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The Spiritual Letters of Venerable Francis Libermann

Fr. Francis Libermann (1802-1852) the convert Jew from Saverne, France, was an unlikely choice to guide others in the way of Christian living. As a failed seminarian and epileptic living off the charity of others, he sought only the consolation of God's love. His brokenness lived with gentle serenity inspired those who knew him at the Seminary of St. Sulpice, Paris. Many would seek him out for spiritual advice, consolation and encouragement. Read more

Fr. Walter van der Putte, C.S.Sp., edited and translated four hundred and forty-one of these letters for publication in five volumes of the Duquesne Studies, Spiritan Series (1962-1966). They constitute a correspondence to seventy-four lay people, clergy and religious. In some cases, there is only one letter; in others, there are many more.

Each correspondent is on his or her particular journey of discipleship and looks to Libermann to help them discern the Spirit of God at work in their lives. This he does with consummate skill and great devotion. As you read on you will draw closer to the spiritual treasure the letters contain and find in them a wisdom and consolation to accompany you in your way of Christian discipleship.

Spiritual Letters of The Venerable Francis Libermann.  Volume 1: Spiritual Letters to Sisters and Aspirants (Nos. 1 to 90). Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press: 1963

1. Louise des Loges: Trust in God and you will not be disappointed

Begin reading with Louise des Loges, one of five girls who heard God's call to serve in the new apostolate to the much-neglected peoples of the French colonies and along the West Coast of Africa. She consulted Fr. Tisserant, a member of Fr. Libermann's Holy Heart of Mary Congregation, about her missionary vocation. Following Fr. Libermann's advice Louise entered the Institute of the Immaculate Conception of Castres, a Society dedicated to the new mission outreach. She took the name of Sister Aurelia.          Read more

Read the nine letters Fr. Libermann wrote to Louise des Loges between 1842 and 1844 offering her encouragement to follow the call she had experienced.  Pgs 1-32

2. Rose Lapique (Sister Paule): Allowing God's grace to work in us

Rose, like Louise, also wanted to give herself totally to God in the service of those most in need through the new missionary outreach of the time of which Libermann was a leader. She sought direction from him. He outlined a daily timetable for her as she considered joining the Blue Nuns of Castres.   Read more

Read the six letters Fr. Libermann wrote to Rose Lapique between 1842 and 1847 both before she entered the convent and while in the convent preparing to go on mission to West Africa. Pgs 33-43

3.   Letters to Missionary Sisters:    Preparing for Mission

Libermann wrote three of these letters to Sr. Aloysia. The other is written jointly to the four sisters at Castres (Paule, Aurelia, Aloysia, and Cecile) preparing to go on mission to Guinea, West Africa where, Libermann warns them, they will encounter many trials and difficulties. They are not to be in a hurry, but rather, take care to prepare themselves well for the challenge ahead of them.  Read more

Read the four letters to Missionary Sisters  written beteween 1844 and 1847 while the recipients were preparing themselves for the West African mission of Guinea, Pgs 44-51

4.   Mother Marie De Villeneuve:    A Saint Rebuked

Mother Marie founded the diocesan congregation of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (the "Blue Nuns") at Castres in 1836 to "go where the voice of the poor calls us." Fr. Libermann's first communication with Mother Marie was in relation to the missionary vocation of Sisters Paule, Aurelia, Aloysia, and Cecile (see correspondence above) who were among the first sisters to open a convent in Africa, at Dakar, in 1849.  Read more

Read the 19 letters to Mother Marie, St. Jeanne-Emilie de Villeneuve. Pgs 52-132

5. Jenny Guillarme: Discernment of Spirits

Jenny Guillarme who had left the convent, became a seamstress and was resolved to live a saintly life. Well known as a holy person in Paris she was associated with the recovering and restoring of the medieval relic of Christ's Holy Tunic of Argenteuil. She was member of a Saint Sulpice prayer group and sought direction from many priests. She corresponded with Fr. Louis Marie Caverot who later became bishop of Saint-Dié in 1849, and Cardinal Archbishop of Lyon in 1876.
The introduction to the letters tells us "her imprudence and indiscretion had frightened off several priests who had tried to direct her soul." Libermann's 19 letters written over two years (1843 - 1845) offered Jenny sure guidance. In his direction, he focuses on discerning the working of God's Spirit in her life. Sensitive to the interior movements of Jenny's soul - thoughts, imaginings, emotions, inclinations, desires, feelings, repulsions, and attractions - he helped her to reflect on them, understand where they came from and where they were leading her. Read more

