Do it as you can and as God will permit you to do it

Jean de Bernières, a pious layman, was the most widely read spiritual author of the 17th century and an intimate friend of Mother Mectilde of the Blessed Sacrament. From his hermitage, a kind of hospital for souls in need of spiritual convalescence, Jean de Bernière writes to Mother Mectilde on 14 February 1651:

With regard to your interior, do not be undone by the afflictions of the spirit and the sufferings that you bear amidst the troubles and business that your office gives you, because these are the troubles and business of obedience. By bearing them with a little fidelity, they will produce in your soul “a great prayer” (une grande oraison) that God will give you when it will please Him. Be the victim of His good pleasure, and let Him act. When He wishes to build great perfection in a soul, He demolishes it altogether; the state you are in is very difficult, I admit, but it is very pure. Do not torment yourself about your prayer (oraison). Do it as you can and as God will permit you to do it, and it is enough. You think about uplifting unions and mystical repose, but these are not worth the pure suffering that is yours when you have, it seems to me, neither divine nor human consolation. I cannot approve that you should come out from beneath your cross, insofar as I desire pure fidelity to grace for you, and have no desire to come down to the level of nature. Do what you can for the affairs of your community. If your efforts are successful, so much the better; if they are not, have patience. You will at least have had this admirable success of dying to everything. If like Mother Benoîte, you were a rank and file religious, you might be able to withdraw into some corner, but it is needful that a captain die at the head of his company, otherwise he is a coward. It is easier to give others counsel than to practice it oneself. God will not deny you His graces . . .  Courage, my dear sister, the worst that can befall you is to die under the laws of obedience and the order of God. To God, to God, I am, with all my heart, my dear sister, your very humble, obedient, brother John the hermit, “of the Poor Jesus” the name taken when I renounced all my goods.

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