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