Read the 16 letters to Jenny Guillarme. Pgs 133-184

6. Pauline Libermann (1824-1891): from Honey to Pepper

Thirteen letters between a beloved uncle and a devoted niece comprise this correspondence between Fr. Libermann and his niece, Pauline, eldest daughter of Libermann's brother, Samson. The correspondence begins with an indulgent uncle's encouragement when Pauline was 12 years of age and extending to three months before Libermann's death in 1852 with a letter challenging Pauline to be grateful to God for the blessings she has received in living her religious vocation and never to doubt God's abiding love for her. Read more

Read the 13 letters to Pauline Libermann (Sr. Leopold). Pg 199-232

Spiritual Letters of the Venerable Francis Libermann.  Volume 2: Letters to People in the World.  Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press: 1963.

7. Dr. and Mrs. Samson Libermann: Brother writing to Brother

Fr. Van de Putte, C.S.Sp. introduced this selection of 45 letters written from 1828 to 1847: "Venerable Francis Libermann practiced and preached great detachment from creatures, but he also knew how to love them in God. He thus preserved always a strong attachment to his eldest brother, Samson, and his sister-in-law."  Read more

Read the 45 letters to his Brother and Sister-in-Law. Pgs 1-176

8. Marie Libermann: Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Twenty-one letters between Fr. Libermann and his niece and goddaughter, Marie, began in December 1838 when she was nine years of age and continued up to November 1851. Marie considered a religious vocation but never joined a convent. Rather, she lived an intentionally Christian life "in the world."  This was difficult for her, in her adolescence and early adult years as her vivid imagination distracted her from this focus. Fr. Libermann counselled Marie in different letters to deal with this by (1) having a strong desire to belong to God; (2) surrendering herself to God; (3) living joyfully without being overconcerned about herself - "laugh when you feel like laughing"; (4)  trusting in the Lord - "who is hidden among us on earth for the sole purpose of filling us with himself"; (5) patience - "abandon yourself completely into God's hands."  Marie died (from typhoid fever) seven years after her uncle  in Paris in 1859. Read more

Read the 21 letters to from Godfather to Goddaughter. Pgs 180-246

9. Madame Victor Rémond: The Unrecognized Director

Madame Rémond, a wife, mother and teacher from Lyons wrote to the seminarian Francis Libermann on the recommendation of her brother, Father de Goy who had Libermann as his spiritual director when he was at Issy. He introduced his sister to Libermann who responded, "Let the lady write to me, and if I see that it is the spirit of the Lord who is guiding her, I will reply." Read more

Read the six letters to Madame Rémond. Pgs 273-285

Spiritual Letters of the Venerable Francis Libermann.  Volume 3: Letters to Clergy and Religious (Nos. 1 to 75).  Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press: 1963.

10. François Lieven: A Cry for Help

The Deacon François Lieven suffered a debilitating illness preventing him from ordination. He turned to the Acolyte, Francis Libermann for consolation and encouragement. They corresponded for three years until Francois' death in 1837. Read more

Read the five letters to François Lieven. Pgs 1-17

11. Eugene Dupont: Discerning a Vocation

The Seminarian Eugene Dupont felt attracted to missionary work. He consulted Francis Libermann who was in Rome at the time seeking approval for his missionary congregation, the Holy Heart of Mary. Nineteen letters of Libermann's direction spanning from August 1840 to April 1844 demonstrate the importance of patience in discerning God's will. Dupont was ordained for the Archdiocese of Rouen. Read more

