Thursday, February 13, 2014

To Love Strongly Without Self-Seeking

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Daily life can be filled with struggles; many of which will test your resolve and shake your confidence in yourself.  But it is then that you must place your confidence in God and in the abundance of his love for you in order that you may continue to carry out your daily duties with fervor.  Slowly God will restore the calm within your heart and give you the strength to take up your resolutions once again.  

Cowardice, weakness, awkwardness in my demeanor with others - things that can harm the ideas I cherish; acute physical suffering and deep moral suffering; and in the midst of this a will unshakably turned to God, a plentitude of confidence in Him and love for Him; daily duties performed at whatever cost by great effort, without fervor, but sill performed; then, little by little, calm returning to me, and divine strength penetrating me again; new and energetic resolutions, the hope that God will help me to do my duty, all my duty - that is the tale of these last weeks and of my soul during this time.

The faith with which God illuminates your heart must be professed with conviction but so as never to offend or wound.  In fact, at times, you must be willing to sacrifice a great deal that is dear to you - what is pleasing to your tastes and inclinations - in order to reconcile others to God.  

I feel that all my knowledge, assisted by that inner light and grace of which the trace is so apparent in my life, must be a knowledge of reconciliations.  I must profess simply and strongly a faith that divine labor has at length created in me, but I must do this in a way that never wounds or offends conviction or its absence in others.  I must sacrifice, unknown to anyone, my tastes and inclinations, everything but the principles by which I live.  I must do what seems to me my duty - works of charity, devotion to others and to the poor - in a way that can offend no one nor interfere with my immediate duties.

Of course, this is a difficult and delicate task.  You have many things to balance and hold in tension. Such a task requires that you let go of self-concern at every turn and above all never to neglect the divine grace that is offered to you at every hour.  This is your hidden but beautiful spiritual warfare - to love and to suffer.

This, in fact, is my task: to do my different duties without anyone's suspecting what trouble I have in reconciling them, to forget myself, to develop what God has given me of reason and intelligence, to banish pride even in the most subtle forms I know so well, to love strongly without self-seeking, to accept by divine grace the duty of every day and hour and never to neglect it, however small it may be.  I shall often fall, but that help from above for which I shall humbly petition daily will not fail me.  Besides, to live is to fight, to suffer, and to love.

Elisabeth Leseur