How frankly you laughed when I advised you to put the years of your youth under the protection of Saint Raphael: 'so that he'll lead you, like young Tobias, to a holy marriage, with a girl who is good and pretty and rich', I told you, jokingly.

And then, how thoughtful you became!… when I went on to advise you to put yourself also under the patronage of that young apostle John; in case God were to ask more of you.

For you, who complain to yourself because you are treated severely and feel the contrast between this harshness and the conduct of those back home, I copy these lines from the letter of an army doctor: 'There are two ways of approaching each case: the conscientious professional attitude — cold and calculating, but objective and useful to the patient: or the tearful fussing of the family. At the height of a battle, when the stream of casualties begins to arrive and to accumulate because they can't be dealt with fast enough, what would become of a first-aid post if a family stood around each stretcher? One might just as well go over to the enemy.'

I have no need of miracles: there are more than enough for me in the Gospel. But I do need to see you fulfilling your duty and responding to grace.

Disappointment. You're downhearted. Men have just taught you a lesson! As long as they thought you did not need them, offers came pouring in. The possibility that they might have to help you with hard cash — a few miserable pennies — turned their friendship into indifference.

Trust only in God and in those who, through him, are united with you.

Ah, if you would only resolve to serve God 'seriously', with the same zeal with which you serve your ambition, your vanity, your sensuality!…

If you feel the urge to be a leader, let this be your aim: to be last among your brothers; and among others, the first.

Let's see: do you feel slighted in any way because 'So— and-so' is more friendly with certain persons whom he knew before or to whom he feels more attracted by temperament, profession, or character ?

Nevertheless, among yourselves, carefully avoid even the appearance of a particular friendship.

The choicest morsel, if eaten by a pig, is turned (to put it bluntly), into pigflesh!

Let us be angels, so as to dignify the ideas we assimilate.

Let us at least be men, so as to convert our food into strong and noble muscles, or perhaps into a powerful brain capable of understanding and adoring God.

But let us not be beasts, like so many, so very many!

So you are bored? Naturally, if you keep your senses awake and your soul asleep.

The charity of Jesus Christ will often lead you to make concessions. That is very noble. And the charity of Jesus Christ will often lead you to stand your ground. That too is very noble.

If you're not bad, and yet appear to be bad, then you are stupid. And that stupidity — source of scandal — is worse than being bad.

When you see people of uncertain professional standing acting as leaders at public functions of a religious nature, don't you feel the urge to whisper in their ears: Please, would you mind being just a little less Catholic?

If you have an official position, you have also certain rights which arise from the practice of that office, and certain duties.

You stray from your apostolic way if you use the opportunity — or the excuse — offered by a work of zeal to leave the duties of your position unfulfilled. For you will lose that professional prestige which is your 'bait' as a 'fisher of men.'

I like your apostolic motto: 'To work without rest.'

Why that rushing around? Don't tell me that it is activity: it is thoughtlessness.

Dissipation. — You slake your senses and faculties in whatever pool you meet on the way. And you can feel the results: unsettled purpose, scattered attention, deadened will and quickened concupiscence.

Subject yourself once again to a serious plan that will make you lead a christian life: or you'll never do anything worth while.

'There's no denying the influence of environment', you've told me. And I have to answer: Quite. That is why you have to be formed in such a way that you can carry your own environment about with you in a natural manner, and so give your own 'tone' to the society in which you live.

And then, if you have acquired this spirit, I am sure you will tell me with the amazement of the disciples as they contemplated the first fruits of the miracles being worked by their hands in Christ's name: 'There's no denying our influence on environment!'

And how shall I acquire 'our formation', how shall I keep 'our spirit'? — By being faithful to the specific norms your Director gave you and explained to you, and made you love: be faithful to them and you will be an apostle.

Don't be a pessimist. Don't you realise that all that happens or can happen is for the best?

Your optimism will be a necessary consequence of your faith.

Naturalness. Let your lives as christian men, as christian women — your salt and your light — flow spontaneously, without anything odd or silly: always carry with you our spirit of simplicity.

'And in a paganised or pagan environment when my life clashes with its surroundings, won't my naturalness seem artificial?' you ask me.

And I reply: Undoubtedly your life will clash with theirs; and that contrast — faith confirmed by works! — is exactly the naturalness I ask of you.

Don't worry if people say you have esprit de corps. What do they want? A brittle instrument, that falls to pieces the moment it is grasped?

When I made you a present of that Life of Jesus, I wrote as an inscription. May you seek Christ: may you find Christ: may you love Christ.

Three perfectly clear stages. Have you tried, at least, to live the first?

If they see you weaken… and you are the leader, it is no wonder their obedience falters.

Confused-I knew you were in danger of making the wrong decision. And so that you could understand me, I wrote: The devil has a very ugly face, and since he is so clever, he won't risk our seeing his horns. He never makes a direct attack. That is why he so often comes in the disguise of nobleness and even of spirituality!

Our Lord says: 'I give you a new commandment: Love one another. By this love everyone will know that you are my disciples'.

And Saint Paul: 'Carry each other's troubles and you fulfil the law of Christ'.

I have nothing to add.

Don't forget, my son, that for you on earth there is but one evil, which you must fear and avoid with the grace of God: sin.

References to Holy Scripture
References to Holy Scripture
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