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ON THE LOVE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR

There are only two duties that our Lord requires of us,—the love of God, and the love of our neighbour.  And, in my opinion, the surest sign for discovering our love to God is our love to our neighbour.  And be assured that the further you advance in the love of your neighbour, the further you are advancing in the love of God likewise.  But, oh me, how many worms lie gnawing at the roots of our love to our neighbour!  Self-love, self-esteem, fault-finding, envy, anger, impatience, scorn.  I assure you I write this with great grief, seeing myself to be so miserable a sinner against all my neighbours.  Our Lord, my sisters, expects works.  Therefore when you see any one sick, compassionate her as if she were yourself.  Pity her.  Fast that she may eat.  Wake that she may sleep.  Again, when you hear any one commended and praised, rejoice in it as much as if you were commended and praised yourself.  Which, indeed, should be easy, because where humility truly is, praise is a torment.  Cover also your sister’s defects as you would have your own defects and faults covered and not exposed.  As often as occasion offers, lift off your neighbour’s burden.  Take it off her heart and on upon yourself.  Satan himself would not be Satan any longer if he could once love his neighbour as himself.

Endeavour, my daughters, all you can, to be affable to all.  Demean yourselves so that all who have to do with you may love your conversation, so as to desire after your way of life.  Let no one be affrighted or turned away from the life of virtue and religion by your gloom and morosity.  This concerns religious women very much.  The more holy they are, the more affable and sociable should they study to be.  Never hold aloof from others because their conversation is not altogether to your taste.  Love them, and they will love you, and then they will converse with you, and will become like you, and better than you.  Let not your soul coop itself up in a corner.  For, instead of attaining to greater sanctity in a proud, and disdainful, and impatient seclusion, the devil will keep you company there, and will do your sequestered soul much mischief.  Bury evil affections in good works.  Wherefore be accessible and affable to all, and all in love.  Love is an endless enchantment, and spell, and fascination.

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