Spiritual Counsels of Father de Caussade

Section I – Conformity to the Will of God

Written in 1731 to Sister Marie-Thérèse de Voiménil, in the 9th year of her profession, and the 28th of her age.

For the attainment of perfect conformity to the will of God.

1st. At the beginning of each day, and of meditation, Mass, and Communion, declare to God that you desire to belong to Him entirely, and that you will devote yourself wholly to acquiring the spirit of prayer and of the interior life.

2nd. Make it your chief study to conform yourself to the will of God even in the smallest things, saying in the midst of the most annoying contradictions and with the most alarming prospects for the future: “My God, I desire with all my heart to do Your holy will, I submit in all things and absolutely to Your good pleasure for time and eternity; and I wish to do this, Oh my God, for two reasons; first: because You are my Sovereign Lord and it is but just that Your will should be accomplished; secondly: because I am convinced by faith, and by experience that Your will is in all things as good and beneficent as it is just and adorable, while my own desires are always blind and corrupt; blind, because I know not what I ought to desire or to avoid; corrupt, because I nearly always long for what would do me harm. Therefore, from henceforth, I renounce my own will to follow Yours in all things; dispose of me, Oh my God, according to Your good will and pleasure.”

3rd. This continual practice of submission will preserve that interior peace which is the foundation of the spiritual life, and will prevent you from worrying about your faults and failings. You will put up with them instead, with a humble and quiet submission which is more likely to cure them than an uneasy distress, only calculated to weaken and discourage you.

4th. Think no more about the past but only of the present and future. Do not trouble about your confessions, but accuse yourself simply of those faults you can remember after seven or eight minutes examen. It is a good thing to add to the accusation a more serious sin of your past life. This will cause you to make a more fervent act of contrition and dispose you to receive more abundantly the grace of the Sacrament. You should not make too many efforts to get rid of the obstacles which make frequent confession disagreeable to you.

5th. To escape the distress caused by regret for the past or fear about the future, this is the rule to follow: leave the past to the infinite mercy of God, the future to His good Providence, give the present wholly to His love by being faithful to His grace.

6th. When God in His goodness sends you some disappointment, one of those trials that used to annoy you so much; before all thank Him for it as for a great favour all the more useful for the great work of your perfection in that it completely overturns the work of the moment.

7th. Try, in spite of interior dislike, to show a kind face to troublesome people, or to those who come to chatter about their troubles; leave at once prayer, reading, choir office, in fact anything, to go where Providence calls you; and do what is asked of you quietly, peacefully, without hurry, and without vexation.

8th. Should you fail in any of these points, make immediately an act of interior humility – not that sort of humility full of uneasiness and irritation against which Saint Francis of Sales said so much, but a humility that is gentle, peaceful, and sweet. This is a matter essential for overcoming your self-will, and to prevent you becoming a slave to your exterior or interior devotion.

9th. We must understand that we can never acquire true conformity to the will of God until we are perfectly resolved to serve Him according to His will and pleasure and not to please ourselves. In everything look to God, and you will find Him everywhere, but more especially where you have most completely renounced yourself. When you are thoroughly convinced that of yourself you are incapable of doing any good, you will give up making resolutions but will humbly confess to God: “My God, I acknowledge after many trials that all my resolutions are useless. Doubtless I have hitherto depended too much on myself, but You have abased me. You alone can do all things; make me then, do such and such a thing, and give me, when necessary, the recollection, energy and strength of will that I require. Without this, I know from my former sad experiences, I shall never do anything.”

10th. To this humble prayer add the practice of begging pardon at once or as soon as possible of all those who witnessed any of your little impetuosities or outbursts of temper. It is most important for you to practise these counsels for two reasons: first, because God desires to do everything in you Himself; secondly, on account of a secret presumption, which, even in the midst of so many miseries, prevents you referring everything to God, until you have experienced a thousand times how absolutely incapable you are of performing any good. When you become thoroughly convinced of this truth you will exclaim almost without reflexion, when you act rightly, “Oh my God it is You who do this in me by your grace.” And when You do wrong: “This is just like me! I see myself as I am.” Then will God be glorified in all your actions, because He will be proved to be the sole author of all that is good. This is your path; all the misery and humiliation you must take on yourself, and render to God the glory and thanks that are His due. All the glory to Him, but all the profit to you. You would be very foolish not to accept with gratitude a share so just and so advantageous.

