Moments of Love with Mary
– The Spiritual Letter Box –
Since returning from my vacations there has existed inside me a certain insecurity which I find difficult to describe. I have the impression of being cut off from God through my own fault; through my lack of generosity, of fervor, of love. I acknowledge that I in no way deserve all the graces I have received and continue to receive. I feel myself far from God. This I find only too just for I know to what degree I am contemptible. It is strange, but I feel I need to be scorned by men and God. A compliment hurts me; a “thank-you” likewise, since I merit nothing. I also sense how unworthy I am to be a priest. So I ask the Lord to pass, Himself, through the instrument which I am. I would not want that this passage be made narrower for the Lord or that He should give less to souls because of some obstacle I have placed there myself.
See how poor I am! So I must hide myself in the Heart of Jesus to be, in turn, overwhelmed by Him, enkindled by His love, and, forming but one with Him, be annihilated by Him, through love.
A young unworthy Religious
Let us probe the secret depths of your soul; this soul which increasingly abandons itself, becomes ever more open to things spiritual, more loving of God and souls, more flexible to divine demands, while all the while grace works ever more deeply through the intervention of God who is no longer barred by reticence or resistance.
This phase of purification through which you are passing is part of the normal progression of your soul upwards towards God. Hence the very acute sentiments of unworthiness which you experience. The Lord is so great and we are so small. This operation of grace proceeds slowly and is often accompanied by deep suffering. The sight of our imperfections and faults is almost overwhelming. We must accept that we are what we are, full of wretchedness, while at the same time desiring that our Lord continue His work of purification in our soul to the end that it may finally be, in His eyes, more beautiful, more pure, more loving.
This purification tears up the deep roots of our self-love, of our pride. Then will follow an upsurging wave from the depths which will bring all this to the surface, and the soul, quite involuntarily, will be submerged in a powerful wave of pride. These contrasting experiences can be strangely shocking and overpowering, especially after the period of abasement which you have undergone. Now all this is quite normal and should not discourage you. Be patient until it passes, offering up this suffering which is so strange and overwhelming.
Your refusal to be taken in by this affected disparagement, inspired by the devil, should not draw you into any prolonged struggle to rid yourself of it. It is sufficient to accept the suffering it causes and to remain calm. If you do not, the devil will take advantage of it to trouble you and wear you out. It is another form of purification. At the very time you think you will never be rid of it you will suddenly be delivered from it, and you will know a great peace. You will thank the Lord for having subjected you to such experiences.
At present, compliments annoy you, make you feel badly; be advised that these sentiments will be followed by just the contrary mood. Do you understand? Consequently, you will have to make acts of humility.
It is so wonderful to be a priest! And to feel unworthy of this office is likewise wonderful. For it is thus that the Lord passes and transforms the soul into a jewel of great price.
How I like the phrase at the end of your letter: “I must hide myself in the Heart of Jesus to be, in turn, overwhelmed by Him, enkindled by His love, and forming but one with Him, be annihilated by Him, through love.” There can be no loftier aspiration. But such an aspiration can be realized only at a great price. May you be capable of tasting that enrapturing peace which the Lord communicates to every soul that allows itself to be purified. Adverse winds will blow upon your zeal and your noble ideal, but just as surely, they will be followed by radiant sunshine which will warm, enlighten and stimulate your soul.
When the humiliations come, you must not forget that you desired them…
(Review, “The Army of Mary”, volume I, no. 2)