The United States of the World​​
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       The Letters Of Jean Duvergier De Hauranne ​​​​​​
                         Abbot Of Saint-Cyran​​
                    Translated From the French By Daniel F. McNeill

                                                        1

    It is difficult to have true contrition after a mortal sin, and all the more difficult after a large number of mortal sins. But when God wishes to save a soul and convert it, he begins within by a change of heart. And when what is within, that is, the heart, has been changed there is nothing that the soul  be not ready to do. A sinner who experiences God’s love by a sincere repentance is really changed, converted, regenerated. When he returns to God by a humble confession of his sin, he receives not only a perfect remission of the sin but a perfect resurrection and a completely new life as a member of the body of Jesus Christ.
   The judgments of God are terrible. From a countless number of sinners, there are few who receive the baptism by which original sin is set aside. And there are still less who having lost the grace of baptism because of some mortal sin return to God by a true repentance. It is difficult to convert anyone who has violated just once his baptism. One of the greatest ignorances of Christians is precisely this truth and we should not be astonished by it. Who would ever have believed that the old law of the Old Testament was of no use for the salvation of the Jews but had the contrary effect only making them dishonest although the average Jew believed the opposite? There is a parallel ignorance among Christians regarding the easy nature of conversion after committing a mortal sin. Grace falls only very rarely and with great difficulty on Christians who have trampled down by their sins the blood of Jesus Christ by which they were redeemed and who have extinguished in themselves the Holy Spirit.
   Sins are not cured as easily as is normally imagined.  You can not obtain their remission except by a solid repentance followed by a change of heart that God has reserved for himself alone. We must assume that almost all sinners live in great ignorance and that they do not know that true remission of sin can not happen without true penitence. Among the few souls who save themselves, we must include just as many among the rich as the poor but the more a person is rich, the more his conversion is difficult even at the time of the first attempt but much more the second and much more again the third. The difficulty grows with the new sins committed. And it is difficult also with the wise and the well educated and with those who are virtuous according to moral and civil standards of behavior. It is more difficult to convert such people than the depraved. There is nothing so difficult as real conversion. And if if someone has been converted and wishes to live the style of life he lived before, he deceives himself. Jesus Christ said that sinners will not enter into heaven unless they become like little children. This is done with great difficulty by the rich, the wise, the well educated, the curious and those who put their trust in their virtue. For they do not have at all the necessary meekness and they have even less the submission to God’s will necessary to die completely to sin and receive God’s grace in their souls.
   A sinner without the knowledge of how to cure himself must find one leader whom he obeys without any reservation and who has in full measure these three qualities: love of God, expertness and prudence. A  leader’s expertness and his love of God will not allow him to be ignorant either of the magnitude of the sin or of the difficulty that must be overcome. His prudence will govern him admirably to adapt himself appropriately when he will see the person in his charge truly changed within. But when he will see him not truly changed, he will  urge him to prayer and to other good works in order to attract the spirit of God to him, which can not be attracted otherwise.  The sinner will find a true director if he searches.  The church of Christ is never without them and they have been found within it throughout all the centuries. Otherwise the gospel would deceive us. Whoever has a good guide does not need to know the road. It is enough if he has a good will to follow the one who leads him in order to walk on God’s path.This man will be a man of the church and he will take the place for him of the whole church.  For this reason he will not be able to mislead him and he will no doubt know all the practices  necessary for the salvation of sinners. They can not lose their way in the church because in the church they are in the succession of its truth and of its teaching, without which the church would not be the church of Jesus Christ.

                                                            2

    The effects of prayer are not just those that result from the prayer itself. For God hides the grace and the light that he causes because of prayer to keep men always humble and dependent on him. A farmer does not expect that seeds produce something at the time he puts them in the earth. When we pray, we sow seeds in Heaven but full absolution does not grow at once from interior actons alone. They should be accompanied by exterior actions of penitence and of good works to reach their full effect.

                                                              3

​    We can leave the path we take to follow God by a single word, by a momentary silence, by a desire of the soul or by a step taken by our body. Christian virtue is made up of  exact understanding. If we begin to walk just a little unsteadily on our path, we run the risk of soon abandoning it. Try to keep yourself separated from the world and say to yourself often: listen, look, be silent. If you can maintain a continual separation from the world, you will grow in the grace of the son of God day and night, without even thinking about it, even among the necessary distractions outside yourself that you cannot avoid. Be devoted to God even during your regular occupation without ever forgetting that even the best exterior work is not by any means free of sin unless it is done for God.

                                                              4

​    The short-lived preparations that last for only a time are not of any great importance before God for no matter what and especially for the priesthood which is the most holy state in religion. Since it is eternal and unchangeable, it ought to be established in a stable and permanent disposition which may not be measured by time but passes all the way into eternity. This disposition does not consist of a few good works or in a few religious and saintly exercises but in a stable state of virtue printed on the bottom of the soul which partakes of its immortality and is more inward than all the actions and all the movements that it could possibly produce. This is a matter that cannot be explained to men and that cannot be conceived except by divine light alone. The virtue of a priest ought to be solid and invariable and so engraved in his heart that it is for him as though natural and produces all its movements and all its desires according to God almost without him thinking about them. Acquiring this virtue is the true preparation for the priesthood and it can be called essential since it is sufficient in and by itself. It is not dependent on some short period of time or even on a period of years but on the whole life of a man who cannot reach this state without extraordinary grace from God and after a long exercise of Christian and Evangelical virtues. One particular disposition for the priesthood may be acquired by asking God in prayers and by actions for true humility. It does not consist of visible humbling but in the invisible renunciation of one’s will and one’s spirit to depend completely on the spirit and will of God. It is the disposition by which Jesus Christ entered into his glorious priesthood. He offered divinely to his father in heaven the same host that he offered him in a human manner on the cross. For he was raised up to this state only because he humiliated himself, obeying his father by his humiliation having come into the world to do his father’s will and not his own. He gave up his own will to follow the will of his father up to death and since this humiliation, this obedience, this dispossession of his own will and of his own spirit was the way by which he was raised to the glory of his priesthood, it should not seem astonishing that it is the way by which men can also participate in the priesthood.

                                                             5

    After the schism, there is not a greater sin than scandal in religious matters. Kindheartedness having its origin in God prevents scandals and schisms. We should remember that order in the church is established by God and by the Holy Spirit and that no one can bring into it any change except the same Holy Spirit that instituted it.

                                                        6

    When temptation and weakness caused by sickness mix themselves together, our own fault has always its place in our distress. We should have been vigilant and fought against something repugnant taking birth in ourselves. Our slackening gives a place to our enemy to torment us. We must always remember that everything at the beginning depends on our great attention and it is then at the beginning of our distress that we must turn our attention to God and cry out to him for help. But suffering caused by physical weakness is not in itself a mortal wound especially if we say as our lord said that our enemy will find nothing of himself in us and if we say bravely with Saint Paul  that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our lord. Our suffering and our spiritual distress will never equal that of Saint Paul who had the fire of hell in his head when he said that he would love God always in spite of his continual persecution by the world, the flesh and devils acting together. It is enough that our hearts like his, among so many spiritual troubles, be free of all guilt and any consentment to evil.

                                                       7

    If there are two opinions in a religious community about the use of a sum of money, it is necessary to consult the will of God about which is the best. He has ordered us to communicate our divergences to those who lead his community in order not to do anything except what is in agreement with his church. The fathers of the church as well as the priests in holy scripture make this clear. It would be a fault to try to resolve the difficulty by yourselves. You are fortunate usually to have leaders who love your community more than themselves. You should join with them in your deliberations and not hide from them any secrets about either your temporal or spiritual life. They should take the time to consult with God with whom it is necessary that everything end up to be made clear and those in a community who have priestly qualities are  best able to make religious clarifications.  In fact, it is best for any business to have the advice of men of God and since you have men who are completely unselfish and overflowing with God’s love, you are obligated to follow their decision.
   It was by following the rules of such men that the first Christians reached a high level of holiness and we have only to consider them and imitate them to become good Christians. Religious communities flourish when joined to holy leaders. We should not learn any of the truths of the tradition of Jesus Christ only to reduce them when applying them to practical matters. If the priestly tradition appears so strong in David and among other Jews, it should appear even stronger among the Christians and the souls who are called to the state more than just perfect of the new law. Religious communities are shortened versions of God’s church itself where nothing happens except in common before God.

                                                        8

    When you travel, avoid young women and places where talk is at a low level. Read the gospel every day and pray for the souls of people you know who have died. Do not pay any attention to talk about the world or news of the day. Instead sleep or read a book about a devout life to converse with yourself. When you arrive at a hotel, go out at once and find some church somewhere where you can kneel down and bow to the Son of God. If you can not enter a church, kneel down at the door. When you are given a room, leave it if any girls enter it and do not ever spend any time with licentious men. Avoid them like girls by pretending you have somewhere to go and stay out in the street before dinner. But the best thing would be to keep yourself shut up in your room and to pray to God for an hour. Your travel can provide you with an excellent solitude  and God will give you his attention just as if you were at home. Get up early in the morning to do your regular prayers and readings. Do them in public if you can while kneeling for there is no better way to free yourself from the temptations of men and women than showing  yourself a servant of God. Nothing chases away the devil and his turmoil so greatly as your public protest that you belong to God and not to the world. Respond to the insolence of others by some religious exercise or by leaving their company or by being silent when you can not avoid them. God will suggest to you other ways to keep yourself aloof. The true servants of God are never without inventions to flee those who are not. If you travel to a location near your parents, dine with them as infrequently as you can and show them with great reserve the civility that you  owe them. It is impossible to defend yourself from them in any other way. The softness of kinship is too attractive and the devil does not have any stronger machine. Remember what Saint Luke wrote about it. If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  These words apply to all Christians. Follow the true path of penitence by abstaining from things that are not forbidden in punishment for not having abstained from things forbidden. You should practice penitence by not greeting any woman, even your sisters. Tell them that mourning is the cause of your unusual conduct which will be true of the mourning you carry in your heart for your own death as regards the world. Do not let them get away from you however without telling them that you do not love them any less because you act as you do and perhaps do them some little favor. Only the first meeting with them is difficult when you must be stiff with them since it serves as a rule for all the rest. Look for every occasion to satisfy God.  You only need a firm resolution which God will give you if you ask him for it. See if you have the strength to love him in little as well as in big matters. When you are firm on occasions that seem small they become great in God’s eyes because we have to overcome opposite natural inclinations and raise ourselves above the opinions of men who condemn our conduct. If we must flee men, start with your parents. It is a good means to free yourself from all other people who are not parents. Get whatever business you need to do done in a few days and the less you have to do the better. The people you deal with will try to gain power over you by amusing you. Be instead their master and do not let them dominate you. It is only necessary to spend a little time with them to recognize what lies at the bottom of their hearts.

                                                          9

    I write to you as a person whom the dead priest spoke about as another himself in his last letter which is the first he ever wrote me. I have been in prison for 4 years and dead to the world.  I am not permitted to write by the laws of this world so I should be excused if I behave towards my friends using only the new spirit and the new heart that the prophet Ezekiel writes about and that never dies. I did not write him back a letter but I wrote him in my heart where I hope I am also written in the hearts of the blessed. A letter sometimes prevents feelings from appearing but the love of the blessed, although they are invisible and without feelings, is marked with divine feelings. I speak to you as if he were still alive and I write to you answering what he wrote to me about you.  For I wish to always see him in your person and to give you the same services that I might have been able to give him. I always had a particular affection for him because of the proof I had of his virtue and his good sense. He was, in a time when good priests are rare, one of the best I knew. That makes me hope that he will be received among the company of the blessed. I would be delighted if I were able to give you the only services that the blessed consider of worth, those that lead to the salvation of souls and to the glory of the only one we should serve according to the language of the Son of God.

                                                       10

    I am writing you in secret as I write all my letters from my prison eluding observation by my guards. But I am writing this letter more anxious than usual because I want to be sure you know I read with pleasure your two letters. If you have your heart as strongly joined to mine as I feel mine joined to yours, you will be eternally with me as we are both eternally with God. Nor will your brother and your sister find anything of me just as do you which is not theirs. I will love them with the incomprehensible spirit that unites God the father with God the son and composes the indescribable knot of their love. I know your sister as if I had had her in my charge and I feel as certain of you, of her and of your brother as I would wish that someone be certain of me. I add to our union your father, if he wants it, who will find his part in this love without parts because if the spirit and the heart of the old man had some parts, that of the new man does not have any any more than god has any.
  Give Antoine Arnauld every evidence of a mutual love taking care that you do not make him feel some lack of it that he might without right impute to me. For you are the personal gift that I gave him which is the true image of the personal gift that God gave us in order to give us the means to serve him. As Saint Paul said, we should walk worthy of the lord pleasing to all.
 I had to speak to you in this first letter the language of God’s love that no one understands except someone who loves.

                                                    11

    I am very pleased that you visited the hermits at Port-Royal des Champs. They must have made you understand by their example that the entire Christian life consists in a retreat from the world and a scorn for everything in it that is visible.
    I believe it is superfluous for me to recommend to you respect and reserve towards Antoine Arnauld since the greatest and most uniform alliances and friendships are not maintained except in this way. Respect has two inseparable conditions, silence and readiness to do what one desires you to do.
    I neither need to tell you to never lose a moment of time throughout the day  either to attend to God or to yourself and to feel grief when in spite of yourself you are distracted. For the devil fills what God does not fill, there being neither emptiness in the operations of grace nor in the operations of nature.
    I want you to read every day with attention two chapters, one from the New and one from the Old Testament. Write every day as best you can in a notebook two or three sentences chosen from them in order to read them again from time to time and nourish yourself in this way with the word of God. It has the same power to strengthen us as receiving the body of the Son of God in communion which is but the main work of the word of God. That is rather unbelievable to those who have neither the knowledge nor the experience of this truth.