Section II – Counsel for Outward Behaviour

Counsel for the outward behaviour of one called to the life of abandonment. Addressed to Sister Charlotte Elizabeth Bourcier de Monthureux.

When you wake raise your soul to God, realising His divine presence; adore the Blessed Trinity, imitating the great Saint Francis Xavier, “I adore You, God the Father, who created me, I adore You, God the Son, who redeemed me, I adore You, God the Holy Ghost who have sanctified me, and continue to carry on the work of my sanctification. I consecrate this day entirely to Your love and to Your greater glory. I know not what this day will bring me either pleasant or troublesome, whether I shall be happy or sorrowful, shall enjoy consolation or undergo pain and grief, it shall be as You please; I give myself into Your hands and submit myself to whatever You will.”

Fix your attention on what strikes you at the beginning of the day and on that with which grace inspires you more particularly in the interior of your soul, keeping it before you quietly. Begin your prayer with it, then give yourself up completely to the Spirit of God and remain thus for as long as He pleases. Imitate the good woman who exclaimed, “My God, if You will not give me bread, at any rate give me patience.”

Those who practise ordinary prayer in which the intellect is exercised should remember the subject of meditation prepared overnight, because if the mind is allowed to wander to all sorts of subjects, then the whole day will be out of order as a clock not set correctly at first will go wrong all day.

For the toilet, do all that is necessary, then think no more about it.

The way to hear holy Mass worthily is to represent to yourself the mystery of the Cross. Ascend Mount Calvary in spirit, and contemplate what takes place there as though you actually saw it. Admire first the justice of God who punishes His only Son for the sins of men of which He took on Himself the semblance and for which He had offered Himself as the atonement. Secondly, the greatness of God to whom such a reparation was due. Thirdly, the value of our souls reclaimed at such a price; fourthly the eternal happiness that Jesus Christ has merited for us and the eternal torments from which He has delivered us. Reflexions on these divine subjects should fill our souls with faith, hope, humility, compunction, gratitude and love. Those who cannot keep their minds steadfastly fixed on such high subjects should address themselves to the Blessed Virgin, who was present at this mystery, or to Saint John, Saint Mary Magdalen and the good Thief, and finally to our Lord Himself in token of their piety, and to give Him the honour due to Him on account of the excess of His immense and incomprehensible charity and mercy.

I have only two things to say on the subject of prayer. Make it with absolute compliance with the will of God, no matter whether it be successful, or you are troubled with dryness, distractions, or other obstacles. If it is easy and full of consolations, return thanks to God without dwelling on the pleasure it has caused you; if it has not succeeded submit to God, humbling yourself and go away contented and in peace even if it should have failed through your own fault; redoubling your confidence and resignation to His holy will. Persevere in this way and sooner or later God will give you grace to pray properly; but whatever trials you may have to endure never allow yourself to be discouraged. As to the Office, there are three ways of saying it, equally easy and solid. The first is to keep yourself in the presence of God and to say the Office with great recollection in union with Him, occasionally raising your mind and heart to Him. Those who can say it thus need not trouble to alter their method. The second way is to attend to the words in union with the mind of the Church, praying as she prays, sighing when she sighs, and deriving all the instruction from it; praising, adoring, thanking, according to the different meanings of the verses we are pronouncing. The third way is to reflect humbly that you are actually united to holy souls in praising God and in desiring to share their holy dispositions. You should prostrate yourself in spirit at their feet, believing that they are much more full of piety and fervour than yourself. These feelings are very pleasing to His divine Majesty, and we cannot be too deeply impressed with them. With regard to confession, be firmly convinced that you need not trouble about it, either on account of your miseries or of your sins. Saint Francis of Sales says that after sorrow for sin there should be peace. This then is what you ought to aim at, and above all you should be full of great confidence in the infinite goodness of God, remembering that His mercy is greater than any of His works, that He glories in forgiving us, but cannot prove His generosity if we are wanting in confidence. He loves simplicity, candour, and uprightness, go to Him therefore with perfect confidence, in spite of all your weakness, misery and unfaithfulness. That will win His heart, and He will forgive everything to those who trust in His goodness and love.

