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Letter II.—The Fear of Temptation.

To Sister de Lesen, a Religious of the Annunciation. On the fear of temptations.


My dear Sister,

It is an illusion to have too great a fear of combats. Never shrink from the occasions afforded you by God of acquiring merit, and of practising virtue, under the pitiful pretext of avoiding the danger of committing sin by avoiding the struggle. Do soldiers who fight for their king act in this way! and do we not know that we are soldiers of Jesus Christ and that our whole life is nothing but a continual struggle, and that only he who has fought valiantly will win the crown. Blush for your cowardice, and when you find yourself contradicted or humiliated say that now is the time to prove to your God the sincerity of your love. Put your trust in His goodness and the power of His grace, and this confidence will ensure you the victory. And even should it happen that you should occasionally commit some fault, the harm it will do you will be very easily repaired. This harm, besides, is almost nothing compared to the great good that will accrue to your soul either by your effort to resist, or the merit resulting from victory, or even by the humiliation these slight defects occasion you. And if your temptations are altogether interior; if you fear to be carried away by your thoughts and ideas, get rid of that fear also. Do not resist these interior temptations directly; let them fall, and resist them indirectly by recollection and the thought of God; and if you are not able to get rid of them in this way, endure them patiently. The distrust that makes you try to avoid temptations that are sent to you by God, will cause others more dangerous of which you have no suspicion, for, what temptation could be more evident and plain than the thought which you express when you say that you will never succeed in the spiritual life. What! are not all Religious called to this life and you in particular? Even this weakness so clearly revealed to you by your trial, and your inability to make any serious progress in perfection, or of enjoying any peace except in this way of life, is not this a magnificent sign that God calls you to it more especially than others? Open your eyes then and recognise the fact that all these thoughts that discourage, trouble, and weaken you, can only emanate from the devil. He wishes to deprive you of that spiritual strength of which you have need in order to overcome the repugnance that nature feels. I implore you not to fall into this trap, and not to continue to look upon the revolt of the passions as a sign of being at a distance from God. No, my dear daughter, 295it is, on the contrary, a greater grace then you can imagine. Becoming persuaded of your own feebleness and perversity, you will expect nothing from anyone but God and will learn to depend upon Him entirely. God alone ought to suffice to the soul who knows Him.

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