Introductory Note:

François de Salignac de La Mothe Fénelon (1651–1715) was a prominent member of the court of Louis XIV, serving as the tutor of the duke of Burgundy. A man of high esteem in the church, Fénelon was appointed archbishop of Cambrai in 1695. During this time he became acquainted with Madame Guyon and was greatly influenced by her and others of the Quietist movement in France. (Quietism stressed the importance of complete detachment from the things of this world.)

Fénelon’s defense of Quietism (in his work Maxims of the Saints) created a controversy that eventually led to his denunciation by Pope Innocent XII (for “having loved God too much, and man too little”), his banishment by Louis XIV, and his appointment to a local church where he earned the reputation of being an ideal pastor.

Fénelon corresponded with many prominent figures of his day, serving as their spiritual director. His letters were compiled and published for the edification of others. The major theme of François’ writing is complete love of God. 

I am tru­ly sor­ry about all your trou­bles, but I know that God is work­ing on your behalf. Remem­ber that God loves you and there­fore He does not spare you! He lays on you the cross of Jesus Christ. What­ev­er rev­e­la­tions you receive or what­ev­er emo­tion­al expe­ri­ences you have are worth­less unless they lead you to the very real and con­stant prac­tice of dying to your self-nature. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, you can­not die with­out suf­fer­ing, nor can you be said to be ful­ly dead while part of you still lives.

The death that God brings you will pierce deep with­in. Soul and spir­it will be divid­ed. He sees in you all that you can­not see. He knows exact­ly where the fatal blows should fall. He heads straight for that which you are most reluc­tant to give up. Pain is only felt where there is life. And in this sit­u­a­tion life is pre­cise­ly the place where death is needed.

Your Father wastes no time by cut­ting into that which is already dead. If He want­ed to let you remain as you are, He would cer­tain­ly do so. He seeks to destroy your old nature. He can only accom­plish this by cut­ting into that which is alive. Do not expect Him to attack only those obvi­ous­ly wicked desires which you renounced when you gave your­self to Him. Rather, He may test you by tak­ing away the won­der­ful sense of free­dom you feel, or by tak­ing from you all that now brings you spir­i­tu­al comfort.

Will you resist? No! allow every­thing! Vol­un­teer for your own death, for God will only accom­plish His work to the extent that you let Him. Do not push away the progress that God wants to make in you life.

Cheer­ful­ly give up every­thing you now rely on to God’s good plea­sure. Give up spir­i­tu­al things, too, when­ev­er He wants to take them from you. What do your fear, you of lit­tle faith? Are you afraid that He may not be able to give you His strength when He takes away yours? Why does He take it away? Only so that He might be your sup­ply. The les­son may be painful, but He wish­es to puri­fy you. I see that every nat­ur­al means of help is shut off. God intends to accom­plish His work in you by cut­ting off every human resource. He is a jeal­ous God. He wants you to see that what He is going to do with­in you can only be done by Him­self alone.

Sur­ren­der to His plans. Allow your­self to be led where He wants to take you. Be care­ful when you seek help from peo­ple when God is not want­i­ng you to. Remem­ber that they can only give you what He gives to them to give you. Why should it both­er you that you can no longer drink from the faucet? You are now being led to drink from the ever-flow­ing spring!

Tak­en from The Seek­ing Heart, pub­lished 1992 by The SeedSowers.

Pho­to by Tina Har­tung on Unsplash

Text First Published June 1992 · Last Featured on November 2022

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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