Do not spend more than half-an-hour over your preparation. More than that would be waste of time, and would give the devil an opportunity to create trouble in your soul. This must be avoided more than anything, for peace of mind is a tree of life, the true root of the interior spirit, and the best preparation for the prayer of recollection and interior silence. The first quarter of an hour at the most can be occupied with the remembrance of your faults, all those that you forget after this examen will be as if non-existent, and you will be forgiven. The last quarter of an hour should be employed in exciting yourself to contrition, begging this grace from God, and endeavouring to obtain it quietly and without any effort of the mind, by the thought of the goodness of God and the great mercy He has shown you in withdrawing you from the world, where you would have been lost, and calling you to the religious life in which you can so easily save your soul; or, by preserving you from dying in a state of sin; or, by reclaiming you from a tepid, feeble and imperfect life, in which you ran the risk of being lost, even in the religious state.

After reflecting for some moments in this way you should think that contrition being purely spiritual is, by nature, not sensibly felt, and that sensible sorrow is so misleading that certain sinners, in spite of every sign, are refused absolution, because it is possible that a habit of sin – even of mortal sin to which the will consents, may subsist with it. The surest sign of true sorrow for which the greatest sinner will receive absolution is, to resolve by the grace of God never to commit these great sins again. Then say from the bottom of your heart: “Lord! I hope You have given me the necessary contrition. I hereby ask Your pardon for all the sins I have committed; I detest them with all my heart because of the hatred You bear them. You see, my God, that I am truly sorry, not only for having committed them, but also because I am unable to feel all the sorrow I wish to have. You conceal this sorrow from me even in giving it, so that I may never be certain of having been pardoned, nor of being in a state of grace. It pleases You to keep me in this humble dependence in order to give occasion for faith and holy hope, the way by which You would conduct me. I am compelled to be satisfied with the remembrance of Your great mercy, and in it I will lose myself, and to it I will blindly abandon myself, fully and without reserve; and I will do so, Oh my God! with all my heart. Yes, Lord, I will rest willingly on You alone, accepting this state of uncertainty that is so terrible and in which all are kept, even the greatest saints and the souls most dear to You.”

As regards the declaration of your sins; tell those that you recollect simply and in as few words as possible, leaving the rest to the unbounded mercy of God without troubling about what you do not remember, or do not know. You can conclude by mentioning some greater sin of your past life. After that you may feel morally certain that you have received the grace of the Sacrament. The following is an easy way of practising frequent confession. To prevent more certainly all anxiety about the past and as a help for the future here is a counsel in a few words. Leave the past to the infinite mercy of God – the future to His sweet providence, and the present give up entirely to the love of God by our fidelity with the assistance of His grace, which will never fail you, except by your own fault.

While receiving absolution let this thought preoccupy you and, throwing yourself in spirit at the foot of the Cross, kiss the wounds in our Lord’s sacred feet saying “Oh I my God! I ask but for one drop of that most precious and adorable Blood that You shed for my salvation. In Your goodness let it fall upon my sinful soul to cleanse it more and more from all its stains, and above all, from the grievous sins of my past life for which I very humbly ask pardon. I have a sure hope of obtaining it from that very great mercy You have so often shown to this miserable and vile creature.” This done, I forbid you in the name of God, to think, voluntarily, any more either of the confession you have just made, of your sins, or of contrition in order to find out if you have been forgiven and are restored to grace.

