ON SOME DIFFICULTIES OF TEMPERAMENT.

XCIII. 

You are good; you want to be better, and you are making 
great efforts in the details of life ; but I am afraid that 
you are encroaching rather too much upon the inner life 
in order to adapt it to the demands of society, and that 
you are not sufficiently denying the very inmost self. 
When we fail thoroughly to attack the internal stronghold 
of self-will concerning those things we love best, and most 
jealously, I will tell you what ensues : on the one side, 
great impetuosity, sharpness, and hardness of that same 
self-will ; on the other hand, a scrupulous notion of sym- 
metrical rule, which resolves itself into a mere observance 
of les bienseances. Thus externally comes great restraint, 
and internally a very lively state of rebellion an alto- 
gether intolerable struggle. 

Try, then, to work a little less from outside, and a little 
more from within. Take the most keen affections which 
hold sway in your heart, and place them without condi- 
tion or reserve in God's Hands, to be crushed and slain 
by Him. Resign to Him your natural haughtiness, your 
worldly wisdom, your pride in the greatness of your house, 
your dread of disrespect or want of consideration in the 
world, your sharp severity towards whatever is unseemly. 
I am less afraid of your temper than of other things : you 
know and mistrust it; in spite of good resolutions it carries 
you away, and in consequence it involves humiliation ; 
and thus it will tend to counteract other and more dan- 
gerous faults. I should be less grieved to see you pet- 
tish, cross, brusque, wanting in self-command, and as a 
result thoroughly ashamed of yourself, than strictly cor- 
rect and irreprehensible in all externals, but fastidious, 
haughty, harsh, hard, ready to take offence, self-sufficient. 
Seek your real strength in prayer. This kind of human 
strength and rigid observance of detail in which you 
delight will never cure you. But accustom yourself in 
God's Sight, and through experience of your incurable 
weakness, to compassion and forbearance towards the 
imperfections of others. Real prayer will soften your 
heart and make it gentle, pliable, accessible, kindly. 
Would you like God to be as critical and hard towards 
you as you often are towards your neighbour ? You are 
very strict in externals, and very lax inwardly; and while 
so jealously watchful over exterior graces, you have no 
scruple in letting things inward languish, or in secret 
resistance to God. You fear God more than you love 
Him. You want to pay Him with acts, for which you 
expect a receipt, instead of giving Him your all unre- 
servedly. They who give all unreservedly need no 
accounts. You indulge in certain half-concealed cling- 
ings to your grandeur, your reputation, your comforts. If 
you really look into the state of things between God and 
your soul, you will find that there are certain limits 
beyond which you refuse to go in offering yourself to 
Him. People often hover around such reservations, 
making believe not to see them, for fear of self-reproach, 
guarding them as the apple of the eye. If one were 
to break down one of these reservations, you would be 
touched to the quick, and inexhaustible in your reasons 
for self-justification, a very sure proof of the life of the 
evil. The more you shrink from giving up any such 
reserved point, the more certain it is that it needs to be 
given up. If you were not fast bound by it, you would 
not make so many efforts to convince yourself that you 
are free. 

It is but too true that these and the like frailties hinder 
God's work in us. We move continually in a vicious 
circle round self, only thinking of God in connection with 
ourselves, and making no progress in self-renunciation, 
lowering of pride, or attaining simplicity. Why is it that 
the vessel does not make way? Is the wind wanting? 
Nowise; the Spirit of Grace breathes on it, but the vessel 
is bound by invisible anchors in the depths of the sea. 

The fault is not God's; it is wholly ours. If we will 
search thoroughly, we shall soon see the hidden bonds 
which detain us. That point in which we least mistrust 
ourselves is precisely that which needs most mistrust. 

Do not bargain with God with a vie\f to what will cost 
you least and bring you in most comfort. Seek only 
self-denial and the Cross. Love, and live by love alone. 
Let Love do whatsoever He will to root out self-love. 
Do not be content to pray morning and evening, but 
live in prayer all day long ; and just as through the day 
you digest your meals, so all day long, amid your varying 
occupations, digest the sustenance of love and truth 
which you have imbibed in prayer. Let that continual 
prayer, that life of love, which means death to self, spread 
out from your fixed seasons of prayer as from a centre 
over whatever you do. All should become prayer, that 
is, a loving consciousness of God's Presence, whether it 
be social intercourse or business. Such a course as this 
will insure you real, lasting peace.

 

Share to Facebook
Share to Google Buzz
Share to Google Plus
Share to LiveJournal
Share to MyWorld
Share to Odnoklassniki
Share to Yandex
This entry was posted in Fenelon Letters to Women. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.