God to Be Served in Ordinary Ways

(Francis Fenelon, Spiritual Letters to Women)

We must think how to repair the interior disorder of which you complain. The too earthly conduct of others excites all that is too earthly in ourselves, and draws us from our abiding center in the life of grace; the only thing to be done is to return there with simplicity and mistrust of self. We often discover harshness, injustice, falseness, in our feelings, when brought into contact with persons who wound our self-love; but it is enough that the will does not consent to these tendencies. We ought to turn our failings to account by learning absolutely to mistrust our own heart.

I am very glad that you find yourself incapable of continuing the manner of life you have attempted. I should be greatly afraid for you if you felt so steadfast in well-doing that you were confident of perseverence; but I hope everything when I see that you honestly despair of yourself. Oh, how weak we are when we think ourselves strong! how strong in God when we feel our own weakness!

Feeling does not depend on yourself, and love does not depend on feeling. Your will depends on yourself, and that is what God requires of you. Of course action must follow on the will, but God does not often require great things of us. If you regulate your household, keep your affairs in good order,  bring up your children, bear your crosses, dispense with the empty pleasures of the world, indulge your pride in nothing, repress your natural haughtiness, strive to become true, naive, lowly–to be silent, recollected, given to the life that is hid with Christ in God–these are the works that please God.

You say that you would rather bear crosses in expiation of your sins, and in token of your love of God. Be content with your actual crosses, and before seeking others try to bear them well; give no heed to your likes and dislikes, keep up a general tone of unreserved dependence on God’s will. This is continual “death unto self.” Refuse nothing to God, and do not go beforehand as to things in which you do not see His will clearly. Everyday will bring its own trials and sacrifices: when God wills you to pass into another state of things He will prepare you unconsciously to yourself.

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