                                                         12

   When God created within me the will to give you to Antoine Arnauld, I meditated only about you and your salvation in order to make you reach it by the most noble and the most reliable paths that exist in the church, which are all interior and in the soul, where Saint John claimed he was tracing them when he used to cry out that he had come to prepare the paths to the Lord. But because I knew the difficulty of making it happen in young men who are already somewhat older and who have had instruction elsewhere both in their studies and in their practices of piety ( experiences about which I am well informed having passed through both), that held me back a great deal and I left your conduct to the care of the Holy Spirit and to the prudence of grace. I waited until after meetings which came about by chance with you or with him, I might feel myself obliged to tell you what I had in my heart for your true conduct outside of which I see clearly that whatever path you take, although beautiful in appearance and even covered with those flowers to which people compare the brilliance of exterior virtues, you will only make yourself go astray.
  I can not tell you how this meeting happened, but God knows that for more than a month it compels me to speak to you, and that I would not have been able to undertake it if God had not had a hand in compelling me to speak by movements that he usually gives to those who call to him and who do nothing without him.
  I could have perhaps still put off doing it without the letter that you joined to the one of Antoine Arnauld which determined me to speak to you in a few words since I am not able to do otherwise in this place where I am always watched and in danger of being surprised. The words you wrote make me judge that you wish to believe in me as in a man who has just made a great voyage that you are going to undertake. This gives me a great advantage over you that I am going to now use because it forces you to believe in me and to trust me as a faithful guide.
  You are aware also that those who instruct others as priests are images of Jesus Christ and that they have the right to demand as he faith, belief and trust from those that they wish to instruct and to lead. I assume you have these regarding me since your letters give me evidence that you do.
  I tell you therefore that there are two things that oppose our reaching the virtue that we are working for, first, natural inclinations, second, the habits and customs that we are already involved in. We are in an activity or we are negligent. We are angry or else we are sweet. We have a great desire for material goods or we are moderate and humane. Some have a natural indifference to everything while some are curious about everything. Some go about studies with discipline while some are vague, confused and variable. Some are full of passions and some have none. These are silent and those are always talking. There are those who judge nothing and those who judge everything. Some are worried about what they learn while for some what they learn is nothing having minds after studying something like blank slates.
  I have seen this diversity in people who have come within my purview. It would have astonished me if I had not known early in life the two main causes that give birth to it. What astonishes me more than it and about which I do not know so well the cause, is that in the present time there is in addition to the inclinations and customs of each individual, general customs which get by as being good although they are bad and are approved and practiced by those who can not be condemned without the one who makes the condemnation appearing to be in the public eye of unsound judgement.
   The fourth thing that opposes us reaching true virtue is science. I mean the kind of science that you aspire to which is for the most part philosophic. It is all about the reasoning that the apostle Paul calls the wisdom of the flesh and is the enemy of God and hostile and contrary to faith which is definitely not about reasoning as Saint Thomas Aquinas says at the beginning of his Summa. Philosophical reasoning gives birth to a number of new conclusions which do not relate at all to the ancient tradition which is the foundation for the Christian virtue of the church. For neither virtue nor the church for 1300  years had any use for philosophy or reasoning which continually cause wounds that are very dangerous and very difficult to cure in the spirit of those who devote themselves to them. This misfortune happens even among persons who appear wise and morally well regulated and is all the more dangerous in them than in others because their example authorizes among regular Christians both the opinions that they follow and their conduct in the general government of Christian consciousness.
  For what means is there to consider bad what Theology joined to eloquence, rectitude and custom authorizes and almost all the learned and people of goodwill follow together in practice? Even though it is often and in several respects important and necessary for the regulation of the soul, it is an obstacle to true Christian virtue.
  I would never have believed it if I had not learned it by much experience with those people whom I was directing and in whom I found these four obstacles. My friends who strongly love truth and kindheartedness and who have received many perfections both from nature and from grace know the truth of this my experience. What makes me more believable is that I have seen it in my religious community and in my family. I could not help observing these four obstacles in four kinds of different persons, some had only one, others two, others three and the rest the four obstacles together. Of these I observed some who because of a great desire to make their fortune at court by following after people possessing great powers, held in check for a period of twenty-five years three kinds of inclinations that would have caused their perdition in their youth from which time they lived up to this time as if they had opposite inclinations. The violence of their desire to make their fortune made them suppress the real tendency of their heart and it hid from them interior movements under exterior actions that were completely opposite.
  I observed others who professed to live under my direction as well as people I directed first before them. They gave a good example and displayed a good discipline in which they lived throughout twenty years up to the point of making themselves admired by both the good and the wicked for their exterior moral rectitude. I can even say that this quality was accompanied by internal rectitude having never in my opinion given their consent to anything that was clearly bad. And yet, although it seems unbelievable, I can say that the first people under my direction and the later, when one expected great fruits from their virtue, finally appeared to be very unregulated.This could only have happened because everything that seemed good in them for so long stemmed from something other than grace which was not rooted in their heart and had not undergone any increase in them with age among their good exterior exercises of discipline and virtue. For what must be noted clearly is that there is no exterior effect of discipline and virtue that may be produced by any other principle than grace. Without grace the soul can not have any real virtue. It must always happen that no matter how long may have been the disguise in youth, men who are not virtuous within, or who are not virtuous to a solid degree, appear in the end with the faults that they have hidden for so long. For God does in the new law among Christians what he did in the old law among the Jews. He creates certain things and certain temptations which reveal what they are when the hopes which supported some and the fears which held back others are no more and they enjoy a greater freedom which gives rise to passions and inclinations which had been for a long time repressed. As a result they fall into excesses which make them known to everyone as imperfect and vicious.
  An exception can happen among those whom in the long regulation of life in which they have lived, the pretenses they adopt, even the knowledge they possess of God’s truths, the example of several men who are generally believed to be men of goodwill, and the general practices of the time remove from their consciousness  their faults and their adjustments. This condition sometimes pushes them to rise up against those who have directed them for so long and believe themselves well qualified to no longer believe them. This would perhaps be tolerable if they did not go all the way to the extreme of condemning their directors either of falsity or of peculiarity in their life or in their teachings. It is so true that the knowledge and awareness even of Christian truth, either well or badly understood, can produce the same effects on us as the old law produced on the Jews which made them more guilty than they were before God instructed them through Moses.
  This makes evident that true virtue is very hidden and very interior even as God himself is. Virtue is only there where it is. Virtue really only resides there where virtue is and resides. That is why Scripture says that sin by suffocating virtue chaises even God from the soul where he was residing.
There is a third kind of person different from those I have spoken about. They do not have such faults. They have virtue but they hold it within themselves in a low position and block it from growing by yielding submissively to a single man who indeed does not have as much virtue as they nor as much knowledge of virtue. But because by arrangements of the world or by classification based on age or by some degree which puts him above and in a  rank superior to another, he involves himself almost unconsciously with this other person and subordinates his spirit to his own just as if a subordination should result from him. This happens more easily when the person who is established in authority has natural advantages caused by his spirit or by his human industriousness. For then someone who was already involved with him by other considerations, if he is just a little inclined by his nature to yield and is timid, he becomes completely submissive to the leadership and to all the opinions of the person to whom he was already submissive for so many reasons.
  This is why in a society of men living together, when the man who leads the others is fortified by such qualities and in addition is somewhat superior naturally and dominant, all those who live under his leadership take easily all his opinions and they rule their lives based on them. This is the misfortune that the Son of God warned us about in the gospel when he said that one blind man leads another blind man and both of them fall into the pit, that is, into hell. For by these blind men he means the most excellent persons among the Jews in knowledge and virtue. They gave themselves the names of rabbis or teachers having taken titles of authority to distinguish themselves from all others who made a profession of living well and leading souls.
  There is nothing in my opinion that does more harm to the first steps of a man with tendencies towards virtue and is stronger in preventing that it grow to its fullness. It is amazing if such an obstacle does not finally ruin a virtue that is just beginning, if it is true that someone who does not make his virtue grow diminishes it.
  This is why in scripture the wise man (in Ecclesiastes) who knew perfectly all the detours of the soul and the smaller obstacles to virtue, urges us to ask God with great insistence for a director who can lead us in spirit and truth. For in that lies the great interest of a man who wishes to become truly virtuous and avoid all the obstacles that  oppose him and that block the entrance to grace which is the seed of virtue and virtue itself.
  For Christian virtue to take root in ourselves and to remain steadfast, it is necessary that it have nothing encircling it as is shown in the tree by means of which Scripture paints for us virtue and its fruits. Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
   God, as I believe, by his inspiration has put you in my hands and by me into the hands of Antoine Arnauld, as to someone whom everyone considered being the most appropriate for you. My desire that you become an excellent Christian, in which alone resides divine virtue in its perfection, has caused me to make this digression in order to make you circumspect by the misfortune of those that I have seen almost perish before me in the middle of their youth and  before dying.
   Examine yourself about your inclinations. Everyone has his own. For it counts for nothing to examine particular actions if we do not make ourselves aware of roots restricting us that we have to take pains with first. If you are naturally animated, you have to work at becoming cool, offering to God the injuries that your primary nature has caused you. If you are free, work at restraining yourself. If you are too gloomy and too quiet, try hard to speak at the right time in the right place and a little more than others. On the other hand, if you feel an inclination to speak and to give your opinion freely about everything, as happens very easily to someone with a straightforward temperament, to a young man, to a keen disposition, to someone born into the upper classes, use the presence of these strains and this secret violence to help you dominate your speech and learn to be silent.
  Remember that the Son of God said that we will have to answer for the least idle word. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. It is not easy to imagine how far this idleness extends,  there being nothing except usefulness or honesty in speech which prevents it from being idle. This truth relates directly to faith and kindheartedness without which there is nothing according to our faith that is useful and honest.
  I find that the main warnings of Scripture concerning habits are are about controlling the tongue, an example would be the epistle of Saint James. If any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. But there are so many other examples that you could make a volume out of them. And I often admired why the Holy Spirit has taken so great care to repeat these warnings. I see the main reason for it Paradise where the tongue was the main cause for the fall of Eve and then Adam. It is easily believable as the cause if we know that all the moral instruction of Scripture has the purpose of ruining the capital sins which appeared in the fall of Adam and that the devil wanted to make come alive again by tempting Jesus Christ. By his admirable answers, he taught us to learn to keep this rule of Saint Paul: we speak before God in Christ.
  This warning is followed by another warning concerning another vice which, relating both to the eyes and to the tongue, depends more on the tongue than on the eyes.  Saint Augustine learned it from Scripture and calls it by the name of curiosity. He names it the second general root of concupiscence which extends to all things and which among those who make a profession of studying extends more to science and to the desire of knowing a great deal than to other objects which are without a clear shape and are more dangerous in appearance although their effects are less so.
  We have difficulty controlling the movements and the revolts of the flesh and we are unaware that the only way to control an inferior part is to keep in a good state a superior. For the natural disorder of man nourishes and maintains itself by the same causes that produced it. But faith teaches us that the disorder of our reason disordered our senses. Thus all our evil came from the head, by the two parts that dwell there, reason and the tongue. Whoever wishes to cure all the rest has only to put into good order his tongue and his reason, which he can do by preventing himself from being curious and a talker and someone always reasoning.
  There is no other rule more universal. It includes all the rest. It is the reason why Saint Augustine complains of being obligated because of his duties as a bishop to speak about the subject of God in a church. He does it so often that I put together once a notebook where were contained the complaints he made of not being able to be like Mary Magdalene who used to listen in silence to the word of God at the feet of Our Lord. One can find not a single word she said after her conversion except one at the death of her brother. Likewise one can not read either in the gospel any word either of Saint Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary, or of Mary herself after the mysterious rebuff she received at Cana.
  That caused this saintly doctor to say that there is not a greater interior humility, which is the source of all exterior humility, than to listen to others speak with joy.
  This made me desire, and I still have this passion, to be able to purge the faults that I committed even when speaking about God by a silence of nine months like Zachary. And if I might have been so happy to have found someone who would have given me early this warning about the tongue, I would have followed it as an oracle provided that I would have had then the sentiment I have now of truth and of the grace of God.
  What I did not do early in life I mean to repair by attaching myself with affection and kindheartedness to someone who, by the unity that charity causes between two persons, gives me the means by the reformation of his tongue to satisfy God and to give God the honor that I took from him by my failings. It is only that that impels me to speak about it in this way without knowing up to what point your virtue will go because of it. And I do not know either if God granted you a bias by his grace so that you avoided in your youth the excess that I complain about and that I committed by curiosity, by talking, by reasoning and by free judgment regarding truth and knowledge.
   I advise you to examine yourself closely about these main points which in truth come down to only one because intemperance of the tongue is inseparable from curiosity. You should feel good that I warned you about them so that you begin to bear witness to yourself because of my warning that I take care of you. You are the first among several persons that God gave me in my prison. I cannot abandon any of them without  being resistant to his orders.
  I will listen to everyone in order to improve myself by whatever is good in each of them and take note of it for my edification. Then when I have the time, I will write down in a book whatever anyone writes that nourishes my heart which nourishes itself only with divine truths. For all of pagan philosophy should be kept at the same rank as the law of the Old Testament which Saint Paul calls dung if it does not help us become better and promote our salvation.
  I confess that you will find few of these kinds of persons who can nourish you in this way with their speech. As soon as you have a plan to live in the way I have prescribed for you, withdraw little by little from dealings with men. You will find that all men are like one man and one man like all when they have tendencies neither to usefulness nor to kindheartedness, that is, towards the acquisition of the virtue that Jesus Christ desired that we learn by his incarnation. If I could somehow express to you the experience I have of it, there would be necessary only it alone to persuade you that I speak the truth and that you must believe me and live as I say in order to be happy in this world and in the other. For we live in a time when virtue and knowledge have been reduced to a miserable state, a state very different from the one they had in the first century. In our time men have made the error of separating one from the other and they content themselves with being virtuous without knowledge or being wise without virtue. As a result they turn Christian knowledge into a pagan knowledge. Saint Augustine called pagan knowledge the knowledge and the awareness of devils. He used the same expression to characterize the faith of those who believe in God without loving him and who know the truths of God without practicing them.
  God has given you a special grace by lodging you where you are. You can find there whatever you may desire to seek elsewhere for your instruction about knowledge and habits. An example in your household should alone keep you humble and far from cupidity in relation to everything. These two perfections are rare in an educated man of our time and they are much more rare in churchmen than in others.
  For you will have no need of any fellowship beyond that with the person to whom God has joined you and to whom he has submitted you in respect to everything. When you will become dominant over your reasoning and your tongue, which are the two elements that dominate in the head, you will cut the root leading to reasonings and curiosities and to superfluous talk. This practice is the foundation for all the other mortifications since it is true that all the disorders interior and exterior of the flesh and of our lower nature take birth in our head. It takes only a little care to keep under control the two main powers there that dominate. All the evil in our first parents came from the reasoning and the talk that they had with the ancient serpent. The evil maintains itself in the same way in us.
  From this kind of separation and mortification comes the love of silence which is not only rest, as says Saint Ambrose, but the height and the perfection of all virtues. If you add to it occupying yourself with continual prayer, the only thing left for you is to desire and long for the grace of God by means of these exercises. But notice well that they are useless and even harmful to those who do them without it because then they are without the force to attract to themselves the grace of God who is alone the cause of all the virtue that we can have.