Read the ten letters to Eugene Dupont. Pgs 18-138

12. Francis Xavier Libermann: Quieting a Troubled Mind

Fr. Libermann's nephew, Francis Xavier, looked to his uncle for advice on his missionary vocation. He joined his uncle's congregation and made his Consecration to the Apostolate a year after Libermann's death. He lived a further fifty-four years as a Spiritan.  Read more

Read the five letters to Francis Xavier Libermann. Pgs 139-164

13. Fr. Jean Bessieux: The Patience a Missionary Needs

Jean Remi Bessieux (1803-1876) was one of two survivors of the ill-fated group sent to West Africa by Libermann in 1843. In 1848, he became Vicar Apostolic of ‘The Two Guineas'. He died in Gabon in 1876. These four letters, written between May 1845 and September 1846. These letters render advice on how to live as a missionary. Read more

Read the four letters to Fr. Jean Bessieux.  Pgs 165-176

14. Fr. Jacques Laval: Discerning and following God's Plan

Jacques Laval (1803-1864) was a doctor in France who then became a priest. He then joined Libermann's congregation to serve the former slaves of Mauritius in 1841. He remained there until his death in 1864. Venerated by Hindu, Muslim, and Christian alike, Fr. Jacques Laval was the first Spiritan to be beatified in 1979. Read more

Read the four letters to Fr. Jacques Laval.  Pgs 177-186

15. Fr. Thiersé and Fr. Thévaux: Solidarity in Mission

Both François Thiersé and François Thévaux left Libermann's novitiate for Australia in 1845. Three years later, they took up assignments to Mauritius. The four letters in this collection (1846 - 1851) speak to their missionary experience in Australia and their transitioning to Mauritius. Read more

Read the four letters to Fr. thierse and Fr. Thevaux. Pages 187-197

16. Antoine Durand: Courage and Perserverance

One letter written to a missionary "suffering all sorts of painful emotions at the moment of your departure" [for the African Mission].

Read the one letters to Antoine Durand.  Pgs 198-199

17. Bishop Etienne Truffet: The Strength that Comes from Within

Etienne Truffet was ordained in 1835 and entered Fr. Libermann's novitiate in 1846. In December of that year, he became Vicar Apostolic of the Two Guineas and arrived at Dakar in May 1847. He died six months later. Libermann wrote to him on June 7 and November 22 (the day before he died). Read more

Read the two letters to Bishop etienne Truffet.  Pgs 200-209

18. Fr. Ernest Briot: The Missio Dei

Ernest Briot entered Libermann's novitiate in 1843. He worked for a short time in the vicariate of the Two Guineas. The first letter was written before he joined the novitiate; the second, as he prepared to depart on mission; the following two letters when he was in Dakar. Read more

Read the two letters to Fr. Ernest Briot. Pgs 210-225

19. Fr.  Pierre Le Berre: Respect for Others

Pierre Marie Le Berre was ordained a priest in 1844 and entered Libermann's novitiate the following year. He travelled to Africa in 1846 and remained in Gabon until 1891 when he died. Read more

Read the letters to Fr. Pierre Le Berre. Pgs 226-231

20. Fr. Claude Chevalier: Be a patient Educator

One letter written to a missionary who is to "avoid premature enthusiasm" and who is to "Study, penetrate deeply into the character, the mentality and the fundamental attitude" of the students he is to teach.

Read the letter to Fr. Claude Chevalier. Pgs 232-234

21. Fr. Prosper Lamber: God gives the increase

Missionaries "are sowers of the Divine Word but it is God who causes that sacred seed to bear fruit."

Read the letter to Fr. Prosper Lamber. Pgs 235-237

22. Fr. François Joseph Baud: God wounds my heart and I kiss his hand

A letter of sympathy on the death of a missionary who is "always ready to make any sacrifice, even the sacrifice of himself, out of love for anything that his Heavenly Father might desire."

Read the letter to Fr. Francois Joseph Baud. Pgs 238-240

23. The Community of Cape Palmas (Liberia): Be patient with one another and rejoice together

Missionaries are to "Rest awhile when you face obstacles that you are unable to overcome. Wait for ‘God's own time' full of confidence, and be faithful when that moment arrives."