This is a mystery known only to God, and one which He keeps to Himself; and the devil makes use of it to disturb and trouble souls in order to make them waste time, and to deprive them of that sweet interior peace, which is the best disposition for communion, and without which they can derive little fruit from that heavenly feast. In such a state of anxiety and distress it is difficult to have any desire for this divine food; it is even distasteful to us through our own fault, because, instead of rejecting and despising these foolish anxieties into which the evil one has thrown our souls we permit ourselves to be harassed and afflicted by them. Let them fall as a stone falls into the sea.

For Holy Communion these two points will suffice: before Communion let us act like Martha, and after like Mary, – that is to say we should prepare ourselves by fervent acts of virtue and of the good works adapted to our state, without uneasiness and without over-eagerness, and then reflect on Jesus Christ, on His infinite merits and love and remain united to Him in an ineffable peace, transcending all feeling.

Nature seeks self in everything, even in exercises of piety and virtue as well as in those actions prescribed by the necessities of this life. It was on this account that the saints sighed continually and were ceaselessly on their guard, looking upon themselves as their own greatest enemies. We should be particularly careful as regards those things for which we have an attachment and be ready to sacrifice anything that gives us pleasure to comply with the lawful demands of our neighbour, especially where the matter is one of obedience. The will of God should always prevail over our own desires however holy they seem to us.

Section III – Interior Direction

Method of interior direction, addressed to the same Sister.

1st. We attain to God by the annihilation of self. Let us abase ourselves till there is nothing of self to be perceived.

2nd. In the degree in which we banish all that is not God, we shall become filled with God, because where we no longer find self we shall find God. The greatest good we can do for our souls in this life is to fill them with God.

3rd. The practice of complete abnegation consists in having no other care but that of dying entirely to self to make room for God to live and work in us.

4th. The most excellent act of which we are capable, and one which in itself contains all other virtues, is to resign ourselves entirely to God by a total self-renunciation, and to lose self in the abyss of our own nothingness to find it no more save in God. This is the one thing necessary recommended by our Lord in the Gospel. Oh! the riches of nothingness! Why are you not known? The more completely a soul annihilates itself the more precious does it become in the sight of God. To lose yourself in your own nothingness is a sure way of finding God. Let us endeavour then to make the simple recollection of God, combined with a profound forgetfulness of ourselves and a loving and humble submission to His will become our sole task. This effort will keep far from us all that is evil and retain in us all that is useful for our salvation, and meritorious in the sight of God.

5th. Do not draw distinctions between the rest from labour, that is exterior, and that which is interior: it is all the same provided you submit willingly and keep interior peace – it is well to note this.

6th. In our intercourse with others let us be detached in a way that will show how far removed we are from all tenderness or feeling. It is inconceivable how small a thing will suffice to impede the soul, and for how long a time, often for a whole life-time a trifle is capable of preventing the wonderful progress that grace would have effected in our souls. God requires an empty space even in the most remote recesses of our nature in order to communicate Himself to our souls.

7th. It is in the most trying and annoying circumstances that you can practise the most perfect self-effacement and become confirmed in this matter by the loss of secondary things; let us then cheerfully acquiesce in the loss of everything except the loss of God.

8th. Let no business matter, nor any occurrence whatever, have any value out of God, and let God be all in all to us.

9th. Let us never be eager about anything nor allow our hearts to be oppressed by anything whatever. Where there is neither interest nor affection, there is no eagerness, nor sadness, but a void that is ever peaceful and unchangeable. In this we shall be established when we have detached ourselves from all created things, and shall find ourselves where self-seeking ceases; let us lose all to find all.

10th. When we have reduced ourselves to the Unity that is God, all that is not God is undesirable to us. If we but knew how to content ourselves with this supreme Unity we should never trouble ourselves about anything else. This truth thoroughly understood and well practised will enable us to cut off all superfluous things, even those that seem good, holy, and necessary, but which, in the end might do us harm instead of helping us to attain the object of all our aspirations – namely to be one with the Supreme Unity.

11th. Let our motto be that of blessed Giles of Assisi, “One to love, a single soul to a single God.” Let us go further still and love our identity in this Unity, but let us forget all things else, and remember nothing but this Unity, this infinite Unity – God alone. This expression – unity – is very enlightening. It will make us cut off all multiplicity, all superfluity and will be very efficacious in inducing us to give our whole minds to God and to discover all that He desires from us. We shall find in it treasures of grace, of light, of innocence, of holiness and of happiness.