                                                         13

    The plans of your father to make you a priest make me understand once again that civil wars are worse than foreign wars, domestic wars worse than civil wars, and among domestic wars those that derive from persons the closest to us are greater than the others. For wars and persecutions increase in intensity according to the degree of nearness that those persons have with us who persecute us. But I find nothing strange in the difficulty you are having with your father since the Son of God predicted it, and especially with fathers whom he named in more than five places speaking about family members. Matthew writes, And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. Mark and Luke say the same thing using almost the same language.
    You should live simply as a religious person withdrawn from regular dealings with men as much as possible. You have visited Port-Royal des Champs in the countryside near Paris and you have seen how men live there as religious hermits. They are not monks or friars and certainly not priests. They are simply religious men who have cut themselves off from the world and live only for God. You must resist your father since he wants to force you to become a priest. The life of a priest is naturally much more involved in human affairs than the life of a religious person. Your life should be the life of penitence that everyone is obliged to lead by the vows of the Christian religion. He will be complaining continually if you persist in wishing to live like a true Christian. Support your father as much as is possible and do the best you can so that he does not become bitter but even the least principle of Christianity forbids that you obey him.

                                                         14

    I am pleased that you opened your heart to me in your letter so frankly. It lets me know what is within you that can help me a great deal in giving you advice that you need to conduct yourself well. I wish to imitate your frankness by opening my heart to you although there is this difference between you and me that I am old and you young. Even if you have all the ordinary advantages of  nature and grace that a man of your age can have, you cannot pretend to have double the experience of the business of the world or of the church that someone like I acquires by living a long time. Enlightenment can anticipate advanced age but no man of no matter what natural excellence, of no matter what knowledge or of no matter what degree of grace can anticipate the enlightenment born of experience of someone who has lived long and had a hand directly in the  business of the world or of the church or of the two of them together. Without this type of enlightenment it is impossible to give good advice to another although it is possible that someone of your age may conduct themselves well towards the salvation of their soul by a particular grace granted by God.
    I hope and pray that God will never abandon you to passions with bad ends. It would be very difficult for me to free you from them. In your letter it appears that you have great warmth towards your sister whom it is permissible that you love. But that does not prevent me from saying that your affection for her you speak about is a sin not only against the gospel and regular theology but even against your baptism where you gave up love for all the attractive things of the world and especially for love of family members which is the most attractive and the most dangerous of all if it is not controlled by the prudence of God and his grace. Grace is nothing more than the love and charity we owe God to the detriment of all our inclinations.
    When God caused me to set my eyes upon you, he gave me a strong will to contribute to the advancement of your salvation by showing you the path you must follow of true charity without which no one reaches salvation. Think of charity as not a human kindheartedness but as a  kindheartedness, or better still a lovingkindness, that comes to our hearts from God. If I did not succeed in making you experience this true charity, It would be for me just as if I had done nothing if I would have given you all the property in the world. I beg you to believe that the plan I have for you I also have for your sister. You commit a kind of faithlessness towards me if you believe your sister is closer to you than to me. Just the opposite is true since I can say that she belongs more to me than to you if you are willing to follow the rules of the gospel which are the same for both of us. They teach us that since we have the advantage by the grace of baptism of being children of God, we ought to count for nothing all natural relationships. After I chose you, I chose your sister  in order to make her religious and I love her as I love you for her eternal salvation. But I know that what follows after God selects us to receive his charity depends on God and I always wait with trembling and fear what he will be pleased to give in the future. For we bring about our salvation and that of those nearest us in a humble manner that is completely dependent on the will of God. The greatest displeasure that I have about your passions is that they are so strong and so human in the matters of God as men of the world are accustomed to have passions in their matters. For loving you as I love you, that is, more than as if you were my brother or father or mother, and knowing that God has given you inclinations towards good, it troubles me greatly to see them darkened and obscured by these clouds of passion that you must get rid of to arrive at a great charity. This great divine lovingkindness is the only thing I want for you and without it all the love we have for family members is only a sin.

                                                      15

    Mother Agnes, I received your letter as if coming from the gates of Paradise and I hope that God will have kept you still alive in order to receive my answer. The peaceful manner with which you wrote it made me see the main difference that there is between you and me which you will know better when you are with God. Even with the sorrow I feel because your condition has you near death, since you write in your letter that I have more in common with the dead than the living, I feel joy because of the foreknowledge your words give me of the grace God will grant me by your prayers when you will be with him. Reading today in the gospel, I came upon the chapter about Lazarus which made you even more present in my spirit so I decided to use some words spoken there as though they were spoken about you. It seemed to me I said to God these words, “Lord, the one you love is sick”. He answered me, “This sickness is not for death but for the glory of God”. Whatever happens to you, it seems to me that this answer will turn out to be true. I also stopped and focused on this other answer that Jesus Christ gives there when his apostles wish to turn him away from going to Jerusalem by making him fear death. “If someone walks while it is light he does not collide with anything because he sees the light of the world. If someone walks during the night he does collide because he has no light". The light of the day was Christ who was like a sun and a light for the apostles who walked with him and his light must have removed from them all fear of death. Those who have received this light in their hearts like you, have still more reason than the apostles to believe in the words of our lord. Say to him as did David, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.
    I read in the gospel this answer of Saint Thomas to the words of Jesus who was encouraging his apostles to go with him to Jerusalem, Let's go also with him that we may die with him. Let’s go also ourselves away to Jerusalem and die with him. Those are words that have always been a consolation to me and I would like to be able to say them to Christ when I will be in the condition you are in. They were pleasing to him since we can believe that they were very likely to have had the result that Saint Thomas deserved all the grace that he received afterwards.
    I read also about the active charity of Martha and the serene charity of Mary Magdalene which made me recognize that it was apparently she, Mary, who dictated the letter that they both sent to Jesus.  For it seems to me that the words in it could have originated only from a heart peaceful and completely united with Jesus Christ, a heart that asked nothing from him but only put forward for consideration the sickness of someone he loved.  I would not like to propose to God for you anything else. The words that one and the other sister say to Jesus when he arrived make, it seems to me, clear enough what I say, that the words of this letter and that prayer came only from Mary and not from Martha. For Mary asks him for nothing and is content to say that if he had been present her brother would not have died. On the other hand, Martha reveals her desire that her brother revive. Thus one hurries to go ahead and the other does not advance at all until Jesus calls her. Then she hurries as her sister had hurried previously before Jesus Christ had called her. You would do well to imitate the peaceful charity of Mary Magdalene and to wait in the state where you are for Jesus to call you to go to him.
 There is not at all any piety greater for a sick person than to be at peace in bed. You made it clear to me by your letter that such is your piety. It is mine also and it includes the prayers I offer to God for you finding it a great consolation to be able to tell him that a person that he loves is extremely sick. He will do for you what he did for Lazarus either reviving you for this life or for the other according to what he will judge most consistent with our needs and his eternal designs.

                                                         16

    Mother Agnes, you are always present in my spirit and I can not return within myself without finding you there. I have not received news from Paris yesterday or today and I take that as a good sign for us. For you you do not need any news at all since you live doing only the will of God and awaiting the coming of Jesus Christ which make up  the complete piety of a Christian. Saint Paul said that God shall also confirm you unto the end that ye may be blameless to the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep your piety joined in silence with your peaceful acceptance of the evil that you suffer. I do not desire any other piety when it will please God to reduce me to the state where you are now. The greatest humility in life seems to me to conclude it and finish it waiting for God with silence and patience. I would add also with obedience to those who have taken responsibility for the care of our body and soul. We will inherit that from you if God loves you more for heaven than for earth and more for himself than for us.
    I have been consoled by the observations that Monsieur Singlin gave me about your condition. I thank God that he continues to favor you by giving you this secret grace that he brings about in you that will never die if you go to live with God but preserves itself in the souls of those on earth who see him and feel him. I feel that he has already brought about something in my soul, which has no greater passion than to live and die in Christian charity. Everything in my religious experience confirms this piety in which God has placed you and it is the only condition I desire for myself at this last time of life. How admirable is the devotion of a soul who lives waiting continually for the voice and the commandment of God and even finds himself full of joy because of the plan he has to obey the voice of God even before he knows what it will be. The good servant of God is one who obeys with joy the voice of God after it resonates in the ears of his soul. But the one that Saint John calls the friend of the bridegroom does more for he feels an unspeakable joy while waiting for this voice.

                                                       17

    Agnes, I do not know  what condition you are in but I dare say that I hope for an equal consolation from either of two possibilities although one is sensible to our human feelings and everyone can share in it as well as myself. The other belongs only to those who love you with the charity of God which leads to an even more grand consolation. If my life was not already committed to God through my sins (he knows each of them), through his mysteries and particularly the mystery of his Passion, through each of the marvelous things he brought about during my life for the good of his church, through each of the favors he granted me (I merited them merely by inwardly dying for him), through each of those persons that I loved for him as the result of his charity and that I often gave to him spiritually in order to conserve them, if my life, I say, was not committed to him in so many ways and if I did not wish to remain grateful to him for the life he gave me, I would willingly offer it to him so that he might preserve you still for the visible government of the Abbey of Port-Royal.
    Against my expectation, God gave me the grace today to carry the pall in the procession of the Holy Sacrament. Since I was thinking I would not be able to do it because of my weakness, I beg you in your weakness to thank God for giving me the strength to do it in the way the sick can do it, which is by suffering more cheerfully their evil through love of God after hearing what those treating their sickness told them about it.  I hope I will have been heard in the prayers I made to him giving me assurance that he will hear those that you will make to him for me, if he wishes that you be with him rather than with us. There are few people to whom I would have spoken with this assurance considering the condition you are in. But  I say it with such certainty that even if I had not had the feeling of the lovingkindness of charity that I have towards you I might have been driven by longing to say it anyway. All your prayers should be in the expectation not only of the coming of Jesus Christ, for that is the main prayer of all Christians, but also of the appearance of his holy will. In it I wish to join myself with you in order to take part in that great vow that includes all the others and is the first demand that he wanted us to make to him for ourselves. Other than that, I can only speak humanly of your sickness as a man who seeks your health. It is past two o’clock. I am back from church and in such great joy for having been able to carry the pall that my joy alone can moderate the grief I feel in the bottom of my soul that you are perhaps going to God.


