Section 7 - On the Attainment of Peace.
The soul that does not attach itself solely to the will of God
will find neither satisfaction nor sanctification in any other
means however excellent by which it may attempt to gain them.
that which God Himself chooses for you does not content you, from
whom do you expect to obtain what you desire? If you are disgusted
with the meat prepared for you by the divine will itself, what
food would not be insipid to so depraved a taste? No soul can be
really nourished, fortified, purified, enriched, and sanctified
except in fulfilling the duties of the present moment. What more
would you have? As in this you can find all good, why seek it
elsewhere? Do you know better than God? As he ordains it thus why
do you desire it differently? Can His wisdom and goodness be
deceived? When you find something to be in accordance with this
divine wisdom and goodness ought you not to conclude that it must
needs be excellent? Do you imagine you will find peace in
resisting the Almighty? Is it not, on the contrary, this
resistance which we too often continue without owning it even to
ourselves which is the cause of all our troubles?
It is only just,
therefore, that the soul that is dissatisfied with the divine
action for each present moment should be punished by being unable
to find happiness in anything else. If books, the example of the
saints, and spiritual conversations deprive the soul of peace; if
they fill the mind without satisfying it; it is a sign that one
has strayed from the path of pure abandonment to the divine
action, and that one is only seeking to please oneself. To be
employed in this way is to prevent God from finding an entrance.
All this must be got rid of because of being an obstacle to grace.
But if the divine will ordains the use of these things the soul
may receive them like the rest-that is to say-as the means
ordained by God which it accepts simply to use, and leaves
afterwards when their moment has passed for the duties of the
moment that follows. There is, in fact, nothing really good that
does not emanate from the ordinance of God, and nothing, however
good in itself, can be better adapted for the sanctification of
the soul and the attainment of peace.
Section 8 - To Estimate Degrees of
The perfection of souls, and the degree of excellence to which
they have attained can be gauged by their fidelity to the order
established by God.
The will of God gives to all things a supernatural and divine
value for the soul submitting to it. The duties it imposes, and
those it contains, with all the matters over which it is diffused,
become holy and perfect, because, being unlimited in power,
everything it touches shares its divine character.
But in order
not to stray either to the right or to the left the soul should
only attend to those inspirations which it believes it has
received from God, by the fact that these inspirations do not
withdraw it from the duties of its state. Those duties are the
most clear manifestation of the will of God, and nothing should
take their place; in them there is nothing to fear, nothing to
exclude, nor anything to be chosen.
The time occupied in the
fulfilment of these duties is very precious and very salutary for
the soul by the indubitable fact that it is spent in accomplishing
this holy will. The entire virtue of all that is called holy is in
its approximation to this order established by God; therefore
nothing should be rejected, nothing sought after, but everything
accepted that is ordained and nothing attempted contrary to the
will of God.
Books and wise counsels, vocal prayer and interior affections if
they are in accordance with the will of God are instructive, and
all help to guide and to unify. In contemning all sensible means
to this end quietism is greatly to blame, for there are souls that
are intended by God to keep always to this way. Their state of
life and their attraction show this clearly enough. It is vain to
picture any kind of abandonment from which all personal activity
is excluded. When God requires action, sanctity is to be found in
Besides the duties imposed on everyone by their state of
life God may require certain actions which are not included in
these duties, although they may not be in any way opposed to them.
An attraction and inspiration are then the signs of the divine
approval. Souls conducted by God in this way will find a greater
perfection in adding the things inspired to those that are
commanded, taking the necessary precautions required in such
cases, that the duties of their state may not clash with those
things arranged by Providence.
God makes saints as He pleases, but they are made always according
to His plan, and in submission to His will. This submission is
true and most perfect abandonment.
Duties imposed by the state of life and by divine Providence are
common to all the saints and are what God arranges for all in
general. They live hidden from the world which is so evil that
they are obliged to avoid its dangers: but it is not on this
account that they are saints, but only on account of their
submission to the will of God. The more absolute this submission
becomes the higher becomes their sanctity.
We must not imagine that those whose virtue is shown in wonderful
and singular ways, and by unquestionable attractions and
inspirations, advance less on that account in the way of
abandonment. From the moment that these acts become duties by the
will of God, then to be content only to fulfil the duties of a
state of life, or the ordinary inspirations of Providence would be
to resist God, whose holy will would no longer retain the mastery
of the passing moments, and to cease practising the virtue of
Our duties must be so arranged as to be commensurate with the
designs of God, and to follow the path designated by our
attraction. To carry out our inspirations will then become a duty
to which we must be faithful. As there are souls whose whole duty
is defined by exterior laws, and who should not go beyond them
because restricted by the will of God; so also there are others
who, besides exterior duties, are obliged to carry out faithfully
that interior rule imprinted on their hearts. It would be a
foolish and frivolous curiosity to try to discover which is the
most holy. Each has to follow the appointed path.
Perfection consists in submitting unreservedly to the designs of
God, and in fulfilling the duties of one's state in the most
perfect manner possible. To compare the different states as they
are in themselves can do nothing to improve us, since it is
neither in the amount of work, nor in the sort of duties given to
us that perfection is to be found. If self-love is the motive
power of our acts, or if it be not immediately crushed when
discovered, our supposed abundance will be in truth absolute
poverty because it is not supplied by obedience to the will of
However, to decide the question in some way, I think that holiness
can be measured by the love one has for God, and the desire to
please Him, and that the more His will is the guiding principle,
and His plans conformed to and loved, the greater will be the
holiness, no matter what may be the means made use of. It is this
that we notice in Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In their separate lives
there is more of love than of greatness, and more of the spirit
than of the matter.
It is not written that they sought holiness in things themselves,
but only in the motive with which they used them. It must
therefore be concluded that one way is not more perfect than
another, but that the most perfect is that which is most closely
in conformity with the order established by God, whether by the
accomplishment of exterior duties, or by interior dispositions.