Read the letter to the Community of Cape Palmas. Pgs 241-245

24. The Brothers of Réunion (Indian Ocean): The Congregation is a tree with many branches

Libermann rejoices that the congregation "has brought forth a small branch that promises to produce fruits of salvation and sanctification" with the opening of a Brothers' novitiate in Réunion.

Read the letter to the Brothers of Reunion. Pgs 246-248

25. Brother Pierre Mersy: Be Faithful to Our Lord

Advice for all missionaries, "Watch over yourself ... Be on your guard never to remain idle ... Make a rule for yourself for the whole day and be faithful to it."

Read the letter to Brother Pierre Mersy. Pgs 249-250

26. Brother Auguste Pagnier: Prepare your soul

A word of consolation for one who is dying, "The moment of eternal bliss is coming closer. The nuptials with the Lamb without stain are approaching, but the preparations for the feast demand labor and pain."

Read the letter to Brother Auguste Pagnier. Pgs 251-253

27. Fr. Jean Baptiste François: Do not nurse regrets

The missionary belongs entirely to God and so, "Sacrifice yourself constantly, especially in your interior: sacrifice your desires, sentiments, your affections, your ideas, and your own will; in a word, all that is in you."

Read the letter to Fr. Jean Baptiste Francois. Pgs 254-258

28. Fr. Henry Warlop: Do not cling too much to your own ideas

Strong emotions and imagination can wreck a missionary's perspective on things. The remedy is "to weigh things well before making decisions and before allowing yourself to be carried away."

Read the letter to Fr. Henry Warlop. Pgs 259-267

29. Fr. Pierre Logier: God has chosen you

The missionary vocation is one of offering oneself entirely to God. "Keep yourself at peace, be happy because you have placed yourself at the disposal of the Divine Master to do with you whatever he wants."

Read the letter to Fr. Pierre Logier. Pgs 268-269

30. Fr. Martin Duby: Think before you act

Missionaries make many mistakes but "avoid worrying about it and put all your confidence in God, in Jesus, and in Mary."

Read the letter to Fr. Martin Duby. Pgs 270-273

31. Fr. Charles Lairé: Walk humbly with your people

Missionary are to bear Christian witness through how they live. "The Africans do not need and will not be converted by the efforts of clever and capable missionaries. It is holiness and the sacrifice of their priests that will be the instrument of their salvation."

Read the letter to Fr. Charles Laire.  Pgs 274-277

32. Fr. Jean Claude Duret: The Apostolate of Presence

The missionary's presence in a particular place is a preparation for listening to the Good News. "The people in this place [Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast] are not yet well-disposed for the reception of the seed of the Gospel, but your presence among them will soften them in cooperation with the grace and mercy of God."

Read the Letter to Fr. Jean Claude Duret. Pgs 278-281

33. Fr. René Jean Guilmin: God is watching over you

Blessings come into a missionary's life disguised as crosses. "The blessings the Lord ours out on your labors are the beginning of his gifts. The crosses are contradictions He mingles with them as salt on food; they keep us in a spirit of humility and abandonment to God."

Read the letter to Fr. Rene Jean Guilmin. Pgs 282-285

34. Fr. Jerome Gravière: Authority is both firm and gentle

The superior of the community exercises care when he has difficulties with a particular member. "Take into account his weakness and imperfection; handle him so as not to hurt his pride; avoid, as muh as possible, any friction, disputes and even discussions."

Read the letter to Fr. Jerome Graviere. Pgs 286-292

35. Fr. Jean Vaugeois: Beware of being over-active

When the religious spirit is over run by activity, problems arise. "I'm afraid that your ministry has caused you to launch yourself too freely into the world. This activity make have been prompted by zeal but it is also possible that other motives might be mixed up with it."

