Letter to a Discouraged Friend

Lanteri wrote this letter from the “Grangia,” his property in the hills outside of Turin, where he was at this time forcibly relegated by order of the French police; this was a consequence of his support for Pius VII in the Holy Father’s struggles with the French, ultimately, with Napoleon and his desire to control the Church. One senses in this letter the absence of the pressure of many apostolic occupations, so apparent in many other letters of correspondence. The constant themes of his spiritual direction—overcoming discouragement, fidelity of the practice of prayer, and so forth—again appear. Noteworthy too is the reference to his precarious state of health. Translated from Carteggio, II, 321-322.

 

Most Worthy Signor Prior and Amico Cristiano in Jesus Christ,

Your most welcome letter could not have given me greater consolation. For a long time now, I have kept you in my heart in a special way before the Lord, and ardently desired word from you about your situation. May the Lord now be praised, who willed to give me this through your letter, and may he be all the more praised and blessed since I see that this news is good in every respect.

I note, however, that you fear for your constancy, and, certainly, not without some reason with respect to your own part, since we can never sufficiently fear, and even despair of ourselves, and so are held all the more, precisely for this reason, to flee occasions and dangers. Yet lest this fear, so just in itself, lead to discouragement and dejection of heart, we must inseparably accompany it with the firmest hope in God, our Father in heaven who loves us so deeply. He alone can and indeed truly desires to help us, and infallibly does help us if we are constant in using the salutary means indicated to us by his fatherly heart for this; these are a faithful practice of the sacraments, never interrupting this for any motive whatsoever, accompanied by the constant practice of meditation and spiritual reading, and by the frequent exercise of some external mortification.

You know too that all this is not so difficult to manage, and that a means which could also help you remain firm in this practice would be to send me, from time to time, an account in some detail of both the practice and the fruits of these exercises. In this way also I would have the consolation of contributing, so far as I can, to your spiritual progress. Do me this favor, most cherished Signor Prior, so that while I remain in this my beloved solitude, where I am as if useless to my neighbor, I may at least be of some spiritual help to you. I ask this all the more, since the days that remain to me are not many because of my illnesses which, far from diminishing, persist all the more and so hasten my departure from this world of sorrow and the approach of the union with my gentle Jesus for which I long.

With regard to your children whom I love tenderly, rest assured that I will never forget them before the Lord. I have a firm hope that the Lord will always bless them, and will give you the wisdom necessary to save them from the corruption of the age.

And begging you to convey my most distinct respects to your worthy spouse and to the Amici, to whose prayers I particularly recommend myself, with the greatest consideration and the most cordial friendship and gratitude, I am

Of Your Most Illustrious and Most Esteemed Lordship
From my country place, December 10, 1812

Your Most Devoted, Most Indebted and Most Affectionate Servant and Friend,

Pio Bruno Lanteri