                                                      18

    Mother Agnes, I was delighted to receive your letter which confirmed the news of your convalescence. As greatly as God forbids us to desire anything from the world and from anything that belongs to time, he just as greatly wishes that we rejoice at the recovery of health of those who belong to him. For these we can rejoice and our joy is truly an action of God’s charity by means of which alone we love them. You must take care of yourself better in the future since God wishes that you continue to serve him at his Abbey of Port-Royal and has established you there to direct it as someone sent back to it from the gates of the other world. You can speak to him as did David, thou liftest me up from the gates of death that I may show forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion. You must now make a transition from one virtue to a second. You can not be the primary example in your religious community of the mortification of the body as you were when sick. You now must be to others a spiritual example, a very difficult and praiseworthy quality that really belongs only to superior souls and is truly  a reward for the other virtue of mortification. Those like you who have come back from so far and whom God has given the grace to edify a religious community by facing death so peacefully are exempt from many things to which they are not disposed by their frailty. That is why you will take care of yourself better. You will make a great practice of humility and together with it you will be full of mercy towards members of your community who need you. In exchange for this spirituality, rule yourself within and give yourself to silence, to patience, to prayers from your heart that come from desires, moans and separation from those outside of you. These are penitences that God demands from you because your weakness projects you beyond your actual age to the discipline of those whom old age exempts from many things. There is what I believed I had to tell you in the state of weakness that I now find myself which teaches me by the experience it gives me of the way the weak should conduct themselves.
  I recognize in your deceased sister whom you mention everything you said about her. The inclination I had towards her prevented me from giving her evidence of it because I saw that she was too affectionate towards me in her feelings because of the grace God had given her by means of me. I believe not responding to her was greatly useful to her to purge her soul of all her faults. I do not doubt at all that God was merciful to her by satisfying the things she hungered and thirsted for by leading her to the divine sources of truth and charity. Some leave this world earlier, others later, but the death that ends their life is equally for all the beginning of their eternity. Happy those who have passed a part of life like she with an experience of the truth and the grace that God gave them. I know how rare it is to find such souls and in this time they are almost not found at all. I would regret it more if I did not know that God rules everything and that life is his, if I must so speak, more than every other thing. He dominates the length and shortness of our ages as the only master of time, which he has reserved for himself alone and that he has not put into the hand of any creature of the earth to govern. Even though I am not perhaps ready to appear soon before him, I offer him nonetheless my life at every hour and I would not be surprised at whatever way it might please him to take it from me. I have absolutely no greater respect to pay him than to agree to it. I will not stop praying for your deceased sister for all my life as I desire that those who love me pray for me for all of their life.

                                                      19

    Mother Agnes, the meetings I have had one after the other prevented me from expressing to you as greatly as I would have desired the joy I felt because of your convalescence. I was expecting it from God for several reasons, but particularly at this time to console me, not for the continuation of my life in prison which is for me a good thing, but because it pleased him to accomplish his gospel by leaving you still in this world and taking in your place our sister. He has given her no doubt his paradise whether he may be still purifying her or has accomplished her purification. The beautiful and saintly words she said while dying (She said with a cross in her hands, “May I never glory in anything except in the cross of our lord and savior Jesus Christ in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, by whom we have been saved and freed.” ) were able, in my opinion, to be a substitute for purgatory if they are considered together with the good life she led after God had completely converted her to himself. It is the condition of men of the world that we must pity when they are not thoughtful of God as you and she. They are truly dead souls in living bodies instead of being like those who die in God. Saint John says, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Such remain living not only in their souls but even in some measure in their bodies and in a way which approaches that according to which the Body of the Son of God was living in the tomb by the union hypostatic that he had with the divinity. For you know that the dead bodies of such souls are still the temple of the Holy Spirit in the tomb. According to the fathers of the church, even Jesus Christ lives there by virtue of his Body which stays sown in them, so to speak, in an earth that belongs to him. From the earth one day he will form a better body than the Adam he created from clay, a body that will be more glorious and more immortal than was that of Adam. Do not forget, my mother, to give thanks to God with us for such great mercy even though you are now withdrawn in your religious community. For it is not the location that saves, as Saint Bernard said, since the first angel did not save himself in heaven, the first man in paradise, nor Judas in the house of the Savior. Our joy at your recovery can serve as a consolation to our sorrow at the death of our sister, which I am wrong to describe with this word if it is true, which I do not doubt at all, that the temporary death of the body has been the cause of the eternal salvation of a soul and that this same body has been consecrated in eternal glory in its tomb. I beg all those to whom I can write to take part in this common consolation which should be yours since it is mine and since it has pleased God to give us a sensible consolation in the hope that it gives us of your perfect cure. I will not fear praying for it since it has pleased him to involve me by the extraordinary grace he has made to the Abbey of Port-Royal Des Champs which had more need than you of the continuation of your life.

                                                          20

    My mother, the two main objects of my love on earth are the will of God and the Body of the Son of God. I have kept them in mind and loved the one and the other during your sickness. If I have spoken to you with a certain degree of affection, I dare not say of charity, I did it only because I have always considered you in the Body of Jesus Christ whom I love as belonging to him. In his Body I looked upon you as my mother and my sister following the words of Matthew who writes, For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother. It is as if you enclose in yourself alone all the particular degrees of a kinship entering the church by a divine generation. And if you had been lower in this divine order of grace, I would have loved you less and I would have felt less the sadness and the joy that your sickness and your cure gave me. By the knowledge that God gave me by his mercy and and by the feelings in my heart, I am very far from the opinion of those who believe that charity is without feeling and indifferent and that it is exempt from all passions, instead of that passions that are met with outside of grace belong to grace. God would never have given them to man if he had not created him in order to make man able to love by his divine power. But I confess that one cannot use these divine passions in relation to men except in the union they have with Jesus Christ and as being members of his Body. Those who do not belong to him, we should love only in the hope that they will belong to him by the great mercy God can show them by bringing them to Christ by a true conversion. This is what makes my love more enhanced for those stable and firm souls who love Christ and are loved by him in the union that they have with him. Their rarity makes them more worthy in my eyes and has as a result that I find almost no one at all in the degree of charity that Saint Paul speaks of when he asks, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? I embrace easily those who live in this disposition. I assure you that there are those of them that I do not know at all by sight and who do not know me at all and that I do not love less than those like you whom I have seen. This makes me realize rather well that I have not written anything for you that does not leave behind even more in my heart and in order to know how true this is you must take what I write not as something someone can just write about but as something someone can feel.
  Four years ago when I was first confined to this place I went through a terrible spiritual ordeal. God tested me extremely but he gave me the grace to accept my condition here. Only God and I know the obligation I have to die to the world to give witness to what I owe to such great grace. My prison takes the place for me of a great proof of divinity and I do not take any heed, except sometimes fleetingly, of men opposed to truth and charity, virtues that I argued were fundamental to Christianity and as a result was sent to prison. In the epistles of Saint John he joins together truth and charity. In his second epistle, he speaks only of truth and charity and in the third epistle, he repeats more than four or five times truth and charity. The Son of God has taught us  as virtues poverty and penitence. He gave primacy to poverty in his sermon on the mount and to penitence in his preaching. Naturally at your abbey your virtues are poverty and penitence but I would hope you add truth and virtue to give the four virtues uniformity, Poverty, Truth, Charity, Penitence. Otherwise it is like the stones in the arches of churches which are not well unified with one another.

                                                        21

    My mother, I know what evils you have endured. I have commiserated with them otherwise than by words in the extreme feebleness that I endure still and that has reminded me more than once of the other world. We are very fortunate to belong to Jesus Christ and to participate in his sufferings but my great weakness is nothing like your state which is painful. God gives you sufferings consistent with the interior strengths he had already given you but your sufferings are in truth other than mine which are both from weakness of the body and of the soul. I thank him with all my heart for everything he has given to others more than to me, and particularly to you, because It seems to me that I would not love you at all with the charity I hope for if I did not love a little more your advancement than mine. I believe I understand the level that you have reached and I know that I have certainly not reached it. When I remind myself that  all the good things of the soul have the goodness of God as their source, I love just as much that this source spread over the souls of others as over mine. I think only that by giving back to him my love I give him the honor and the reverence I owe him without thinking of myself or thinking that what I receive from him is less than others. I am only too happy that I belong to God by the least degree of his grace.

                                                         22

    My Mother, I learned the state of your health and I know the difficulty you have without the strength you had before. Only those who have experienced infirmities can judge them. If you believe me, you will let yourself be treated as someone infirm and in your frailty you will not attach yourself so strongly to exterior works of piety. It seems to me that there is not any man who has more inclination than I to all the works of religion. There are none of them that I would not have wished to do and yet, although I hear three masses Sundays when I can, I was not at all troubled when my infirmities forced me to spend several Sundays without hearing any.
  I have said that there is not any firm reason and necessity to join exterior and interior piety and I plan to write my ideas about the subject when God will give me the grace to do it. But meanwhile for the present nothing ought to prevent us from supporting with patience being deprived of the exterior exercise of piety. When God deprives us  of it, we should bear witness as a result that we are attached only to his spirit. Surely we are obliged to believe according to the gospel that the church on earth is the kingdom of God. As a result it is necessary to believe that it happens occasionally that believers are blessed and that God sometimes exempts them from all other duties except those of his love. If our infirmities reach the point that we be exempt from reading and vocal prayer, the love within us will be all the more pure and heavenly since it will be joined with the prayer that comes out of silence which is closer to prayer in heaven which consists only in a pure praising.
  Having recovered your health against all hope, you must take care of it better than before as a new gift from God. He could not involve you better in taking care of it than by showing that he wishes that you live still for the good of his abbey. Your life in the future will be only as a good example when you should do nothing else than live and change the actions of penitence into those of interior virtues which gleam into the eyes of God and are the real fruits of penitence. When fruits begin to appear on trees, we do not take any longer the trouble to cultivate, prune and fertilize them, which are  three things that mark the works of penitence.  Then God alone takes care of trees to conserve and mature the fruits on them by his warmth and by the secret influences of his sun which is Jesus Christ. It is to him that you should unite yourself more closely than before by exercises that are entirely interior by considering him more in his glory than in his cross. You will find in him the same virtues to imitate and the same example of subjugation that he gave to his Father while he lived with us but in him more perfect and more excellent and in their ultimate perfection. It is the image of this fidelity that he wishes that you hold yourself to in the future. He will furnish you beyond fasting and other stern practices that your body can no longer support the means to honor him more perfectly. I beg you to act in this way and to bear in mind that a body reduced in strength is similar to a body used up by old age. It is imprudent and indiscreet to demand from it  the same exercises of virtue as when it was young. If I had a Superior over me as you have now a Superior over you, I would take pains to obey only him. I am experiencing here in prison the disadvantage there is in not having anything like that which  sometimes makes it difficult to know what I should do to do my best. I ask for your prayers here on earth as I would ask them from you if you had gone to heaven.

                                                          23

    My mother, it is no great trouble writing you. I take pleasure writing since my words are my feelings. That is why I forget what I write you because not drawing it from my memory and doing it quickly nothing remains except what is in my heart which fills itself up as it expands. That is a clear sign that it is charity alone, God’s lovingkindness within me, that makes me write what I write, to which alone belongs an inexhaustible abundance. God’s love can always give itself to us. It does not take any special care to restrain what it gives and so it forgets itself in the very act of giving itself.
  That is the way I believe I should answer what I just read in your letter. Your humility makes you write that you are astonished at the way I speak to you. I assure you in good conscience that I do not remember at all what I write to you and that confirms what I just said, that I draw my words from the truth that lives in my heart and also that I forget it after having written it. For what we write from the heart is not always printed in our spirit or in our memory.
  But it is not enough to tell you that what I wrote you during your sickness came from the sincerity of my heart. It is necessary to add to it abundance. Abundance always goes with sincerity but sincerity is not always a part of abundance. As far as I know myself and I am aware of what I feel, everything I have authorized you to do has come from the superabundance of my heart.  God has given me the grace that makes me see  by our relationship that there is not at all any other nearness and relationship in the church of God when we do God’s will than that of a sister or a brother, as Matthew writes, of Jesus Christ.

                                                        24

    Mother Superior, I am writing you the evening before my departure for a journey to the abbey of Saint-Cyran and only to accompany your writings which I am sending you back after having reviewed them. There is nothing that diverts more these days the best religious people than flashes from great truths which should only be directions guiding us in the exercise of charity and setting it on fire within us. For if we do not receive the truth of the gospel in a heart full of the love of God, it is no longer anything more than a philosophical truth which the devil devises much better than we.
  Charity must produce the truth in us and it should be born from charity like light from heat instead of as in nature where the light of the sun comes before its heat.
  Live by faith, that is, by the divine lovingkindness of charity, and you will arrive by this path easily at the intelligence of all the truths of faith that you need in this life. The whole life of a Christian should be used to purge the heart of passions and imperfections to make possible knowing and seeing God, in which lies our happiness in the other world whereas in this world it lies in good works and the practice of virtue.

                                                           25

    You know that I love nothing as much as being involved closely with God and having always a continual will to follow him. I do it willingly even on the least occasions when he makes his will come to life in me. He knows that I have you in my heart, abbess, and that I persuade myself easily that it is he who put you there. I am not only inclined to bear witness to it by letters, which contain only words, but by all kinds of works that are agreeable to him which come from a number of works that the Holy Spirit wishes that we accomplish in time.  That is all I wish to say to you now setting aside many more other possible words that I will not speak to you because the least affections which take birth from the charity of God are as ineffable as he. Everything else whether it would be miracles or a free and abundant sacrifice of our body or of our wealth are counted for nothing by Saint Paul who assures us that we can give the whole world as alms for God and sacrifice for him our life like the martyrs and deceive ourselves. For it is only the interior movement of the spirit of God which makes our exterior works good. This obliges us to practice a marvelous discretion in all our enterprises to block an activity of our heart which often makes us do what God does not find good although it appears so to men.

