CXIII. A Soul hesitating between God and Evil – Warnings, Menaces, Entreaties
Soreze, Oct. 4, 1860
My dear Friend,
I AM very sorry I shall not see you before the end of October. Your visit would have given me real pleasure, and have afforded me an opportunity of talking to you about your soul and its wants. The ennui, the sadness, and disgust you experience are quite natural in your state of mind and body. You have not to work for a living, and thus you are deprived of the ambition and necessity which urge on the greater part of mankind. All your time is before you, with unvarying pleasures which cannot eternally be filling up the twenty-four hours of the day. On the other hand, you have not got vice for a distraction. Not that it would be a remedy for you : on the contrary, you would experience in it a poignant bitterness which would disgust you with yourself.
Vice is so infamous in its pleasures, and at the same time so short-lived a resource, that it beguiles a few moments only at the price of the most crushing remorse. But it would at least, you may say, give you a shock like what drunkenness gives to those who endeavor to forget their misfortunes in it. This shameful and dearly purchased shock you cannot have. God has shown Himself to you too clearly to admit of the possibility of your abandoning yourself for any length of time to the delirium of your imagination and your senses. You would be so vile in your own eyes, so branded, so tortured with remorse that experience would appear to you harder than everything else. God loves you, He has taken possession of you, He will not let you go. He will visit your faults with a chastisement by the side of which the most cruel punishment of your body would dwindle away to nothing. Consequently this door is shut to you. You may dream of vile pleasures, but you will never give yourself up to them without frightful remorse.
Still if vice is painful, and as it were, impossible to you, you are not in possession of the joy and peace of virtue. You are lukewarm and languid in God’s service. Prayer, communion, penance, pious reading, all that sustains and enraptures the soul is almost unknown to you. In these matters you have no regular habits, you live upon fugitive impressions, going to confession and communion now and then, to mass on Sundays, keeping the abstinence days of the Church, but not loving Jesus Christ tenderly, as your best friend, ready at every instant to press Him to your heart, to give Him your life, to suffer for Him in your body every opprobrium and every kind of pain, to be scourged and crucified for Him like He was for you. The Crucified One does not speak to your soul, and counterbalance in it those shameful desires. What then remains to you ? A void. You are wandering in a dark and chilly tomb, haunted by frightful apparitions, ready to grasp at them as you would at immortal realities. Jesus Christ stops you, He reminds you of Himself, He says to you, I love you, I died for you ; if you only knew the happiness of loving Me!
My poor friend, such is your state. It will only cease by your giving yourself to God. To this end it is not necessary to become a priest or a monk. No. A man may love God tenderly and ardently in every position. But you must mill it ; and in order thereto lay down an inviolable rule of your relations with Him. Daily prayer, morning and evening ; monthly confession and communion, practices of penance and humility, which by humbling you, by chastening your mind and senses, will naturally increase your love. For love springs out of sacrifice, and especially out of the sacrifice of pride. You are vain, my dear friend. You like show; you like your horse and your groom ; you wish to be considered a fine young fellow and to be looked at ; you are proud of your nobility ; you are, in fine, a little animal filled with a variety of different kinds of pride, so natural to you that perhaps you do not even notice them. Consesequently no one has more need than yourself of voluntary and involuntary humiliation.
See how I talk to you. Alas ! it is because I love you, and would willingly suffer much to give you the love of God. You are naturally cold, and still there are resources in your heart. Your friendship for me is one of them ; but you must make use of it in the supernatural order, and give me a detailed account of all that goes on within you. What a time since you have come to confession to me ! Already you have begun to find this disclosure difficult, even to me, your friend. Come then and see me as soon as possible, and keep me well informed of your interior state. I no longer know an iota of what you do for God or against Him.
Adieu, my very dear child, I embrace and love you.