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Just the other day someone suffering from scrupulosity wrote me, asking for counsel. Reading through the Letters of Saint John of Avila, our new Doctor of the Church, I came upon this consoling text. I want to share it with the readers of Vultus Christi. The headings are my own.
Trust in the Love of God
It is very plain, my dear, that you cannot bear being put to the test, nor have you yet emerged from spiritual childhood, for when your heavenly Bridegroom ceases to smile on you, you immediately imagine He is displeased with you. Where are the signal favours which you received from His blessed Hand as a pledge of His special love for you? Ought you so soon to forget how He has cherished you? Or to believe that God would lightly withdraw affection He bestowed so fully? Why did He grant so many proofs of it, if not to make you trust Him?
Excessive Sadness: Not the Way to Go
Be assured that He loves you, even if He does not show it at the present moment. You need not fear deception on this point, for, as I have often told you, our love for God should not cause us excessive sadness whenever we commit some venial sin. If this were necessary, who would ever be at rest or peace, for we are all sinners? May our Lord give you grace to lean on Him and rejoice in Him, placing your wounds in His, that you may be healed and comforted, however violent
and painful your hurt may be.
Raking Up a Dust Heap
How long will you continue your minute self-examinations? It is like raking up a dust heap from which nothing can come but rubbish and unpleasantness. Feel sure of this, that it
is not for your own merits, but for those of Jesus crucified, that you are loved and made
whole. Do not give way to such discouragement about your faults, the results will show
you how displeasing it is to God. It would be far better to be courageous and strong-hearted. Meditate on the benefits you have received through Jesus Christ in the past and possess now; reflect on them in such a manner as to lead you to sorrow for your sins against Him and to avoid offending Him, without losing your peace and patience if you happen to fall.
God Loves You Because He Is Good, Not Because You Are
As I have often repeated, God loves you as you are. Be content that His love should come from His goodness, and not from your merits. What does it matter to a bride if she is not beautiful, if the bridegroom s affection for her makes her seem so in his eyes? If you look only on yourself, you will loathe yourself and your many defects will take away all your courage.
He Looks at You Through the Apertures of His Wounds
What more have you to wish for? In heaven there is One to Whom you appear all fair, for
He looks at you through the apertures of the Wounds He received for you: by these He
gives you grace, and supplies what is lacking in you, healing you and making you lovely.
Be at peace : you are indeed the handmaid of the crucified Christ: forget your past misdoings as if they had never been. I tell you, in God’s name, as I have done before, that such is His holy will.
Do Not DIstress Yourself
Run swiftly on your way with a light foot, like one who has thrown a heavy burden off his shoulders, which hindered his course. If the longed-for quiet does not come at once, do not distress yourself; sometimes one travels farther in a storm than in a calm, and war gains more merits than peace. He Who redeemed you will guide you aright so that you may be safe. Trust in Him; He has given you many reasons to do so; and when
you consider your own defects, consider also the depths of His mercy which will help you far more than thinking about your deficiencies.
Sheltered Beneath God’s Everlasting Love
May God s mercy shelter you beneath His everlasting love, as I desire, and pray, and trust
that it may, and for this I bid you hope. Recommend me to the same Lord for the sake
of His love.