                                                        26

     I am content to look to God in the situation you write about and to adore him as the author of life and death. For there is nothing we should think about more than our continual dependence as Christians on grace from God, which does not allow us to do anything without looking to him and letting our conduct be guided by him. Everything is his work and he rules more over sickness, if I can so speak, than health because the sick are closer to the judgement he must make on us when we appear before him, either favorable or terrible according as we will  have deserved it. I do not dare to tell you how greatly the way we serve him now is so little worthy of him. He is completely invisible and hidden and our devotion to him is completely visible and exterior where we establish the ruling principle of our piety. Yet he tells us himself several times in his gospel that he demands from us only a good will. Happy the soul that has it for it carries the Kingdom of God with it. Such a soul becomes a sacrament as marvelous as the eucharist and perhaps even more when it contains the same Jesus Christ enclosed by a more excellent veil. That is a consolation to me in the affliction I feel to see the soul of the sick religious woman you write about approach her judgement. Either the Scriptures are false or else God’s judgement must be dreadful for everyone living. The aids that have been given to her from the treasures of the church will serve her in proportion to the care she took before her sickness to think about her judgement. For a Christian life should be like an admirable chain of good actions which suppose that the last hour of days of sickness should be connected to the hours of good actions during our days of health, without which they are hours spent uselessly  no matter what appearance they may have of goodness.

                                                       27

    It is an admirable thing to observe the gentleness with which our savior Jesus Christ behaved towards his imperfect apostles. He spoke to them and supported them with their faults and even in the case of Judas, the son of perdition, speaking to him still with charity at the very time even when he was completing his crimes by the most horrible one by delivering up his master to the Jews. All the saints imitated Jesus by yielding with compassion and humility to the desires of their disciples although they saw them as useless. When we speak to a soul with faults and imperfections in a spirit of humility and charity, although we are  not of any help for it, we are of great help to ourselves and will receive perhaps from the goodness of God grace for our patient effort dealing with a troubled soul who needs the penitence we experience talking to it but has none. We need to pray to God because to behave well in such circumstances we have great need of him.

                                                        28

     Mother Marie des Anges, I have a great deal of trouble telling you how it happened that I put off writing you for so long since my return. For although it is true that I had always been hindered by not having an hour to myself, that however does not seem to me able to provide a sufficient reason that will satisfy you. I should tell you that there was not a day when I did not wish to do it and that you were not also present in my spirit along with everything else that God wanted to be among my affections. But I believe that it pleased him by this long delay to give me proof that I love you by his charity since he took away from me any hurry to write this letter that I owed you after my return. Thus the delay I went through is far from being a sign of my forgetfulness because it serves as a proof that, not having any fierce passion in the permanent memory I have of you, I am able to be certain that the Saints find my affection for you agreable since it is tranquil and strong like theirs. This that I am telling you about my affection is more truthful in the feelings of my heart than in the expression of my words. I believe I should tell you it once and for all so that it gives you a sure way to interpret all the silences that I may use towards you in the future.  I will tell you just one thing regarding the communion that you wish to limit to taking on Sundays. When you are more inclined to communion Sundays than the other days when you do not take it, you should not take it on those days. And when you are inclined well enough on the following days preceding Sunday, you can go to communion like on Sunday as long as the spirit of God does not draw you away from it.

                                                       29

    Mother Marie des Anges, I dare to tell you that if God does not breathe in the soul, everything we toss into our souls is useless and perhaps harmful. For in spiritual matters, it is easier to be lax about virtue than to progress towards it. If we do not take advantage of the spiritual food that we receive, it results necessarily that we become more wicked. In bodily sickness, when the sick have not well digested the food they have eaten, they have to be purged with bitter medicines and be forced to follow a long diet. Thus God makes us see visibly in the way we treat weak bodies the way we ought to act towards souls. Because they do not recognize their sickness, they want to eat as if they were healthy. There is however this difference which results only in deceiving us, the fact that we know very well when bodies are sick and we do not know when souls are. There are ten thousands of disguises that cover souls and they always have the power to perform the same external practices whether they are sick or healthy. This condition is worthy of being cried over and I do not see that there should be any charity greater than that given to persons worthy of crying over it.

                                                      30

    Mother Marie des Anges, I have always had you within me spiritually during the five years I was in prison and you would not have all the knowledge of me that I desire that you have if you had the slightest thought that I might have been capable of forgetting you. The bonds of our friendship based entirely on charity are your virtue and your solid piety and it is impossible that I separate myself from you any more than from God who is inseparable from Christian virtue. For virtue is nothing except the first ray from God joined to himself which by a remarkable infusion gives us his Spirit with his charity. His charity alone, his divine lovingkindness alone, is along with him our virtue. That is what God inspired me to tell you along with the news of my freedom.,

                                                        31

    My Reverend Mother, I ask your pardon for the delay I took in answering you. It was the result of different reasons which all exempt me from any blame with respect to a good religious woman such as yourself because they originated all from the occupation where God has placed me. And you do not wish that I fail God when, because of the order that his charity has prescribed for us, he wishes that I forget you superficially for a time.  In fact, that did not happen since I had you as present in me together with the Spirit of God as if I had  given some more obvious proof of your relationship with God before men. This is how God makes me know by my own experience and by my ways of acting that those he deals with in the most obvious manner and with visible signs of his benevolence are not those he loves the most. For several religious women to whom I wrote after receiving your letter are not more in my memory than you although it may seem that I forgot you.
   This comparison should be enough to assure you that I estimate you among the Elect of God and that it will never be by negligence nor by forgetfulness that I will miss giving you what I owe you by my letters. I greatly distinguish writing them from other duties which consist in services and actions of charity that are more solid. For those kinds of things, I make a profession of bringing to them all the diligence of mine that is possible and to never put off until tomorrow what I can do today.  This means that you can certainly also employ my diligence to whatever end you will judge to be within my power since I am always ready to serve you with the same spirit that I serve God.
   If you are his as his chosen are his and if you have looked to him in the course of time with respect and tried to imitate the eternal love he has for his elect, you are protected from all the apprehensions that natural weakness can give to the strongest in the condition that you find yourself. For the surprise of sickness or death should not be dreadful except for those who do not have anything to do with the eternal attention of God. Everything should be indifferent to you since you were chosen by God, you profess  being a Christian, and you are a religious woman living in a Christian community. These are incomparable favors that God has shown you which he has not shown to three quarters of humanity who are without faith. Neither has he shown it to a great number of souls who live in the church a life that is completely pagan hidden under the veil and name of Christianity. You must never lose the remembrance of these great graces since they stand for the pledges of love that God has granted you eternally.
   There are on earth creatures afflicted by the memory of their offenses who would be willing to die a hundred times to give to God some evidence equivalent to the grief they feel from not having served him with the purity that they owed him. They consider happy the souls who do not have similar deep regrets which are the spiritual sufferings that the need for charity causes penitents and are as unknown as sin even to those who have lived in innocence.
   Rest humbly on this grace that God has given you and for everything else just let it happen. The very favorable treatment he has shown you in the past should give you confidence for the future.
  I wish to warn you about one thing by answering the last point of your letter. To preserve these favors from God and to keep yourself always well prepared for death, you should not have any care for the way men treat you nor for the opposition the enemy instigates against the advancement of your good plans.
  I know that it is the secret passion of all Superiors that the community where they are sent grows visibly in piety and that those who have chosen them for this employment may know that God has blessed their choice and that they see its fruits. But it is enough for me that you have acquired new charity in the judgement of God in the exercise of your responsibilities. Say only with me that while God lives a soul that is his can not become unhappy.

                                                        32

    My Reverend Mother, before I received news from you a few days ago, I had found out about your sickness together with your convalescence. I rejoiced greatly through the spirit that causes me to have a part in all the things which concern the glory of our Master. Among these things I include your health because it seems to me that at the bottom of your soul you are his.  It is this part that takes the place in you of  God’s divine heaven. You serve him by a great variety of good works which are born always from this source.
   I noticed in your letter the arrangement this kind of sickness forces on you for your life in the future. It is the same arrangement that forces me to receive the Body of the Son of God by a viaticum. If we consider the time of holy communion’s institution, we are obliged to take it following the example of the Son of God who took it the evening before his Passion.
   I would like, my Mother, that time would permit me to tell you what a favor God has done for a person giving her back her health provided that she will continue to think about her prior sickness. But as soon as I started into this discourse, the period of time when I was involved in it prevented the determination I had to write you more amply and made me lay down my pen. I beg you to believe that God has given me a complete affection for your service to him and that I am at your disposition as someone who is your very humble and very obedient servant.

                                                          33

    My Reverend Mother, I was very surprised that you wish me to become involved in the matter of admission to your order of the candidate, Mademoiselle de Chamesson, since it seems obvious that you are unaware that I must maintain a state of solitude and silence at this time. But it seems nonetheless that you have foreseen a certain disposition of my spirit that wishes that I speak on the occasion that you have offered me. If you knew me better, you would not have had to write giving me great proof of the charity you offer this girl. By the profession of belief I make as a Christian, she belongs to me more intimately than my own heart and it would never have permitted me to be indifferent where it is a question of a girl’s salvation. I am sure that your heart is involved just as intimately in the matter.
   I dealt with her before God in the discussion I had based on my memory of her treating her in the way I would wish someone treat me if I faced a similar decision. This includes everything I should say to you in detail of the particular cares I took in order to answer by my prayers and my attentiveness what you desire from me.
    One aspect seems to me at present clear. I judge that you should be content to remove the obscurity that your charity towards her brings to the situation. For there is nothing so natural among those who love, especially when the love derives from charity, than to cover over with clouds and darkness the bad conduct of those they love.
   I can not however help you to be content with the main problem. I hope that God will bring to birth a solution from the advice in a letter I will send to you later. Meanwhile you should simply wait a little while and not press her in order to give room for the Holy Spirit to make the changes that are necessary in her soul. The naivety alone with which she laid bare to you the bottom of her heart merits that you do her this favor. Remember what I told you on another occasion about the religious vocation of girls and how to avoid when dealing with them the many dangers and pains they pass through on the path towards devoting their lives to God.

                                                      34

    My Reverend Mother, do not concentrate on what could happen to your religious community by the exit of Mademoiselle de Chamesson and do not trouble the peace that should be there by vain fears about the future nor by useless thoughts about the past. For accomplishing this you are no longer permitted to think about the fault you committed by receiving her.
    It is not believable how greatly all religious communities, especially those with girls, deceive themselves by their choice of souls, each boasting about the reasons for their choice, But what the Son of God said to Mary Magdalene about the eternal end is true and should be followed by every means established by God to lead us there, and especially to the main end which is the religious life. We should not look for in the souls who wish to commit themselves to it anything except an interior vocation and we should say to them the words the Son of God spoke to Mary Magdalene, But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her, For if there is not a call from God, it is very difficult that the consequences be good, even when someone persists a fairly long time in the practice of good works.
    As we see that no matter how solid are walls and no matter how beautiful are the furnishings in a house, if the foundation is not good and well established, the house will necessarily fall into ruin. It is the same kind of image the Son of God used in the gospel where he wishes that we build our religious virtue on rock and not on sand to make it immovable against temptations.
                                                           
                                                          35

    My Mother, you have retained well enough what you have heard and even if you had retained much less, the principle that remained with you spiritually would be enough. That does not consist in knowing things in detail. That is what often deceives the world which amuses itself picking up a lot of truths. A single truth is enough when we take care to moisten the soul before God by prayer and before men by good works. Be content with what you know. As long as you look to God for each action to draw to yourself new light, you will advance insensibly along his paths and you will be astonished that not having seen yourself grow at each moment, you will feel nonetheless that you have grown by the exercise of this kind of prayer and by good works.
    Take care not to pass beyond the degree of your present grace and your gift. There is nothing so dangerous than to wish to leave the path where we are serving God in order to enter upon the path of someone else and to usurp gifts that we have not received by serving God by following the path of another rather than our own. That is to reverse the order of  God who has prescribed for each soul a path to go to him which is as particular as a face we look at is so different that it is  never found equal in two persons. And the uniqueness  we discover in a face is found likewise unique in all the other parts and faculties of the body and the soul from which are born the variety and the difference of our actions. It is true that we do have all of us something in common just as in the conduct of souls there are common and general rules that our faith teaches us and that we must all follow. Give yourself to God, my Mother, communicate often with him in peace and without any effort he will instruct you better in a small amount of time, prepared as you are by the divine seeds he has left in his Church, than all the Doctors of Theology in the University of Paris could in a century. Consider yourself happy to be his for it is a clear lack of gratitude not to have ceaselessly the feeling of his presence in your heart among the forsakenness he has caused for so many souls. And especially give him perpetual thanks in your heart for having delivered you from a brief affliction that was a very great obstacle to your salvation.

