The United States of the World​​
35 arguments for a United States of the World are printed in numerical order at World Unity. 19 letters of Saint-Cyran, one of the leaders of the Jansenist movement of 17th century French catholics, are listed at Saint-Cyran Letters.

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


    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.


    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.


​    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.


​    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


   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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.