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To Sister Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil. On different kinds of difficulties.
My dear Sister,
How can you still feel surprised at that of which your experience ought to have convinced you for a long time past? As long as we live upon earth, and do not live among saints we shall always require patience to put up with each other. It is a good thing for us that such is the case, so that we may have more 273frequent opportunities of practising the most meritorious virtues; charity, humility, and self-renunciation. Let us then resign ourselves with a good grace to this necessity, let us try to profit by the faults of our neighbour and be indulgent towards them, and by our own faults and rise speedily from them. This is the only way to keep peace. I acknowledge that your habitual position is extremely hard, but then what a fund of merits for Heaven! what a magnificent opportunity of doing penance, and of practising heroic virtue! You can hardly fail, if it lasts, to attain in a short time, the grace of an interior life, if you continue to practise abnegation, and self-renunciation by charity, humility, resignation and abandonment to God. These acts of virtue will soon make your heart ready to receive the sweet infusion of divine love; and therefore I should feel very much disappointed on your account if you were given an easier and more agreeable post. These trials of which you complain were valued and sought for by the saints with eagerness, because they understood their worth and advantages for the reformation of the soul, and far arriving at true union with God. You have, for a long time past, been attacked by a temptation all the more dangerous the less you suspected its danger. This comes from never having rightly understood this truth, which is an article of faith, that everything that happens in the world, with the sole exception of sin, comes directly from God, and the ordinance of His will. Also further, although it is certain that God never wills sin, nor consequently the calumnies, persecutions and injustices of which His elect are the victims; He wills the consequences, nevertheless; that is to say, that He wills that His elect should endure calumny, persecutions, humiliations, and often martyrdom in a thousand different ways. I say the same of the consequences of our own sins. A man, by his own imprudence, or even by more culpable means, falls into poverty, illness, and all sorts of severe afflictions. God, while detesting the sin, wills its consequences, such as poverty, illness and misfortune. This man then can, and ought to say, “Lord, I have thoroughly deserved this, You have permitted it, it happens by Your will, may Your holy will be done, I acquiesce in all. I adore and submit.”
It was the knowledge of this great principle which made holy Job say, “The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the Name of the Lord.” He did not say, “The Lord hath given, and the devil hath taken away,” because the devil has no power to do so without the permission of God, and it was from this principle that he drew his perfect submission, constancy, and peace of mind.274
For want of being thoroughly imbued with this great principle, you have never known how to submit to certain conditions and events, nor, consequently to remain in them firmly and tranquilly according to the will of God. The devil has always tempted you, made you uneasy and deceived you by a hundred illusions and false arguments about them. Try then, I beg of you in the interests of your salvation and peace of mind, to put an end to such a mistake; you will, at the same time put an end to the vexations you feel, and to all the rebellious feelings of your nature. For this end accustom yourself to make acts of faith and submission about every event that happens either through the agency of men or the malice of the devil or your own fault, and even your sins. God has permitted it thus. He is Master, may He be blessed in all, and may His holy will be accomplished in all things. Fiat! Fiat!
Your situation is very painful, it is true, but on that account it is very sanctifying and is the best penance you could possibly perform, being assured that it is imposed on you by God Himself. All that the evil presents to your mind to the contrary is an evident illusion to deprive you of the peace of God, to make you sad, uneasy and vexed; always discontented with your present state, and sighing for some other. This is why so many in the world are as unhappy as they are culpable, for want of being able to understand this truth, so important and so consoling, of which I have just reminded you. How many torments would they not spare themselves, and how much merit would they not amass in the midst of their trials if they could but persuade themselves that God makes use of all things for His glory and for the benefit of His creatures; and that it remains for them to derive profit from all by a blind submission which must be total, general, without exceptions and without contrary arguments, at any rate, none that are deliberate. If I could but inscribe this truth on your mind and heart even with my blood! But God will do so Himself gradually I am sure, if you will but co-operate with His grace by rejecting at once all thoughts contrary to it. Once more I entreat you to submit in spite of all repugnance and disgust to the secret decrees of this adorable Providence, and you will become holy and pleasing to God.
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