                                                         36

    My Mother, after the long intercession you made in your letter for Mother de Chantal, I do not see that I can refuse to receive the letter she wishes to write me. If I do not answer her in the present time, it will be necessary that it be impossible because I will be looking at her in the future before the face of God  with you with me so that it please him to  make her such that she may be able to support the brilliance of his face and appear before him without confusion.
    It is nothing to have left the world by exterior vows, if in the interior we have not left and torn from our heart by long practices of virtue the invisible world which causes us more evil than the one we see with our eyes. For the devil changes as we change and he shuts himself up within us leaving the world as we leave it in order to attack us more forcefully in our solitude. There is nothing more like being a martyr than to destroy by the spirit the body while we live as the Martyrs brought themselves to life in spirit by destroying their body and gave the spirit a life of glory that it did not have at all in the body.
                                                       
                                                       37

    It was not by forgetfulness or hardness of heart that I passed over writing to you until now. God knows I wanted to and there are just causes that prevented me. I hope I will be later in a position to make you yourself a judge of these causes.  But when I learned through public talk the extent of your affliction and found myself freed by it of the causes of my silence, I would have believed I was offending the general charity that God obliges me to express to everyone, and the particular charity I have for you, if I did not assure you of the deep feeling that knowledge of your affliction has caused me.
    I do not want to exaggerate it by the magnitude of the circumstances which surround the evil because I would not be doing what I mean to do which is first of all to console you by the part I take in your pain and then by the prayer I make that you return as soon as possible to the regularity of the double profession you make to be a Christian and a woman devoted to religion.
    Never, my reverend Mother, will you happen upon such an occasion to be able to be of such great worth in a short space of time than as in the rest of your life.
    You have in Scripture admirable examples of patience and in your misfortune, if one can so name it, I consider you happy to have a means so great and so unusual to bear witness to Jesus Christ that you love him more than the whole world.
    It is a grace from God that he puts in our hands the means to bear witness to him that during the greatest afflictions he holds the first place in our hearts and that he rules both as a husband and a master submitting to his sovereign power every other affection that is not in sympathy with his.
    I know very well that you have not forgotten what I told you when we used to have conversations about the state of your soul. That compels me to say that I can only admire that it pleased God to afflict you in this way and to add suffering to the happy conduct of your past life. Evils, my Mother, are goods in this world for persons chosen by God. You are judging yourself facing suffering with patience and you are yourself experiencing the judgement of God on you by the inclination now and forever of your heart towards him.
  I do not doubt at all that Jesus Christ demands this inclination from all his spouses. He has promised to each his Kingdom provided that each will despise the greatness of all the kingdoms of this world. We are not far from the enjoyment of those external goods that should be the end of our aspirations and will extinguish in us every memory and every affection born from the flesh, the blood and the sight of his creatures.

                                                          38

    Reverend Mother, do not be astonished by anything, I beg you, and practice the Gospel in this particular matter as in your other practices of religion. It is expressed in a digest  by two commandments, one wishes that all our desires be towards heaven, lay not up treasures upon earth...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, the other orders us not to look back and to have our view straight before us advancing more and more on our path, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven.
    God is so great that he has no need of us nor of our good works to make his plans succeed. For our faults, our hasty and delayed actions, can equally serve him to reach his ends. That is enough to stop all the thoughts and troubles we can have about the past and make us consider only the present time. We must do the best we will be able according to the light we receive from God who laughs to himself at our worries in a way as favorable as the way the prophet who said he laughed to himself  at the calamities of evil persons was terrible.
    There is no better piety than to keep ourselves in peace and joy in the face of all bad happenings. Then we are in a state similar to that of God who never becomes sad or troubles himself with whatever happens in the world. As he hides himself, according to the psalm, in the middle of storms  and rescues souls by this strategy, believe that he keeps you in sight among the forces of darkness and will disperse them quickly by his light because of the confidence you will have in him.
                                                      39

    My mother, your last letter which speaks of your sickness made me eager to let you know that you are not indifferent to me. I could hardly wait for the day of the outgoing mail to arrive and instead of as before not writing you in order to take care of more urgent business, I am leaving now all my other occupations to write you. I will be extremely relieved to learn the consequences of your sickness and whether or not  I have deceived myself in the good hope I have about them.
    But while reading your letter I discovered you fearful about what you are going through and I remembered certain things that you revealed to me before God that cause you pain. I dare to say, to console you and to make you submissive to the will of God on this occasion, that you have no cause to dread anything and you can claim for yourself with humility the promises of the Son of God.
   I will not say anything more to you now for the time is more suitable to speak to God about you than to speak to you about God. I pray that Sister N. trust in God and not fear any more than you to humbly take Holy Communion, for what you write me about her shows that she is sufficiently disposed to this grace from God. I beg her to believe me and do it. I will wait to find in the next mail arrival good news.

                                                       40

    My Mother, regarding the poverty where you find yourself, I answer with one word. If you follow it all the way to the end with a humble spirit, it will lead to your advancement and to the glory of God. However, you do not act against the spirit of poverty if to have things necessary for life you use legitimate means without violence and with a never ending dependence on God.
    I will not say more now begging you that this extremity may make you more attentive to call upon God and to be joined to him in complete submission to events that it will be his will to allow. God has made known to me over a long period of time that nothing equals being joined to him, even to the extreme of wishing to be poor, if it please him, as he was poor in this world where he had neither a room nor a bed to rest on in the city of Jerusalem, that he left at night after working there all through the day to sleep on mountains and to pass there his nights praying.
    Let us be his, My Mother, faithfully and constantly, and we will lack nothing, or, if we are without bread, and we endure it happily,  we will see take birth from this scarcity a double abundance of goods both for the body and for the soul.
    As I take care not to go beyond the laws of Christian poverty, I take care also not to forget to take advantage of the least occasions God puts in my hands to provide for the needs of my abbey of Saint-Cyran. For it is to humble myself and to be submissive to God to do it just as it is pride both to concentrate only on my own aims and to do only what I feel like doing.
    As regards some points you make in your letter, take care, My Mother, not to become annoyed by the delay God sometimes takes to correct you and to help you approach nearer and nearer to perfection, that is, to him himself. Do only what is necessary to involve him in your progress by presenting yourself often to him as a beggar and someone poverty-stricken who has always need at every moment of new grace from him to subsist and to walk in his path without falling.
   The whole of our present life is a mixture of good and evil. As long as we are humble in our faults and we bear witness to God by our attention to him and by actions undertaken with the kind of humility that shows that we know and feel that the cause of our faults is in ourselves and that it will stop acting against us only when it is his will to stop it by the power of his grace. If we act in this way, we have no reason to fear that in the end God will not favor what we desire.
   The soul does not rise except by descending and descends while rising. It happens often that the advancements we make in virtue are causes of our falls. On the other hand, our faults are the causes of our advancements according to whether pride or humility mix themselves up in one or the other, which happens often in favor of one part of the mixture because of our corruption or in favor of the other part because of the mercy of God who takes pleasure in raising up the humble and beating down those full of pride.
   Work only to ruin in yourself this deep wound which has remained in you after Baptism and which will cause us always pain while we live in this mortal body. There is always a continual combat in those who are friends of perfection between the pride of sin and the humility of the grace of Jesus Christ, who does invisibly in every just person what he did in the visible combat that he waged against the devil.
   That is why, My Mother, the disapproval of everything, especially of persons, silence, modesty in speech, restraint in our actions, and dependence on the slightest good movements in our hearts hoping they will grow stronger by God’s love are the only means to grow in Christian virtue.

                                                              41

   Mother Superior, I remember the promise  I made to send you some thoughts about the poverty of Jesus Christ. There is a close connection between poverty and death. One serves as a preparation for the other because someone truly poor is always prepared for death having nothing that holds him back. That is why God gave me the grace to join them together and to read each day one sentence about poverty and one about death. This thought is enough to assure you that I think of my promise to you but it was just a quick thought and I will need more time and other circumstances to be able to write more completely on the subject. If God wishes that I accomplish it, he will give me in the future enough freedom to do it.
    I am pleased that N. has yielded herself to your guidance without waiting for mine. She   needs only this simple submission to what you will tell her in the future without waiting for me or for others. We must do what we can for souls without ever becoming discouraged. We should pray for them even more when it seems to us that we should talk to them less. The election of a soul is a marvelous thing that comes completely from God without the chosen soul having contributed anything to its election. And yet it is the unique source that is as eternal as God for all the good that appears in a soul during its life.

                                                        42

     Mother Superior, without expecting it, I found a little time and a little paper (here in prison we live with a scarcity of everything) to write you. I am overjoyed that you consented to the influence of God and to the advice of persons who belong to him to take upon yourself the duty of Superior.
     If you had been alone on your own, I would not have advised you to do it, but having recognized the great union of charity between you and Madame de Puylaurens, whom you are replacing, and the remains of God’s grace in her and in you, I do not fear that you are going where grace is leading you.
    There are a hundred places in Scripture where God created for his service from two persons one person. As for me, since I know the bliss of such grace because of my union with Monsieur Singlin, I do not believe there is any greater happiness than when someone feels good because of charity. Thus Scripture itself has heightened for me sentences that filled me with the same delight that I have also experienced in pious relationships with others.
    For this reason, please read the letter to M. Singlin that I am enclosing and compare it to yours as if they were only one letter as you and Madame de Puylaurens are only one and the same person. Together you represent the admirable unity of all the faithful on earth who are one and the same body and one and the same spirit in Jesus Christ.

                                                   43

    Mother Superior, I confess I had great joy from your convalescence and it would not be such if I had not had great grief from your sickness. Saint Paul teaches that there are sadnesses upon sadnesses that are not bad because they are born from true love which is not true if it is not eternal as is God’s love.
    The advantage they have over the sadnesses of the century, which have for their causes cupidity and a temporal kind of love, is that they are always good and the others are always bad. For cupidity is a source that can produce only evil. Charity on the other hand is a good root that produces only good fruits. Real good comes from grace and excludes all evil.
    There is nothing except purity and simplicity in the movements of the Holy Spirit which is eternal love expanding in our hearts when it pleases God to grant us this gift. It is the only love that merits the name. All the other loves of the earth, and even saintliness without God’s love, are not worthy of the name. For God gives nothing to those souls that he loves if he does not give his very self.
    If your health were not the result of God’s bounty we would not be so delighted about it. But we love it for the love of him whom we love and to whom we desire that you may again be able to devote your life.
    Your life is good for several persons and your death is good only for you alone. You must take enjoyment in preferring these several persons to a single person and not love more your salvation than that of the sisters who need you.
    Do not do anything in the future except with a plan regarding proper nourishment to keep your health and do not put any strain on your body more than it can bear. It is often necessary that penitence leave the exterior world in order to take a place within us. It needs sometimes to hide from the eyes of men to show itself to God and his angels who do not rejoice in the Gospel as greatly because of penitence of the body as of the soul, which suits them better.
    Whatever change God causes in the temperament of a good man, it is certain that he can always remain immovable in the service of God and advance in it if he continues to love him. It is a consolation that I take for myself and that I give you in order that you increase all the more your interior charity towards God as you decrease because of weakness your exterior penitence.
    The simple vigilance over your interior life joined to silence, solitude, prayer should be in the future your practice of devotion. Each age has its particular penitence and each virtuous person has the order of his ages arranged very differently from others. Old age is found often in youth and the last period of old age in the first. When you begin to only grow old then you can say you are decrepit and that it is necessary to treat yourself as such.
    All of this is what I discovered in my spirit at this moment to pass along to you as the effect of the happiness I feel to have seen that God granted you health. To conserve it, I feel obligated to help you by giving you these thoughts, which are all the more acceptable as they have no other interests except those of your religious community and of God.

                                                     44

    Mother Superior, I rejoiced greatly from the confirmation of your convalescence and from your promise to look after yourself better than you have in the past, going from one penitence to another. Penitence must never decrease in this world but we should often substitute interior penitence for exterior which is only the effect of it.
    You have no reason to fear death nor to give yourself in these difficult circumstances so much grief about whether or not your tears come from concern only for yourself or from true love. The knowledge of this secret belongs only to God. It is an exercise of humility for you to shed tears without wishing to discern the origin of your tears. Only, when we find that we are tearful, we should cast our eyes upon Jesus Christ crucified if we fear too greatly the sight of our own sins. But, by the grace of God, you have no reason to fear that.
   The longing for death is a good thing provided it be also without any large discernment about the causes that produce it. It is enough to cast our eyes on the glory of heaven and on the little rest there is on earth where we are always sinning.
   The fear of an increase in a sickness is also superfluous because everything is in the hands of God. He uses great evils and great sufferings to purify us more here and less in the other world. Properly speaking, death is the great purgatory for those who have lived well in this world.
    The privation of the Mass is always painful for souls and it teaches us that by sickness we enter into a true penitence which separates a sick person for a time from the sacraments of God. God loves more the privation of them in a true penitent than their usage. Since I have not said Mass for some time, I would be truly someone who should be pitied if that were not true. If you are as discouraged as you say, I am as a result very unhappy since, not being as agreeable to God as you, I rely nonetheless greatly on his mercy without being discouraged as little as I can.
    I let him be the judge of what I am and of what I have committed and I keep myself close to the knowledge that I have at present a strong will to serve him. I raise myself up gently when I fall and I find a new courage from my own falls to better serve him. I pass my life each day waiting that he do with me what will please him being content with myself and hoping to die in his grace as little as it may be. For since grace is inseparable from him and his spirit, I will not be less content  because of my small condition in heaven if I reach it than I am because of the condition I have in the world, where I keep myself as happy as a prince although I am so far from this condition.
    This is my answer to your discouragements and to your words of penitence and weakness from a sick person scarcely up from her bed. They are good words in the mouth of someone innocent but they are perhaps wrong and produce weakness in a penitent. I do not condemn anything but it seems to me that there are certain silences that are more humble than certain words which seem perhaps to be more humble. But whoever expresses his sentiments with humility does well whether he is quiet before God or he speaks about himself to men.

