be cured without this bitter medicine. These truly diabolical feelings that God allows the devil to produce in your soul are an antidote to that much more diabolical feeling of pride. Learn from this to allow God to act, and to abandon yourself, if it so please Him, to much greater miseries and interior humiliations. If He should condemn you to these, He knows well how to draw you out of them, with great profit to your soul, provided always that you are faithful in calling upon Him with confidence out of the depths of your nothingness.
5th. I think that what you say is true; God wills your humiliation; love this state for yourself because it forms some resemblance between you and your divine Spouse. This love for and desire of humiliations will make you progress more in the ways of God than all the other practices together. Try, therefore, to profit by every little occasion, and feed your mind on the thought and desire of abjection, just as worldly people feed their minds on thoughts and desires of vanity. The profound peace that you have begun to experience in the midst of humiliations, contempt, and rebuffs, is one of the greatest graces of which you have ever spoken to me. If you continue thus a great change will be effected in your soul by this means alone.
6th. As to what regards exterior mortification, follow in everything the rules of moderation, discretion and obedience, but make up for what they refuse to allow you to do, by interior abnegation in refusing yourself the least little desire, the least little pleasure, and the least thought which is not of God and for God, rejecting all that is useless in order to occupy yourself exclusively with Him. Oh! what a joy and triumph for me when I shall see my dear daughters abject like Jesus Christ, 256humbled and annihilated! Do you, therefore, follow the grace of this attraction; it will lead you on. I cannot repeat often enough that I will never cease praying that God may give you this holy love of abjection. About evening devotions; I have neither time nor inclination to enter into the subject. Believe me you already have too many practices, and must try to simplify matters that relate to the soul. Just the presence of God, abandonment to God; just the desire to love God, and to be united to Him. These are the most simple exercises, and more definite for souls a little advanced in spiritual matters, and of far greater importance than any exterior practices.
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