Read the letter to Fr. Jean Vaugeois.Pgs 293-300

36. Fr. Joseph Bourget: Take the beam out of your own eye first

Some criticism levelled against those in authority is the result of an "overheated imagination". "Let us pass judgment on ourselves instead of judging our superiors ... Avoid imitating those who see motes in the eyes of others and fail to see the beam in their own eye."

Read the letter to Fr. Joseph Bourget. Pgs 301-304

37. Bishop Aloyse Kobès: Religious life is the indispensable means for mission

Missionaries risk exaggerating the importance of what they do, rather than who they are. If they are not living religious lives, "they will accomplish nothing because God's blessing is attached to their holiness and their holiness depends solely on their fidelity to the practices of the religious life."

Read the letters to Bishop Aloyse Kobès.  Pgs 305-322

Spiritual Letters of the Venerable Francis Libermann.  Volume 4: Letters to Clergy and Religious (Nos. 76 to 184) Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press: 1964.

38. Eugene Viot: Do not become a prey to illusions

Libermann began his spiritual direction by letter in October 1828, only two years after his conversion. The recipient Eugene Viot was a seminarian at St. Sulpice and a friend to Libermann. He provided the seven letters (from 1828 to 1833) six years after Libermann's death describing them as "precious relics of my dear friend." Read more

Read the letters Eugene Viot. Pgs 1 - 22

39. Mr. Delasorne: Do not waste your time on trifles

Delasorne, like Viot was a companion to Libermann at St. Sulpice. These four letters (from 1835 to 1838) stimulate the reader to be on guard against "that laziness an indifference into which we so easily fall when nothing stimulates and prompts us to serve God properly." The antidote to such waywardness is to live a truly interior life that Libermann describes as "an abyss that must swallow u all that exists in us." Read more

Read the letters to Mr. Delasorne.  Pgs 23-34

40. Guy Leray: Remain before God as a Beggar

These twelve letters written from 1834 to 1838 encourage the reader not to worry about natural desires. "Our wicked flesh is always with us; why should we desire not to feel its sting? Would our nature be better for that? So let us not fear the flesh, for the Lord will conquer it."  Read more

Read the 12 letters to Guy Leray. Pgs 35-80

41. Mr. Boulanger: Rules for the interior life

Here are two letters written in the summer of 1835 to a seminarian of St. Sulpice following the death of his mother. Libermann proposes "certain rules that you ought to observe for your interior life." Read more

Read the two letters to Mr. Boulanger.  Pgs 81-96

42. Fr. Francis Telles: Abandon yourself to God's Will

These eight letters to Fr. Telles, written between August 1836 and May 1839 while he was bursar of the Sulpician Seminary of Issy, focus on the need for patience with oneself in God's service. "We must undoubtedly do the best we can, but without torturing ourselves or being continually on the watch." Read more

Read the eight letters to  Fr. Francis Telles.  Pgs 97-124

43. Fr. Mangot: God takes care of those who sincerely seek Him

Nine letters written between 1836 and 1845 span Fr. Mangot's seminary days and his first years as a priest. Writing in 1878, he expressed how these letters were a treasure trove to him. "They are a relic which I prefer to any other ... I have merely to read them and I find refreshment amidst life's tribulations." Read more

Read the nine letters to Fr. Mangot.  Pgs 125-165

44. Antoine Beluet: Beware of self-love

Four letters written from August 1835 to August 1836, while Antoine was a seminarian, were part of a cherished spiritual friendship. Writing some seventeen years after Libermann's death Beluet remembered that when Libermann "explained the Gospel for which he had a very particular liking, we said to one another what was once said by the disciples of Emmaus, ‘Was not our heart burning within us while he spoke?'"  Read more

Read the four letters to Antoine Beluet.  Pgs 166-181

45. Mr. Fréret: Be united with God in everything

One letter written in September 1831 to this seminarian at St. Sulpice called for strong resolutions. "What a treasure this interior life is! What happiness, not only in its possession, but also in working at its acquisition! But we must act earnestly, and not go at it in a half-hearted way."