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    Mother Superior, what I wrote you about the death of your mother is more in my heart than what I expressed in my letter. She was solid in virtue and what appeared weak in her exterior hid her strength within that helped her humble herself and conserve her interior power more securely. A dress does not stop being beautiful and precious although it may have a small stain.The sun sometimes suffers eclipses but they are only exterior appearances and the trees that produce the best fruits do not stop having froth.
    As for what you said about remorse being still with you, it is certain that fathers and mothers take for us the place of God. We owe them a great deal and even those who have fear of God do not always fulfil all the things they owe them.
    I spent enough time in my native region to love my mother much and God gave me the grace to give her a strong witness of my love on important occasions. But although I loved her tenderly I realized after her death that I did not give her everything that I owed her.
    I sometimes begged you and I beg you still not to admit girls so easily either to your religious order or for religious instruction and to consider well beforehand the bottom of their hearts and learn about their previous experience. If you do not hold yourself strictly to that, you can not aspire to put your religious community in the condition God wishes it be in. There are few spirits in our time fit for religion among men and women as well as among girls and I see this every day more and more.
    You do well to recognize the care that God has taken for your temporal and spiritual life. He will always continue to care for you if you maintain a complete dependence on him and do not have any concern for anything else. It is better to die being poor and in dependence on him than to exist being rich in goods and desires outside of his order.
    For since everyone must die, and even before the end of the world, it is better to die keeping the rules of the Gospel which withdraws us not only from the world but from ourselves in order to make us depend on God alone.
    It is poverty, which I say is not only the true royalty of the soul but the divinity of the soul, to live on earth as if there were only God and we, that is to say, our soul.

                                                         46

    Mother Superior, I do not know what will be the result of the increase in the sickness of the sister we both sympathize with. God who controls it makes us see by our experience that doctors are often wrong in their judgements. Whatever happens, we have a great reason to console ourselves because she is among those whom we should cry over for one day or for two at most.
    I know some things about her that she told me that make me know she belonged to God before her birth. Whatever declines however great they might have been, even if God had not preserved her from them, they would not have been able to harm her because the plummets of God’s Chosen are incapable of harming them and God derives his own glory from them and they theirs.
    That is enough said to rejoice at her death if it happens.  Even her long sickness is a reason for our consolation as a sign of the unending peace she will have received after her death. For the deathbed where the good are sick for a long time before dying is truly a purgatory that God prolongs in diverse ways according to the remains of sins in us that eternal justice can not allow to go unpunished.
    I can say that I loved her more than I revealed to her and that I was ready to do for her whatever she desired from me. I also shed tears over her and I hope that God will have caused my tears to have been from love and charity and that she will see them and perhaps feel them in the other world. It pleases God to cause souls in heaven to feel the effects of the Communion of the faithful. At the times of the beginning of the church, the faithful then were called Saints because they were truly Saints whereas in our times we become Christians by means of faith only after great difficulties. We are barely able to gain faith by imitating the works of Jesus Christ by which he was the Christ of Christs and the Saint of Saints, by his works and not by faith which was not in him because he was blessed both in his clear vision of God and in his mortal body.
    I pray to God that he purify me in whatever place will please him and if it is in this world it will be for me a favor rather than a severity. It will result greatly from his mercy and little from his justice no matter how great may be the suffering it will please him to send me, whereas in the other world purifications in purgatory are the result only of his justice. That is why purgatory so greatly resembles hell.

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   I say nothing here to the Mother Abbess. If it were possible, I would write her every day. I ask for her prayers more than ever and those of that sister who does penance being blind.  I do not dare to say that I envy her that she is blind because we must flee from evils and only deal with them in a spirit of Christian humility. But it seems to me that being blind is for her a great grace. Sister N. is not less in my memory she being only one heart made up from all the hearts of the community. If I wrote to her and to all your religious community, I would not be able to subtract my heart which lives first and last for all those who belong to God. Just as the heart is in the body, I pass without thinking about it from the affection I owe your religious community to the affection I have for the whole church.
    I am touched by the continuation of the sickness of Sister Anne of the Nativity. But tell her that I send her from the bottom of my heart the thought that if I were in the good disposition that she is in towards God, I would like to die instead of her but like her. There is nothing to fear in this final passage for those whom God has given the grace to live as she has lived. She should not cause herself grief because of her faults but hope that she will be purified of them by the sacrifice of the Mass which cleans and whitens souls that belong to God. I prescribe for her nothing else but her submission to the will of God and that she bear witness of her submission to him by silence, by rest and by humbly suffering from the evils that accompany sickness. However she will suffer with all of us praying for her. According to our faith, peaceful suffering accompanied by silence and waiting for God is the greatest of all prayers. The apostle Saint Paul and Jesus Christ in the gospel prescribe for the faithful nothing more when they are healthy except to do good works and live waiting for the coming of Christ. When we are sick and we have no longer any way to do good works, we must put in their place patience and suffering from our sickness and join to them the same waiting for Christ which is common to the sick and healthy and is inseparable from the faith and charity of a  Christian. That is what I would like someone to tell me often if I were in her place for in that consists our whole consolation, that by sickness we go to Jesus Christ and that Jesus Christ comes to us. I say it with great confidence to all sick persons as I say it to her. I pray that she live at this time more than at any other time in the great hope of Christ. Let her say in her heart to God that she is in her bed for the hope of Israel which is the name which consoled the apostle Saint Paul when he was in chains and uncertain what would happen to him but very certain that the greatest evil that happened to him would be his greatest good.

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    The sickness you speak about in your letter is painful to me. I am afraid that it may be the result of some secret sadness arising from what we ordered this soul. She has perhaps weakened herself from seeing herself separated from confession and communion, two practices which apparently supported her devotion before. If that was it, you must tell her that it is a trick of her enemy that she should not let herself go along with, depriving herself by yielding of the opening by which God will gratify her with his gifts at the right time and the right place. I do not dare believe that this is the cause of her sickness and I take my fear as a misgiving which nevertheless shows the kindly feelings I have for her true welfare. There is nothing I would not do to set her mind straight and to take from her the idea that there might have been another way to guide her. It is not in the usage of saintly practices like confession and communion that consist our principal piety. The day of Pentecost makes us see this. Before the Apostles were imperfect and God did not put them in the true state of perfection and in the fullness of Christian virtue except by giving them the fullness of his grace, from which derived then all the particular acts of virtue which produced finally the conversion of the world. They endured the martyrdom of their bodies by the power of the same divine love that they had received on that day. When God will have given grace to this soul to give her the kindly feeling that it is necessary to have towards him to make useful for her all the other saintly practices of our religion, then we will not delay giving her the usage of confession and communion, that she perhaps desires. But however while waiting for this grace it is necessary that she do peacefully what we have prescribed for her. She herself should condemn before God these aversions that she might possibly have as being inspired in her by an invisible spirit that she ought to hate. The devil will surely hate seeing her enter in such a good way the paths towards her salvation.
    Otherwise, I have nothing to tell you about the practices they we should adopt because of sickness. I have not ordered for this soul for exterior penitence anything except the practices of your religious community joined to the adoration of God. All of that however is not much compared to the patience we should have before God in sickness. For when patience derives from charity and the love of God it is like the fullness which the outside of a house merely covers and without which presence inside everything else, however beautiful it may be, would be nothing. Patience is the perfection in us of God’s work. According to Saint Paul and Jesus Christ it is the consummation of Christian life and according to the Fathers it is the gathering together of all the virtues. In conclusion, please tell this soul that as a 1000 years are before God only one day, a sickness well endured is worth more before God than a great number of good actions done while healthy. There is no penitence at all like that that God himself imposes and that a soul endures with true humility.

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    Those who take care of you and desire to conserve your health for the good of your religious community have proposed to me with charity certain things that they have noted in your actions in order to know what I think about them. I answered in substance that, in order that all our actions be actions of virtue, they must have something of mediocrity about them without which there is no virtue at all. This excludes both activity and idleness from the life of a religious Christian.
   I try to live this way and when I fail I am repentant and I accuse myself before God of a fault. We must bear witness to him that our charity which is our virtue is well ordered and that we prevent that there be an emptiness in us by distancing ourselves just as much from a multiplicity of actions as from negligence and bad omissions. Without this there is neither peace nor joy in our occupations whose fruits should be charity.
    This advice is totally different from that I gave you in order not to wound your health doing more than your weakness permitted. We must admire God in all good people who are able to serve him otherwise than we and not always imitate them. A weak man who would like to do more than he can is speaking to you in this way.
    I will not tell you anything about what happened to me except to say that all of life is full of risks and adventures that we are unable to foresee. All of piety consists in taking them well as effects of the order of God for whom nothing is purposeless and accidental. We should pray to God that he deliver us from the bad effects which depend on our choices and that he give us patience in the face of other effects which depend on him alone and that he himself has placed in those that proceed from our freedom.

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    In answering your last  letter, I must say that there are always things in us to abridge, that we must always raise and lower, rest and act, hurry and slow down, to progress in the grace of God and to prevent those empty places and those deformities that are used as safe havens by our enemy. When I wrote to you about your activity, I considered mine in yours and I urged on myself in order to keep watch with you. Everything in grace, as in nature, is composed of opposites and we must always have our eyes lowered and raised towards God in order to not fall into some fault.
    I believe that someone who is the most perfect is the least astonished when he falls back. He recovers from his fall more calmly by taking in easily a good amount of everything that is told to him. For what are we not capable of when it is a question of sin? We have only God to thank who holds us back and makes us take steps forward in virtue in the midst of our greatest weakness.
    I know the weakness of your body. Preside over it. It is a penitence that God has prescribed for you to deal better with you at this time rather than at another. Whoever can follow God by adapting himself to the weakness of his body is the most humble.
    As for what happened to you regarding this candidate for your religious community, I tell you that you must be very careful not to contribute to the union of those whom God separates as well as to the separation of those whom he unites. It is true that if we are not eager to become involved in vexatious encounters, and if we are not too afraid to be displeasing or to desire to be pleasing to people, and we let God act, so he can caution us and enlighten us with his light, we will escape without pain from the greatest difficulties. But we wish too greatly to unite God and men, our spirit and his, to keep ourselves at peace in our feelings and to conquer for God without making war.
    We must ask God for spiritual tranquility to act well with people who anger us, and especially that it may please him to make us simple and wise in conferences, in conversations and in businesses which are concerned with his glory. What difference does it make if we are not pleasing to men if we are thinking seriously about pleasing God? But it seems to me that there is nothing that causes us more harm after those prejudices and preoccupations of our spiritual life in certain situations than dialogues we have with ourselves and with others about what transpired in those kinds of conversations we had with someone. We should always let some time go by before speaking about them and let our spirit rest using one or two days for other occupations or for saintly conversations which make what happened previously die. And then afterwards if we think it is good to examine what we said and what happened in some conversation, we should do it after invoking God together with some spiritual person. But if there is a lot of doubt about the subject, it is better to not speak about it at all to anyone and make it die in God, in whom all good works should die as his chosen die to the world receiving a new life in him.
    I beg you to instruct my Sister N. that  extraordinary healings of souls are by no means less miraculous than extraordinary healings of bodies and thus she is more obligated to God and to all the instruments that it pleased him to use  as if he had resurrected her by the prayers of Martha and Mary Magdalene who are represented by these two good Mothers to whom she owes a complete obligation.  Since God used them, she should love, respect and revere them as the true Mothers of her soul of which God alone who created her is the Father. There is nothing which makes me see better that God loved her with that love which he had before the creation of the world for his chosen. This obligates her to love him without attaching herself to any creature since he deigned to love her, as she herself has given me reason to believe, before there were any creatures either on earth or in heaven. Let her attach herself only to the practice of the virtues which have preserved themselves only in religion and which have been instituted only to separate the soul of creatures by saintly exercises and attach it by love to God alone.
    As far as my life in prison. I tell you that it is against Saint Paul to believe that the truth can be imprisoned and against Saint John also. While he was in prison, he preached by his disciples more strongly what he had been imprisoned for. It seems to me his prison was like heaven and being there he resembled Christ who did not establish faith by his disciples until after he had risen up to heaven. If you believe that the whole world is our country, and all the houses that are in the world our house, and all the riches of the world our own property, you would never believe I was a prisoner or poor, and so I do not believe I am in that condition. I consider myself not only free, something pagans could never have said, but also as really delivered living still in prison, something pagans ought not to have said and were unable to say in their wise madness either to God or to men. I say it boldly with full consciousness to both.

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    I like order in everything and that we do everything by number, weight and measure as we do ruling our house and as God did in creating the world and the church.
    I desire that you imitate the ancient discipline of the church. It used to do nothing except in common and the bishops used to call their priests to their councils. Even Jesus Christ who is the head of the whole church does nothing except in common with the entire universal church. He distributes his graces which are his goods and his riches in a general spirit. He does not consider any prayer or any good work in particular but in general as done by the whole body of the church which he takes into account when he makes his special awards and shares his particular gifts.
    I do not do otherwise in all my own matters. I consult all those who must have a place in them before reaching any conclusion. I give a place for God’s grace whom I invoke and I call on others to invoke praying him to make the matter clear to us. For without God all the resolutions of men are vain. And I use this method whether there is a little difficulty or a lot because of the consequences that can happen as a result which only God knows. Therefore I employ delayed actions and suspensions in order to give room to the grace of God to enlighten me by this waiting period and by my submission to him.
    I grieve over the sickness of my sister N. I recommend her to God and she has every reason to trust herself to his mercy. He has given us evidence by the change he worked in her that he wished to save her. She belongs to those souls whose natural charity results in tears. But the natural workings of grace dries them by the joy it gives to her heart. She should derive all her consolation from the memory of the love that was proof to her that it came from God. God has not given so much grace to others and it is they we should pity. Our faith causes us to have compassion for those inflicted with incurable evils and that condition should make us inconsolable. She will find God peaceful towards her and ready to receive her. That does not prevent that our prayers for her be mixed with tears.
    I would be pleased if we obtain the position you wrote me about for this young man David provided that he reveal beforehand the whole depth of his soul and all his inclinations to Monsieur N. He knows very well that I do not love anyone except in order to save him and that I do not intend that he enter this house except to live there virtuously and according to God. Someone should tell him also that because I desire virtue in young people and not having found him submissive to my teachings, I had separated him for a time from my house having however always maintained for him the same affection in my heart. In that I imitated the behavior of God who abandons sometimes in appearance his chosen and then brings them back to himself when he knows that the abandonment in which he left them for a time will be useful for them  in order to better keep them doing their duty in the future.