Section IV – Conduct After Faults

Concerning our conduct after having committed faults.

1st. Endure with humility before God the humiliation of your faults. After having been unfaithful to grace and after accidental failings remember always that you are nothing and have a holy contempt of yourself. This is the great advantage that God allows us to gain even from our faults.

2nd. Fear, especially if carried to excess after whatever fault you may have committed proceeds from the devil. Instead of giving in to this dangerous illusion use every effort to repel it, and cast uneasiness away as you would cast a stone into the depths of the sea, and never dwell upon it voluntarily. However, should this feeling, by God’s permission be stronger than the will, then have recourse to the second remedy, which consists in allowing ourselves to be crucified in peace according as God permits and as the martyrs abandoned themselves to their tortures.

3rd. What is said about the fears that go with conspicuous faults applies equally to that feeling of uneasiness and distress which proceeds from constant little infidelities. This oppression of the heart is occasioned also by the devil. Despise and combat it as if it were a real temptation. Sometimes, however, God makes use of this anguish and excessive terror that certain souls suffer in order to purify them and make them die to themselves. If it is impossible to succeed in driving them away, the only remedy left is to endure this interior crucifixion peacefully in a spirit of absolute resignation to the divine will. This is the way to regain the peace and calm of a soul truly resigned to the will of God.

4th. The fears roused about the recitation of the Office are nothing but a mere temptation because actual attention is not necessary. In order that prayer may have all its merit it is sufficient to make it with virtual attention which is nothing more than an intention to pray well formed before beginning, and this, no distraction even though voluntary can recall. So you can say the Office quite well while at the same time enduring continual involuntary distractions, as the trouble caused by these distractions is the best proof that the wish to pray well is heartfelt; it is also a sign that the wish is genuine. Therefore this wish makes the prayer a good and true prayer. Although hidden from the soul, on account of the trouble occasioned by these distractions the good intention, nevertheless, exists and is not hidden from the sight of God who gives us a double grace, first in hearing our prayers as He does all prayers rightly made, and then in concealing this from us in order that we may be mortified in everything, and on all occasions.

Section V – Temptations and Trials

On temptations and interior trials. Addressed to Sister Anne Marie-Thérèse de Rosen, confidante of the inmost thoughts of Madame de Lesen, through whom the latter communicated with Father de Caussade.

1st Principle. In the eyes of God violent temptations are great graces for those souls which by them suffer an interior martyrdom; they are the great battles in which great victories have made great saints.

2nd Principle. The keen pain and cruel torment endured by a soul attacked by temptations is a sure sign that it has not consented, at any rate, not with that full entire consent, that advertence and deliberation which constitute a mortal sin.

3rd Principle. During the darkness of these violent temptations the soul, fatigued and troubled as it must needs be, will commit many minor faults through weakness or negligence, surprise or thoughtlessness; but I maintain that in spite of these faults it merits more and is more pleasing to God and is truly better fitted for the reception of the Sacraments than ordinary persons, who, favoured with sensible devotion, have hardly any struggles to endure, nor any violence to do to themselves. The virtues of the former are much more solid having passed, and still passing through such severe trials.

4th Principle. Whatever sins people who are tempted may have committed in the past, if for some years they have been firm and have given no voluntary consent, they will make the more progress in the ways of God the more humble they are rendered by these temptations, because humility is the foundation of all good.

5th Principle. Most people, not much advanced in the ways of God and of the interior life, set no value on any operations but those that are sweet and evident to the senses. It is certain, however, that those operations that are most humiliating, afflicting, and crucifying, are most calculated to purify the soul and to unite it intimately with God. Also, all masters in the spiritual life are agreed in recognising that more progress is made in patient endurance than in action.

