If we have lost peace of heart, we need
to do everything possible to recover it. Thus you must know that no
event possible in this world can justify losing or even disturbing
peace of heart. It is true that we must regret our sins, but with a
peaceful sorrow in the manner that I have shown above in several
places. When disquiet is absent from one's spirit, one can with the
pious affection of charity pity every other sinner; and can weep for
one's sin, at least interiorly.
As for other important and wearisome events, such as infirmity, wounds,
the deaths of our closest relatives, plagues, wars, fires and similar
evils: it is true that worldly people resist them as troublesome to
human nature. Nevertheless, with divine grace we can not only desire
them, but beyond this we can hold them dear as just penalties for the
wicked and even as occasions of virtue for the good. Our Lord God
pleases [to send them] for these very reasons, and if we second his
will, we will pass with a quiet and tranquil spirit through all the
bitterness and and setbacks of this life. And take certainty also that
our every disquiet is displeasing to his divine eyes, regardless of its
source, because disquiet is always accompanied by imperfection, and it
always proceeds from some wicked root of self-love.
For this reason, keep a guard ever ready. As soon as it discovers
something that can disturb and disquiet you, it will warn you to take
up arms in your defense. This weapon will be the consideration that all those evils, and many others similar
to them, are not true evils, nor can they take away true goods,
regardless of their external appearance.
Keep in mind that God
ordains or permits all things for the above-mentioned right ends, or
for others unknown to us, but doubtless very just and holy. So, when
the spirit remains tranquil and peaceful regardless of the event, no
matter how damaging, one can do much good; otherwise, any exercise
bears little or no fruit.
In addition, it needs to be said that while the heart is disquieted, it
remains exposed to the various blows of the enemy; in addition, we
cannot make out the right path and the secure way of virtue while we
remain in such a state.
This peace serves as the place where the spirit of God resides to
perform great things. Our enemy abhors this very much, and often
employs a friendly flag in his attempt to dislodge it, making use of
various desires that have the appearance of good. However, one can
recognize their deceptive nature by the fact that they take away the
quiet in our heart (and other signs besides). When the sentinel warns
you of each new desire, besides taking refuge from a great deal of
damage, you should not open the door of your heart unless you first
present it to God free from every sense of ownership and desire.
Confessing your blindness and ignorance, pray insistently that he make
you see with his light if it comes from him or from the adversary. When
you can, take recourse in the judgment of your spiritual father as well.
Now, suppose this desire should come from God. Before realizing this
desire, try to mortify your excessive zeal. When preceded by such a
mortification, the task will certainly be more pleasing to him than if
it were done with the eagerness of nature. Indeed, many times this
mortification will please him more than the task itself. Thus, by
removing from yourself those desires that are not good, and by not
effecting even the good desires unless you have first repressed any
natural influences, you will hold the fortress of your heart in peace
and and security.
To maintain it completely peaceful, you also need to defend and keep it
from certain interior reproaches and remorses made against yourself. On
many occasions, these are from the demon, although they seem to come
from God because they accuse you of some failing. By their fruits, you will know their origin:
If they humble
you, then they make you diligent in doing good and they do not take
away your confidence in God, from whom you should receive them with
thanksgiving. But if they confuse you and make you cowardly,
distrustful, lazy and slow to do good, you can be certain that they
come from the adversary. You must not heed them; continue your exercise.
Beyond that which I have told you, disquiet is more commonly born in
our heart on account of things that oppose it. For this, you have two
courses of action.
One course of action consists in considering and seeing what those
actions contradict: the spirit, self-love, or our own wants. If they
contradict our own wants and self-love — your foremost and
principal enemy — you must not name them your opponents. Rather,
you must consider them favors and helps from the most high God, and you
must receive them with a joyful heart and with thanksgiving. If instead
they be contrary to the spirit, you must not lose your peace of heart
for this. I will acquaint you with this more thoroughly in the
The other course of action consists in raising the mind to God,
accepting everything with closed eyes, without desiring to know
anything else. Raise these things to God as if they come from the
merciful hand of divine Providence, full of various goods, which you do
not for the moment recognize.