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    I am pleased that you speak only of a cold and a headache for N. It is a sign that she will not die from her sickness. What remains for her now is just penitence since what penitence death gave her was too rude. You have needs to use her for which are penitential only for her, although on the other hand her works and taking care of her health are good for her and for others.
    I wish that Sister N and I were poor in spirit: we would be overly rich before God. For when poverty is extreme and resembles the Sacraments, which are exterior and interior, it is truly Christian and makes us equal to the men made new by Jesus Christ. Otherwise she is either angelic or Hebraic and neither the one nor the other condition belongs to us because the time of one has past and the time of the other has not yet come.
    Saint Cyprien does not want Christians to believe they have lost anything when their vines freeze and their harvests fail. If we were good Christians, we would believe we had not lost anything as the result of our law suits. We should know how to anticipate them in order not to begin them and if they are forced on us to support their loss. Just one suit can become a source of passions. A good of this world is such a small thing before God and a great cause of disorder among men. We cannot say whether we win or lose, in view of the judgement of God, by losing a legal action.
    We must suffer with patience the disorders that we cannot prevent. It seems to me that God has a reason for everything and that he gives us excessive amounts of grace because he does not want to put us to a test in everything. For he is the one who puts men in prison and troubles their businesses. I saw this again yesterday in four or five examples from Scripture.
    Please tell Mademoiselle N that I beg her to trust herself to God so that he may humiliate her by his grace in her heart to the point of making her equal to simple and small people. It is to them alone that he promised the intelligence of his truths and the infusion of his love, without which the plan she has will not succeed for her very well. I will ask this also from God for her and I would like to be agreeable enough to God to obtain from him this grace.
    I recommend to you this new widow that God has made fall into your hands so that she may share in your charity. I beg you also that you be more diligent than you have been up till now towards my sister N. You should visit with her more than the others even if it will only be from time to time. We have to pray a great deal for her and have great pity for those whom God seems to favor less

                                                          53

    I am feeling the same pain as you about N but I say in my heart with David, “I am prepared and I am not troubled” (Paratus sum et non sum turbatus). There are troubles that are good and troubles that are bad, and charity has its true and sincere passions just as the passions have their false charity that we must name a false love.
    The virtues of this world have something human about them and contain a little of the dirt from which they are born. Virtue as well as the soul contract something sensual in the body that receives it.  That said, we can excuse the worries we have about the sicknesses of our friends. The trouble we have about them is a penitence for us and a punishment for our sins as well as a loss we cause ourself because of them when it pleases God.
    I thank your whole religious community for the care it takes to pray to God for me and I console myself together with the sick person and I ask for her only calm for her heart and quiet for her spirit and her mouth joined to her suffering from the evil that she bears so well in her body.
    We must remember that it belongs only to Jesus Christ to suffer and to die while crying out loud and for us to suffer and die silently. One is the mark of a force divine and human and the other the mark of our very human and very  humble weakness.
    I am nearly angry that the desire I have to be faithful to God in the least of things does not allow me to  be always as self-satisfied as I might wish. I say to God for N only one word, penitence. I do not see that she can do it better than by the exercise of the painful charity that God has involved her in by her own initiative. There are involvements that we enter either by surprise or by human passion from which God alone ought to release us. I would not however wish that my advice be taken as a rigorous law. I do not pretend to constrain and even less to dominate anyone of any social status who consults me. I follow first and foremost God in the counsel people ask of me and then I consider that souls are not always susceptible to what is best and cause sometimes harm to themselves while wishing to do good for others. Everyone is the judge of his own powers and excessive violence is bad even in the exercise of charity.
    This person you speak to me about seems to be one of those simple and innocent souls to whom everything is allowed. They can even, according to the gospel, swallow poison without any harm. You should not break with her. Your business with her is saintly.

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    I have enough charity not to let my friends make errors without warning them about them. Your health no longer belongs to you anymore than your life. If it were praiseworthy for a weak person to live like someone who is stronger, it would be a great wrong for me to have never fasted for such a long time as a year, but I hope that since I have in my heart always the desire to fast, God will pardon my breaking this law. There is nothing by which God tests us so greatly as making us pass from from one life to another, and from fish to meat. Whoever opposes it does not know what Saint Paul said, that the Kingdom of God is neither meat nor drink. If in matters where we can carry out our good works, in spite of there being dislikable things among them, we are faithful to God acting according to the degree of our strength, he exempts us from everything that we do not do because we do not have enough strength. I beg you to be happy serving God according to the grace he gives you and not to aspire to the grace of others.
    I believe I should give you this advice after the more expansive one I gave you after your sickness. Grace is always the same but exterior practices are different according to the age and the disposition of the body. It is not up to the old to do what the young do, nor for the young to do what the old do. All the sick and the weak are old and all the healthy are young.
    Let each one regulate himself according to the gift and the power he has to serve God and let him remember that Saint Paul said we must think soberly. This applies also to good works and especially to those that concern the body. The will to do everything like we did them at another time, or as we see others doing them, means to violate, according to Saint Paul, sobriety, and to commit an excess when we believe we are fasting more austerely.
    I was touched by your religious woman and I complain of when and whenever you hid her from me. I name Christian virtue the way you have represented to me hers. I would not like to be virtuous in any other way for the peace and tranquility of the soul in the midst of all the changes that happen is the greatest mark of charity which is our whole virtue. All the rest is nothing for we must make judgements about charity and grace by this tranquility. I wish that in the Communion Of Saints God grants me goodness through her, as I would wish that he grant it to her by me. Yet it seems to me that having lived as she lived she has now little need of priests. I am happy if she still thinks of me.
    I love poverty so much that sometimes I make it equal to martyrdom when a poor person takes pleasure in dying rather than finding a remedy for his hunger by taking a path that he does not believe to be Christian enough. There are ruins that God loves more that certain repairs, just as there are deaths he loves more than lives. It is a great thing to live on earth as though there is not anyone here except God and us. It is not believable what effects of providence dependence we have on him  produces.

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    I think I received your letter a little later than you intended and since that time I have been very busy. For that reason I was not able to go to Port-Royal to have a closer share in the sickness of my Sister C. de la Misericorde. But I behaved towards her as the spirits of heaven behave towards us when they remember us even though distant from us. Today saying the mass, I had a particular attention to it not desiring for her that her present life detract her from the other which alone deserves the name of life. In heaven it is not so much that we are free from the death of the body as from that of the soul, a death that we always risk sinking into while we live here. She must however still never weaken but keep herself continually in the practice of hope which is the virtue of those who are afflicted. Urge that she abandon herself to God in an interior silence which excludes even thoughts and closes off everything except the vigil of the heart. She is very fortunate to be sick in a religious house like Port-Royal which is as separated from the world as the earthly paradise of Adam, although he was in the world. It is the best augur she can have to assure her with humility of the other paradise for nothing equals those persons at Port-Royal living and dying in the world. She should suffer pain honoring Jesus Christ suffering the pains of the final sickness by which he succeeded in redeeming us. It is not reasonable that having exempted us from the torture of the cross, which we owed, that we be exempt from another sort of death which makes us by it similar to him. We can imitate him and return to him love for love by dying for him as he died for us.

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    Reverend Mother, I find myself today with some willingness to come to you to speak about the Cross (Note: It is the third of May, the day of the Discovery of the Holy Cross). I leave it to God to determine for me on the spot or at some time if it will be in public or before the group that I spoke to last time. The reverence that I owe God keeps me in a state of suspension when it is a question of speaking about him and I am also affected by the opinion I have of myself and of those who listen to my words. For the preaching of the word of God is all the more a sacrament  different from other sacraments because its effect is less infallible. Since It depends more on us and on our dispositions than on others, we ought to take great care to prepare for it humbly and to have present no other discernments than those we have about other sacraments when we receive them or have received them.
    I ask from your charity particular prayers for that business that we now know a great success. We must pray that God direct it not with the providence which takes place in the evils that he permits but the providence which directs and produces the effects that he has divinely ordained. For it is not believable how few actions there are even in the souls who serve God that we may say are done by his will. It is a subject that should humble us.

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    It is not in my power to be involved right now in anything, still less in preaching or in anything else, because I have a continual distraction. I learned today that it is not enough to have power: if I should have it, I would still need a new grace to produce the effect. The Son of God was born from the tomb with glory and with the power to give glory to all bodies by his Body. But he will produce the effect of his glory only at the day of Judgement. This makes us see that moments of grace are now in his hand. He said himself that such moments were in the hand of his Father who gave them to him with everything else as payment for his cross. If he wishes to relieve me on Holy Friday of my other business and allows me to come to see you, I will see what I will have to give and I will try to find it in a source which I can draw from by being with you. Naturally, you can draw from that source without any need that I speak to you. So there is all I can promise you, which is nothing, as being nothing myself, and having need of you yourself in order to be able to give you anything. I am writing en route to go to say Mass where I will offer to God your house and your desire that he make you daughters of the Passion. For you have such a great devotion to the Holy Sacrament which is an invisible Passion in the same Body that suffered visibly for our salvation. The difference is that there his blood was spread upon the earth and here it is spread in our souls which ought to be for that reason similar to heaven which received the Body of God on the day of the Ascension.

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    I see clearly that God brings forth all the evils in the world as well as everything good. This interior desolation that you feel following relief to your body comes more from God than other evils because it is an interior evil that only can have good motives in God since it follows one of his favors which is not yours in particular but for everyone in your religious community, and for me in particular, who desired it with that kind of desire that God considers good when it comes from charity.
    You must bear much better than you have ever all the interior and exterior evils that he will be pleased to send you in the future since he has given you a proof in public that you are his concern. All the ambition I have in the bottom of my soul, which however I submit to his divine will, is that it may please him to look upon me once in my life in a way so that  simply and without reflection  I can feel in the bottom of my heart that I am his concern.
    Everything else seems nothing to me. If God would create ten thousand worlds and he would give me their government, as he gave Adam the government of Paradise, I should not be consoled by it as I would be by a small feeling that he might give me in significant circumstances that he has received me in his grace and that I belong to him eternally. I say eternally for I do not make any distinction between being in his grace for a certain time and not also being there eternally.
   That is how he treated you in your sickness and that obliges you to take as favors every interior desolation. But it is clear that the desolation you feel and that is fitting after the convalescence of your body is a minor disposition from the joy belonging to the same body and to all the souls of your religious community who have a part in it. For God has a habit accordingly to hide himself when he causes particular favors for those he loves as if he wished to conceal awareness of the good he has caused us. Never does he bear better witness that it is for the soul that he causes the favor and not the body than when he afflicts it and causes it interior desolation.
    I admire sometimes this conduct of God that we could name, so to speak, the humility of God that he adopts in order to teach us this same virtue and not to raise our spirit too high by the bodily graces he causes us. I would not want the grace that gives us the power to imitate him and to moderate the joys we gain by the good works we do, which instantly spoil us, if we do not know how to conceal them as God conceals his in order to teach us to conceal ours. That is why he humiliates himself in some manner as greatly in his divinity and in his graces as he humiliated himself in his humanity on earth in all the good works that he has accomplished here. There you have what I learned in what you wrote me about your interior desolation.
    You see by the operations that go with it and that you have indicated by your letter that it is entirely from God and a kind of purification of the soul which God prefered to accomplish in the soul itself and by this desolation that it feels than by the continuation of the sickness of the body. For it is visible in you and in people like you that never are sicknesses sent for another purpose than to cure the soul and to cleanse it. It is up to all souls to be cleansed by themselves and by interior evils. And God does not stop sicknesses of the body in order to transfer them into interior evils except in favor of those that he favors.
    I am telling you my true feelings. I believe I am speaking the truth and my understanding of it is better than what I can succeed in expressing.  I could go on to a more extensive development if I wished to speak the whole secret that I know only by myself. I know for certain that I do belong among those souls who ought to aspire to those favors and those transfers of evils that God causes from the body into the soul, from exterior sicknesses into interior ailments in their favor.
    All the rest of your letter informs me better that I speak the truth both for you and for myself. I am very happy that it is more advantageous for you than for I. For it is enough for me if I belong to God, as I hope, when it is not in a condition as advantageous to me as to another. I do not love at all in a negative way. I am content that another may be more than I before God. I am very happy to know him and to love him a little and it makes little difference that I don’t believe firmly enough in him until I become more certain about what I believe. For I am not able to make myself so miserable that I do not love God and that he does not love me in spite of what I might have been before at another time. Sorry but the lack of paper here in prison does not allow me to add anything more except that I feel joy because of your double health.