6th Principle. As God converts, proves, and sanctifies seculars by temporal afflictions and adversities, so He usually converts, proves, purifies and sanctifies religious by spiritual trials and interior sufferings a thousand times more grievous; such as dryness, weariness, loathing, sinkings of the heart, spiritual despondency, humiliating temptations, violent and continual, excessive fears of being in mortal sin, terrors about His judgments and fear of reprobation. If, as spiritual books, preachers, directors of souls and good Christians aver, incessant afflictions are necessary for people in the world, and that without them many would be lost; why not say the same on interior crosses without which a multitude of Religious would never arrive at the perfection of their state? Experience shows daily that the most ordinary way by which God conducts the religious whom He most loves is that of greater interior trials; whereas, in regard to seculars who are dear to God, it is by the way of temporal adversity. Therefore we who preach patience, submission and a loving resignation in their troubles to seculars, ought in our own trials to apply the same rule to ourselves that we know so well how to give others. Do not interior crosses come also from God? Are they less mortifying, and, therefore, less salutary? Does God demand less submission from us, and is our patience less pleasing to Him?

7th Principle. By the effect of His merciful wisdom, and to keep His elect in a state of dependence on His grace, in a more complete abandonment to His mercy, and in a state of greater humiliation, God hides from them nearly all the interior operation of His divine Spirit, the holy dispositions He accords them, the good desires He inspires, and the infused virtues with which He has enriched them. And for this purpose what are the means He employs? Let us pause to admire His wisdom and goodness. He makes use of the continuance and violence of temptations, of the trouble they cause in the soul, and the fear of having yielded to them. He hides the great virtues these souls acquire and the great victories they gain by allowing them to suffer slight defeats; and the ardent desire they have to make worthy communions by the fear of having made bad ones, their fervent love of God by their fear of being wanting in love for Him. Whereas they feel the greatest horror at the smallest faults He allows them to be saddened by the continual imperfections they imagine themselves to commit. He permits them to think all their good works badly done, and that they always give way to the first stirrings of all their passions, while, all the time they are gaining the victory.

Nevertheless, as God, in keeping them in this state of humiliation and abandonment, does not wish to deprive them of all consolation and confidence during their trials, He makes known their state to enlightened directors, and if these souls are simple and obedient they may be assured of never being deceived. From the foregoing principles we can easily derive light in the doubts which occasionally assail us as regards communion and the fulfilment of other duties.

First Rule. The fear of communicating should never deter us, especially if our confessor enjoins it. God does not usually allow him to be deceived. Even if that should happen the penitent cannot be deceived in submitting, nor commit sacrilege, because blind obedience given in good faith to a director can never lead us astray in the sight of God. Should these sufferings and temptations become redoubled after communion, instead of preventing the fruit of it, if endured peacefully and with humble resignation united to an abhorrence of evil, it does but increase it. This abhorrence is made sufficiently apparent by the pain and martyrdom these temptations cause, which those who really give way never experience. Books that treat of the effects of communion addressed to the generality of the faithful only speak of the ordinary effects, but there are many particular cases where quite contrary effects are experienced. Then communion produces a much more precious fruit, for, while the vehemence of the temptation increases with a lively sense of weakness, it serves to augment our merit and to develop in our hearts feelings of the most profound humility.

Second Rule. Violent efforts to prepare for Communion are only pleasing to God in principle, but the result is disappointing because the soul becomes troubled and harassed. The intensity of these efforts must be moderated; everything that has to do with God, or the things of God should be done sweetly, tranquilly, and without effort. The best preparation for Holy Communion in this sad state is to endure patiently and with resignation this interior martyrdom. Preserve at any cost the peace in which God dwells and in which He is pleased to work. It is not grace but self-love that makes you keep away from Communion in order to escape the tortures and agonies that the soul endures by God’s permission, to destroy in it this same miserable self-love. Go then without fear and even with a kind of joy to bear these interior operations that are so purifying and so sanctifying. The most wonderful good effects will be experienced eventually; effects that God hides from the soul at the time for its good. Therefore bear yourself as a criminal in His presence, and as a victim of His merciful Justice. This is the best attitude for a soul in this state, adopting any other it would never find peace. This apparent destitution and abandonment has but one aim, which is to increase self-distrust and to compel the soul to cast itself with greater confidence into the arms of God. It sees no other help and even that it cannot see. Faith and faith alone must suffice without any other support. The sensitive part of the soul can do nothing to affect the will, and God expects nothing from it but the free choice of the will which has complete mastery over its acts. The best disavowal of the temptation is the extreme horror of its attacks. No good can be attained by making a multitude of acts, these would only serve to trouble and fatigue the soul. It had best keep to the following act which comprises all that is required of it. “Lord, You are all-powerful and goodness itself, it is for You to defend me and to preserve me from all evil, that is beyond my power. I accept this suffering for love of You, only keep me from all sin.” Afterwards let it remain in peace in the midst of the storm. It will find itself strengthened without knowing how by the hidden hand of God.

