By Francois Fenelon
The best rule we can ever adopt, is to receive equally, and with the same submission, everything that God sends us during the day, both within and without.
Without, there are things disagreeable that must be met with courage, and things pleasant that must not be suffered to arrest our affections. We resist the temptations of the former by accepting them at once, and of the latter by refusing to admit them into our hearts. The same curse is necessary in regard to the interior life; whatever is bitter serves to crucify us, and works all its benefit in the soul, if we receive it simply, with a willingness that knows no bounds, and a readiness that seeks no alleviation.
Pleasant gifts, which are intended to support our weakness by giving us a sensible consolation in our external acts, must be accepted with equal satisfaction, but in a different way. They must be received, because God sends them, and not because they are agreeable to our own feelings; they are to be used, like any other medicine, without self-complacency, without attachment to them, and without appropriation. We must accept them, but not hold on to them; so that when God sees fit to withdraw them, we may neither be dejected nor discouraged.
The source presumption lies in attachment to these transitory and sensible gifts. We imagine we have no regard to anything but the gift of God, while we are really looking to self, appropriating his mercy and mistaking it for Him. And thus we become discouraged whenever we find that we have been deceived in ourselves; the soul, however, that is sustained upon God, is not surprised at its own misery; it is delighted to find new proof that it can do nothing of itself, and that God must do everything. I am never in the least troubled at being poor, when I know that my Father has infinite treasures which He will give me. We shall soon become independent of trust in ourselves, if we suffer our hearts to feed upon absolute confidence in God.
We must count less upon sensible delights and the measures of wisdom which devise for our own perfection, than upon simplicity, lowliness, renunciation of our own efforts, and perfect pliability to all the designs of grace. Everything else tends to emblazon our virtues, and thus inspire a secret reliance upon our own resources.
Let us pray God that he would root out of our hearts everything of our own planting, and set out there, with his own hands, the tree of life, bearing all manner of fruits.