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Letter III.—On Public Calamities.

To Sister Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil. On public calamities and disasters.


The disaster of which you speak is, as you say, a most visible scourge of God; happy will they be who take advantage of it to save their souls. These punishments, borne well, as from the hands of God, are of more value than all worldly prosperity. At the same time they may be made, by a bad use, the occasion to some of eternal reprobation. This will be, however, entirely by their own fault, and their very great fault, for what could be more reasonable, or easier in a sense than to make, as I said before, a virtue of necessity? Why make a useless and criminal resistance to the chastisements of God, Who is our Father and Who strikes us only to detach us from the miserable pleasures of this world? Could He do us a greater favour than to deliver us from attaching ourselves to that which would cause us to lose eternal happiness and our own souls! On such occasions it is well to think often and attentively of this passage in the writings of one of the Fathers of the Church. “Such is the goodness of our heavenly Father that even His anger proceeds from His mercy, since He only strikes us to withdraw us from sin, and to save us.” Like a wise surgeon He cuts the mortified flesh away from that which is sound to save the life of the patient, and to 270prevent the infection from spreading. We should accustom ourselves to see everything in the light of faith; and then no event of this life, nor desires, nor fears will have any effect on us. Those strong hopes that so frequently upset the peace of the soul and the tranquil course of life, even those will make very little impression on us. How blind men are! and how much attached to their own ideas! How rarely one meets with anyone who will own that he has been obliged to seek and to take good advice! St. Francis of Sales had good reason to say that we are all wanting in sense. At least let us understand the depth of the misery and blindness into which sin has caused us to fall. Let us learn from this to be always distrustful of ourselves, and to guard against our own judgments and perverse ideas. St. Catherine of Siena was so convinced of the truth of this that she wished she could cry out constantly in a way to be heard by everyone: “Lord help me, come to my assistance and have pity on me!” Do not forget in future that a simple “Fiat” with regard to your present pains, and to those which you fear in the future either for yourself, or for others, will suffice to amass for you a treasure of peace even on earth. If this practice does not bring perfect peace immediately, it will, at least, fill your soul with joy and enable you to taste a solid consolation in all your pains and fears.

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