“But,” you may reply, “you say fervently: Alas! how can I, who have no fervour in me, do this?” You may, it is true, have no fervour as you understand the word—that is, fervour of feeling, which God gives to whomsoever He pleases, and which it is not in our power to obtain just when we wish to feel it.
I added, also, humbly, so that there might be no means of excuse; for you cannot say: “I have no humility; it is not in my power to possess it,” seeing that the Holy Spirit, Who is goodness itself, gives it to all who ask Him for it.*
Not that humility which is the sentiment of our unimportance, and which makes us humble ourselves so graciously in all things, but the humility which makes us know our own abjection, and makes us love it when we have so recognised it in ourselves; for that is true humility.
Never was there a time when people studied as they do now. Those great Saints, Augustine, Gregory, Hilary (whose feast we are keeping today), and many others, did not study much; they could not have done so, writing as many books as they did, preaching, and discharging all the other duties of their office.
They had, however, such great confidence in God and in His grace, and so great a mistrust of themselves, that they neither placed their dependence nor their trust in their own skill or labour, so that all the great works which they did were done purely by means of their reliance on His grace and almighty power.
“It is Thou, O Lord,” they said, “Who givest us to work, and it is for Thee that we work; it is Thou Who wilt bless our labours, and give us a rich harvest.” Therefore their books and their sermons bore marvellous fruit; while as for us, who trust in our fine words, in our eloquent language, and our knowledge, all our labours end in smoke, and yield no fruit but vanity.
To sum up, then, all that I would say to you regarding this first law; I bid you trust wholly in God and do all things for Him, abandoning the entire care of yourselves to your beloved Dove-mate, Who will have an incomparable forethought for you; and the truer and the more perfect is your confidence, the more special will be His providence!