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Letter VI.—Fresh Suffering.

To Sister Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil. On the same subject and the renewal of pain.


My dear Sister,

Since you find my letters consoling and useful, I promise you that, wherever I may be, to the last moment of my life, I will continue to reply to yours faithfully.

1st. The imperfections and even the faults we may commit contrary to entire submission to the will of God, do not prevent that submission from dwelling in the heart, and do not destroy the merit of it. To make up for the harm these faults occasion us, it is sufficient to humble ourselves about them, and to return as quickly as possible to a filial abandonment into the hands of God.

2nd. I understand better than you imagine your anguish of heart and the weight that seems to crush it. For several years I was in the same state and about something, in itself very insignificant, that hurt my pride. I committed many faults, but I tried at once to recover the ground I had lost. Some time elapsed before I recognised the advantages I had derived from this trial. They appeared, eventually, so great and so numerous that I continue to thank God daily for having thus struck me in His mercy by making me pass through this spiritual cleansing. I feel convinced that in due time God will grant you very nearly the same ideas, and that then you will never tire of returning thanks to Him for that which so much afflicts you at present. I have also had similar experiences on innumerable occasions of the increase of trouble about which you speak; exactly like the paroxysms of a fever.

3rd. At such times, as in severe illness, you can only try to remain as much as possible in silence and peace; because, as regards express acts, and especially such as are sensible and consoling, one is not then in a fit state to make them. However, 350God sees the submission that has its foundation in the heart, and that is enough for gaining merit. In this state the less the consolation you enjoy so much the more the spiritual profit you will derive from it.

4th. It is not forbidden to ask God to take away these troubles, especially if they violently afflict the heart. Jesus Christ acted thus in the Garden of Olives; but you must add as He did and in union with Him, “Nevertheless not my will but Thine be done,” and although you may feel very great repugnance to adding these words and do so with much interior rebellion, it does not matter. It is the lower nature that resists and is afflicted. This resistance does not, however, destroy the resignation of the superior part; on the contrary, it does but increase the merit and hasten the progress of the soul in the paths of solid virtue.

5th. They are doing quite right in making you frequent the sacraments; you would commit a serious fault if you were to stay away, and nothing could be more dangerous for you. Neither depression, nor discouragement, nor trouble, nor confusion, nor any interior difficulty should ever prevent you going to Holy Communion. Such painful conditions, endured and accepted for God, are worth more than fervour and sensible consolation. The latter often only serve to feed and encourage spiritual self-love, the most subtle and evasive of all the forms of self-love, while the other dispositions tend to its gradual extinction. It is in this destruction of self-love that all true piety and all spiritual progress consist, while for want of real abnegation most devout people have only the appearance of piety. In the unsettled state of your health you should find only another subject for daily sacrifice that is very meritorious. You must submit to all the remedies and even resign yourself to give up fasting, even for a single day. Your worries and scruples about this matter have no foundation. You must make a sacrifice, for the sake of obedience, of these troubles and disinclinations however spiritual they seem to be. If you do otherwise it will be a real illusion which your own good sense should lead you to avoid, but to which I have seen many people, even Religious, give in.

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