Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,
Know that the closer God draws you to His Heart and the more He perfects your love the more you will experience suffering. Not for suffering's sake; but that your soul may be purged and prepared for a deeper union with Him. You must learn to lean on your infirmities rather than on any perception of perfection in order that you might know the joy of experiencing His strength and virtue acting in you. Desire His love and embrace all that those who wish close union with the Crucified must suffer. He desires to clothe you with His own beauty.
I do feel intense pity for you and pray for you with all my heart, as I know what you are going through. No, dear, it is not pride—of course there is pride in us all—but that is not the reason of the awful isolation and want and hunger for God’s love; no, it is God’s doing. He is purging your soul in order to prepare it for union with His Divine Son. “If anyone bear fruit, My Father will purge him—that he may bear more fruit.” Now I want you to have confidence in me and believe my word. It is not our perfection which is to dazzle God, Who is surrounded by myriads of angels; no, it is our misery and wretchedness which draw down His mercy. All God’s dealings with us are a consequence of His mercy (mercy is Goodness touched by the sight of misery), and that is why the great St. Paul says, Let others go to God leaning on the perfection of their life (as the Pharisee), “for me, I take glory in my infirmities that my strength may be His virtue.” If you could once understand that you are never dearer to God, never glorify Him more than when, in the full realization of your misery and unworthiness, you gaze at His infinite goodness and cast yourself on His bosom, believing in faith that His mercy is infinitely greater than your misery. St. Paul tells us that God has done all in laudem et gloriam gratiae suae, “for the praise and glory of His grace.” Now the triumph of His grace is when it raises up the miserable and impure and renders them worthy of divine union. See Mary Magdalen. She was a sinner by profession, she had seven devils in her whom Jesus expelled, and yet He not only allowed her to touch His divine feet, but it was to her He appeared first on Easter morning. He is a Spouse infinitely rich and powerful, and when He chooses a poor little child like you to be His bride His joy is to enrich her poverty, and clothe her with His own beauty. You are now passing through a period of trial, but Jesus loves you dearly. He is so happy to see you want to be loved by Him. That is not self-love, it is “wishing for what God wants you to wish. If I could only get that into your head, and keep your eyes fixed on Him—on His goodness—and not on your little self. Seek the Lord, seek His face continually.
You are just going through what all souls called to close union with the Crucified must suffer. God sometimes allows sufferings of all sorts—bad health, weariness, temptation, difficulties, etc., to swoop down at once on the soul to purify her. She must feel her utter dependence on Him. Souls united as yours is with our Lord, whose whole life comes from Him, suffer more than others when He leaves them. This winter is only to prepare for a more fruitful summer. All you can do is to bow your head and accept the trial, and bear with the Lord till He come back. Jesus gives us the example. In the Garden of Olives it is said: “He began to fear, and to be weary, to be heavy and sad.” I pray for you with all my heart.
Blessed Columba Marmion.