01) First Letter

How the habitual sense of God’s Presence was found.
SINCE you desire so earnestly that I should communicate to you the
method by which I arrived at that habitual sense of GOD’s Presence,
which our LORD, of His mercy, has been pleased to vouchsafe to me; I
must tell you, that it is with great difficulty that I am prevailed on
by your importunities; and now I do it only upon the terms, that you
show my letter to nobody. If I knew that you would let it be seen, all
the desire that I have for your advancement would not be able to
determine me to it. The account I can give you is:
Having found in many books different methods of going to GOD, and divers
practices of the spiritual life, I thought this would serve rather to
puzzle me, than facilitate what I sought after, which was nothing but
how to become wholly GOD’s.
This made me resolve to give the all for the All: so after having given
myself wholly to GOD, to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins,
I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not He; and I
began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world. Sometimes
I considered myself before Him as a poor criminal at the feet of his
judge; at other times I beheld Him in my heart as my FATHER, as my GOD:
I worshipped Him the oftenest that I could, keeping my mind in His holy
Presence, and recalling it as often as I found it wandered from Him. I
found no small pain in this exercise, and yet I continued it,
notwithstanding all the difficulties that occurred, without troubling or
disquieting myself when my mind had wandered involuntarily. I made this
my business, as much all the day long as at the appointed times of
prayer; for at all times, every hour, every minute, even in the height
of my business, I drove away from my mind everything that was capable of
interrupting my thought of GOD.
Such has been my common practice ever since I entered into religion;
and though I have done it very imperfectly, yet I have found great
advantages by it. These, I well know, are to be imputed to the mere
mercy and goodness of GOD, because we can do nothing without Him; and I
still less than any. But when we are faithful to keep ourselves in His
holy Presence, and set Him always before us, this not only hinders our
offending Him, and doing anything that may displease Him, at least
wilfully, but it also begets in us a holy freedom, and if I may so
speak, a familiarity with GOD, wherewith we ask, and that successfully,
the graces we stand in need of. In fine, by often repeating these acts,
they become habitual, and the presence of GOD is rendered as it were
natural to us. Give Him thanks, if you please, with me, for His great
goodness towards me, which I can never sufficiently admire, for the many
favours He has done to so miserable a sinner as I am. May all things
praise Him. Amen.

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