Read the one letter to Mr. Fréret.  Pgs 182-186

46. Paul Carron: Be not pre-occupied with yourself

Thirty-four letters, written between 1836 and 1842 to Paul Carron, a seminarian at St. Sulpice. Shortly after his ordination, he became secretary to the Archbishop of Paris. A recurring theme is the attitude of humility necessary for a mature spiritual life. "Let us be and remain nothing before Him, so that He may operate with this ‘nothing' according to His incomparable good pleasure." Read more

Read the 34 letters to Paul Carron.  Pgs 187-304

47. Fr. Jules Cahier: Finding value in suffering

Fr. Cahier suffered a number of debilitating illnesses and Libermann's seventeen letters written between 1837 and 1845 provided him with much needed encouragement and Christian insight into human suffering. Read more

Read the 17 letters to Fr. Jules Cahier.  Pgs 305-362

48. Fr. Grillard: Living continually in God's presence

Fr. Grillard, a Sulpician priest, was a seminarian at St. Sulpice along with Libermann. Remembering him he wrote, "He did not lose sight of the presence of God, for he was always recollected and modest." Read more

Read the four letters to Fr. Grillard.  Pgs 363-380

49. Mr. de Conny, Seminarian: Keep it simple!

Seven letters written in a little over a year (from February 1838 to May 1839) to encourage the reader to overcome his faults and progress on the path to holiness.

"Accustom yourself, dear friend, to offer God all your actions and to perform them solely out of love for Him. In all this, do not seek to feel the effects of that love, but simply to reserve this habitual will, frequently repeating and renewing that intention, but gently and peacefully."

Read the seven letters to Mr. de Conny.  Pgs 381-406

50. Mr. Hacquin, Seminarian: Leave the past in the past

One letter written in May 1838 to encourage the reader not to dwell on his failings in the past. "Don't worry about the past. Instead, put your whole confidence, your joy and love in Him who calls you to such great things and bestows upon you such great favors."

Read the letter to Mr. Hacquin.  Pgs 407-411

51. Mr. Richaud, Seminarian: Keep calm and trust in the Lord

One letter written in February 1839 encouraging patience. "Be content and remain in great joy, because it pleases the divine Spirit to breathe in your soul and to vivify it in this way ... Wait for God's own good time, and do not seek to anticipate it ... Be content with what God is pleased to grant you."

Read the letter to Mr. Richaud.  Pgs 412-417

Spiritual Letters of the Venerable Francis Libermann.  Volume 5: Letters to Clergy and Religious (Nos. 185 to 274).  Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press: 1966.

52. Frederic Le Vavasseur: Discern God's designs for you

These fifteen letters written between 1838 and 1847 document a spiritual journey of one of Libermann's closest collaborators in establishing his congregation. These letters tell of a fiery temperament and one who is prone to being discouraged at weakness in himself and failure in others. Read more

Read the 15 letters to Frederic Le Vavasseur.  Pgs 1-64

53. Eugene Tisserant: Be humble in all that you do

Ten letters written between 1837 and 1842 from Libermann to Tisserant, who, with Le Vavasseur, was instrumental in founding "the mission to the blacks". Libermann counsels against self-confidence. "Be docile and humble in God's sight; in your own small way and in all humility fill yourself with the desire of pleasing Him. Don't presumptuously aim at high things, but be satisfied with dragging yourself before the divine Master in all your poverty with the intention of being agreeable to Him in all things."  Read more

Read the ten letters to Eugene Tisserant.  Pgs 65-103

54. Ignatius Schwindenhammer: Patience in God's unfolding plan

Six letters written between 1842 and 1851 to the one Libermann would designate to succeed him as congregation leader. The Holy Spirit and not our personal activity is the source of holiness. "We ought always to follow the promptings of the divine Spirit who dwells in us ... The divine Spirit wants to be the soul of our soul, and we should let Him be absolute master over it, enabling Him to communicate to it His life and action. We should allow Him to act in us just as our body allows itself to be activated by the soul."  Read more

