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Talking with God
by François Fénelon
Published by Paraclete Press ©1997





  1. How to Talk with God — Honestly and openly bring whatever is on your heart to God.
  2. Desiring God’s Will — What God gives is precisely what we should have desired to ask. For we will have whatever He wills, and only that.
  3. On the True Prayer of the Heart — To pray is to desire or long for, but to desire what God would have us desire. We do not truly pray if we really do not desire and yearn for the things we pretend to ask.
  4. On Maintaining a Life of Prayer — We must continually seek to cherish a constant spirit of prayer that unites us with God, and we must avoid everything that tends to make us lose it.
  5. Choosing Companions Wisely — The importance of seeking companionship that will reinforce our spiritual pursuits rather than hinder us in them.
  6. The Practice of Humility — Some aspects of pride contrasted with humility.
  7. Conforming to the Life of Jesus — We ought to imitate Jesus in all things and especially in His humiliation.
  8. The Uses of Humiliation — We may judge our progress in humility by the delight we have in humiliations.
  9. Bearing Our Faults Patiently — Be extremely distrustful of your intellect and your own ideas of perfection.
  10. When Feelings Fail Us — Without emotional feeling, faith is in full exercise while humility is preserved.
  11. When We Feel Abandoned by God — We should never so fully abandon ourselves to God as when He seems to abandon us.
  12. Living in the Present — Surrender yourself into the hands of God, permitting Him to do whatever he will, not according to your desires, but according to His own good pleasure.
  13. On Pure Love — God and His glory are to be preferred before ourselves and everything else to such a degree that we must love his glory more than our own happiness.
  14. The Refinements of Self-Love — The origin of our trouble is that we love ourselves with a blind passion that amounts to idolatry.
  15. Listening to God Rather than Self — The difference between the words of God and the words of self-love.
  16. The Miracle of Self-Denial — The abandonment of evil things consists in refusing them with horror. The abandonment of good things consists in using them for our needs in moderation.
  17. Bearing the Criticism of Others — Go on your spiritual journey naturally, and what others say will not harm you.
  18. Meeting Temptations — Our life is a continual combat, but one in which Jesus Christ fights for us.
  19. The Giver or the Gifts? — The soul that is sustained by God is not surprised at its own wretchedness. It is delighted to find new proof that it can do nothing of itself and that God must do everything.
  20. When Undergoing Great Weakness — Devotions practiced during an illness.
  21. The Interior Voice of the Spirit — We are always inspired, but we incessantly stifle the inspiration. God does not cease to speak, but the noise of the world outside us, and the noise of our passions within, prevent our hearing Him.
  22. Judge Cautiously — A warning against sticking one’s nose into other people’s business.
  23. The Last Shall Be First — When we have silenced everything within us in order to listen to God, we know all things without knowing anything.
  24. When Spiritually Disheartened — Trying to act in grace during the dry times.
  25. Dealing with Our Faults — Nothing marks so decidedly the solid progress of a soul as being able to view its own depravity without being disturbed or discouraged.
  26. Faithfulness in Small Things — God does not so much regard our actions as He does the motive of love from which they spring and the pliability of our wills to His. It is not by incessant care that we become faithful in the smallest things, but simply by a love which is free from the reflections and fears of a restless and overscrupulous soul.
  27. Exactitude and Liberty of Spirit — Exactitude will make you faithful, liberty will make you courageous. If you attempt to be exact without being free, you will fall into slavery and scruples. If you attempt to be free without being exact, you will degenerate into negligence and carelessness.
  28. Dealing with Contradictory Feelings — Faults committed in the simplicity of your good intention will be of service if they produce humility and make you of less and less account in your own eyes.
  29. Maintaining Faith Without Feelings — God, who is so good, will not allow you to lose sight of how unworthy you are of Him, and the thought of your own unworthiness will bring you back at once to His infinite goodness.
  30. Undue Attachment to Feelings — It is not true to say that on being deprived of feeling we are afraid of having lost God. It is our impatience under the trial, the restlessness of a pampered and dainty nature, a search for some support for self-love, and a secret return to self after our consecration to God.
  31. The Proper Use of Crosses — God never afflicts us except against His own inclination. His Fatherly heart is not gladdened at the sight of our misery, but He cuts to the quick, that He may heal the disease in our souls. He must snatch away from us whatever we cling to too fondly, and all that we love inordinately, contrary to His claim upon us.
  32. Joy in Bearing the Cross — In whatever state we may be, whatever consequences God may give, we are blessed in being given over to His hands.
  33. What God Orders Is Best — The crosses we originate are not nearly as efficient in dealing with self-love as those that come to us in the daily allotments of God.
  34. Keeping All Our Affections in God — God wishes to have all, and His jealousy will not leave a divided heart in peace.
  35. Two Kinds of Love — Those who are still supported somewhat by self should not be too anxious about those who are in pure love, nor should the latter try to make the former pass through new trials before God calls tham to it.
  36. Our Union in God — Let us all remain in our only Center, where we can always find each other, and where we are all but one and the same.
  37. Bearing Suffering — Kiss lovingly the Hand that strikes you.
  38. Suffering Rightly — We know that we must suffer, and that we deserve it. Nevertheless, we are always surprised at affliction, as if we thought we neither merited nor had need of it.
  39. The Usefulness of Deprivations — When we give ourselves entirely to the designs of God for us, we are as willing to be deprived of consolations as to enjoy them. Often a deprivation that disturbs and humbles us is more useful to us than an abundance of comforting.
  40. The Value of Moderation — Some tips on living in moderation.
  41. Regarding Prayer — Receive without resistance the insights and feelings which may come to you in prayer, but do not trust any of these things which might flatter your pride and fill you with vain self-complacency.
  42. Keeping a Spirit of Prayer — Accustom yourself gradually to extend your prayer over all the outward activities of the day. Speak, act, and work in peace as if you were in prayer, for indeed you should be so.
  43. When Spiritual Emotions Fade — Emotional fervor comes and goes. When we have it, it is God who gives it out of His condescension, to sustain our weakness.
  44. Dealing with Sickness and Grief — Illness is a precious gift that God gives us to make us feel the weakness of our soul by the weakness of our body.
  45. Bearing Spiritual Dryness — We must bear the loss of that which it pleases God to take away from us, but we may not take anything away from ourselves, nor are we allowed to let anything be lost through voluntary negligence.
  46. Using Time Wisely — We misuse our time, not only when we do wrong or do nothing, but also when we do something else than what we should have done at that moment, even though it may be the means of good.
  47. Preserving Peace with Others — The great thing is to make light of yourself sincerely, and to consent to be made light of by others if God permits it.
  48. True Liberty — When we are no longer embarrassed by the restless reflections of self, we begin to enjoy true liberty.
  49. Dealing with a Haughty Spirit — A proud or disdainful manner, one that relishes ridicule or censoriousness, indicates a self-satisfied mind that is unconscious of its own weak points.
  50. Thinking of Death — Our misery is the proper object of His mercy, and His mercy is our only claim.
  51. The Cross as a Treasure — Confine yourself today to your present needs. God will give you each day the help that is proportioned to that day.