Third Rule. The fact of being incapable of sustained thought, or of producing acts in prayer need not sadden the soul; for the best part of prayer and the essential part is the wish to make it well. The intention is everything in God’s sight either for good or evil; now this desire it has to the extreme of anxiety – therefore it is only too keen, and has to be moderated. The soul must be kept peaceful during prayer and end prayer in peace. Instead of making so many resolutions let it be content to say: “My God make me perform such and such a good action, avoid such and such a bad one, because I am unable of myself to do anything. I feel my weakness too much, and my past experience teaches me that without You I can do nothing, and that if You do not act in me by the power of Your grace nothing will be effected.” For directing the intention the soul abandoned to God need not make many acts, neither is it obliged to express them in words. The best thing for it is to be content to feel and to know that it is acting for God in the simplicity of its heart. This is making good interior acts; they are made simply by the impulsion of the heart without any outward expression, almost without thinking; just as worldly people without avowing it have but one end in everything – which is the satisfaction of their sensuality, their avarice, or their pride; God seeing their intention which is hidden in their own hearts will punish them for it. The chief principle of the spiritual life is to do everything, interior as well as exterior, peacefully, gently, sweetly, as Saint Francis of Sales so often recommends. The moment we desire to form an act, it is already formed and held as accomplished, because God sees all our desires, even the first movement of the heart. Our desires, says Bossuet, are, with regard to God, what the voice is with regard to men, and a cry from the depths of the heart, even unuttered, is of the same value as a cry sent up to Heaven. For the rest, all the acts made in a state of the greatest aridity are usually better and more meritorious than those that are accompanied by sensible devotion. Forebodings about the future should not be indulged in except with due submission and resignation to the holy will of God, and this practice ought to have for aim, not so much the making of formal acts as the keeping of our hearts in a certain habitual state of readiness by which it seems to say to God every moment and in every circumstance, “Fiat, fiat! Yes, I desire and accept all, only preserve me from all sin. Yes, my heavenly Father, always, yes.” This “Yes,” uttered with all the heart contains the greatest acts, and expresses the greatest sacrifices.

Prayer of the Rev. Father de Caussade to obtain holy abandonment to the divine will

Oh my God when will it please You to give me the grace to remain habitually in this union of my will with Your adorable will, in which, without uttering a word all is said, in which all is accomplished by allowing You to act, in which one’s only occupation is that of conforming more and more entirely to Your good pleasure; in which, nevertheless, one is saved all trouble since the care of all things is confided to You, and to repose in You is the only desire of one’s heart? Delightful state, which, even in the absence of all sensible faith, affords the soul an interior joy altogether spiritual. I desire to repeat without ceasing by this habitual disposition of my heart, “Fiat,” yes, my God, yes, all that You please, may Your holy will be done in all things. I renounce my own will which is very blind, perverse, and corrupt in consequence of its wretched self-love, the mortal enemy of Your grace, of Your pure love, of Your glory, and of my own sanctification.

Prayer to be said in temptation

Oh my God! preserve me by Your grace from all sin, but as for the pain by which my self-love is put to death, and the humiliations which crucify my pride, I accept them with all my heart; not so much because they are the effects of your justice, but as benefits of your great mercy. Have pity on me then, dear Saviour, and help me.