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Letter IV.—Purification of the Heart.


From the bottom of my heart I bless God, my dear Sister, for carrying on His work in you. The crushing weight that you feel on your heart is one of the most salutary operations of that crucifying love which does in your heart what fire does to green 348wood. Before the flame can make its way the wood crackles, smokes, and gives out all the damp with which it is saturated; but when it is perfectly dry it burns quietly, diffusing all round it a brilliant light. This will be the case with you after your heart has been purified by many crosses, and particularly by these crucifying spiritual operations. You must therefore endure these operations with courage, with sweetness, avoiding as much as possible worrying, or distressing yourself interiorly. This is the good and sufficient penance that God requires of you. It is of more value than any corporal austerities, although everyone ought to practice the latter according to his strength and health. In what you add I see an evident sign of the good effect produced by your present trial. It seems to you, you say, that you are always waiting for something that is wanting to you. This is because your heart, tired of creatures; and unable to exist without joy and love, feels more keenly than ever a longing for that sovereign good which can alone satisfy it. The greater the void left in the heart by its withdrawal from all earthly affections, the greater is the ardour with which it sighs after the enjoyment of God, and of His holy love. This it is for which you are waiting; and it is precisely by this waiting and these secret sighs that at last you will obtain this divine love. The waters of life are given to those who thirst for them. Ardent desires are the money with which to buy this sublime and exquisite enjoyment of God; that heavenly food which alone can appease the hunger and thirst of the soul; whereas the love for, and even the possession of all created goods does nothing but inflame and irritate, without ever satisfying them.

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