Read the six letters to Ignatius Schwindenhammer.  Pgs 104-124

55. Jerome Schwindenhammer: I want to tell you something about myself

Four letters written between 1846 and 1851 cautions Libermann's young protégé "Do not put your confidence in my words, in my direction of your soul, but seek to obey God alone and to follow His guidance." Read more

Read the four letters to Jerome Schwindenhammer.  Pgs 125-136

56. Louis Marie Lannurien: How to discern a vocation

Seven letters written between October 1841 and March 1843 gives advice on the discernment of a missionary vocation. "I believe that we should give your inclination to our holy work a chance to mature. When a farmer casts a seed in the ground, the one who will do the harvesting does not quickly pull out the young shoot that appears above the ground; he waits until there are flowers and fruit."  Read more

Read the seven letters to Louis Marie Lannurien.  Pgs 137-165

57. Etienne Clair: Beware of self-love

Thirteen letters written between 1839 and 1847 warn against self-love and acting "like a child who wants categorically and absolutely to get the things he happens to see." Libermann writes strong words to re-align the reader to God's will. "See God in everything and see Him alone, forgetting yourself more and more. Never desire praise nor have any esteem for yourself. Avoid also self-pity and self-complacency." Read more

Read the 13 letters to Etienne Clair.  Pgs 166-210

58. Fr. Marcellin Collin: Don't worry too much about yourself

Ten letters written between 1843 and 1851 gently guide the reader from being pre-occupied with himself to abandoning himself to God's will. The best way to deal with personal faults is "to drag ourselves before the feet of our good Master and put our entire confidence in Him." Excessive introspection weighs down the soul. Libermann advises, "Continue to march toward the goal to which the Master guides your step. March on and don't pay too much attention to sorrows and tribulations."

Marcellin is not to fear punishment for doing wrong. "Always consider Jesus merciful rather than severe ... Avoid rigidity, try to be gentle in your interior at all times. Do not be harsh; always lean to the side of mercy and gentleness. This is what you should attend to, for you have a strong inclination to the opposite and herein lies your great fault."

• The Spiritual Letters of the Venerable Francis Libermann Vol. 5: 211 - 250.

59. Fr. Stanislas Arragon: Be always gentle and calm

Four letters written between 1845 and 1847 urges his reader to be self-controlled and to have patience with others. "You plunge into activities with excessive eagerness and excitement. Realize that the Spirit of God is not in such behavior. Stop and ask yourself whether the radical way in which you judge things is in harmony with the mind of God."

Fr. Arragon is often impetuous and abrupt with others. "Learn to become moderate in adopting an opinion, to defend it peacefully, to relinquish it with humility, and thus to conform your judgment to that of others."

• The Spiritual Letters of the Venerable Francis Libermann Vol. 5: 251 - 268.

60. Fr. Charles Blanpin: Suffer with love and confidence in Jesus

Eleven letters written between 1843 and 1851 seek to console one who is suffering many setbacks including the loss of his voice. "We have to pass through a state of wretchedness to make us realize profoundly that we are nothing. We are entering the way of holiness. I assure you, dear friend that I don't know anyone who arrived at solid and stable perfection without passing first through the crises you have experienced."

The disciples of Jesus "who through the designs of His love are associated in that holy and great work [of salvation], must have a share in His suffering and His humiliation in order that they may have a true share in His work."

• The Spiritual Letters of the Venerable Francis Libermann Vol. 5: 269 - 298.

61. Joseph Lossedat: There are no half-measures in serving God

Ten letters written between 1843 and 1847 show that there are no half measures in following the divine Master. "When we bargain with Him, we must expect Him to do likewise and we shall gain nothing by it. If, on the contrary, we act with generosity and surrender completely to Him, Jesus accepts our offering with the fullness of His divine love and complacency and He gives Himself also completely to us."

Confidence in God empowers generous self-giving in God's service. "Our Lord is with us. With His help, we will overcome all obstacles. Let us go on and do what our weakness permits. It belongs to Him to bless our works. And He will bless them. It belongs to Him to straighten out our foolish mistakes and He will do it."

• The Spiritual Letters of the Venerable Francis Libermann Vol. 5: 299 - 334.