by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J. (2008 trans., origin: mid-18th century)
This work also goes by the titles Abandonment to Divine Providence and The Sacrament of the Present Moment. It was written sometime before the death of Caussade in 1751, but the exact date is unclear. It was first made public 110 years later in 1861 and only first truly published in 1966. Because of the controversy surrounding the Quietism movement, which the author disavowed, these writings meant for a group of nuns were closely guarded, and even highly edited for their 1861 unveiling.
Here is Chapter 9, “Holiness Made Easy”, in its entirety:
I believe that if those who are seriously striving after holiness were instructed as to the conduct they ought to follow they would be spared a good deal of trouble. I speak as much of laypersons as of religious. If the former (that is, laypersons) could realize the merit concealed in the actions of each moment of the day—I mean in each of the daily duties and actions belonging to their state of life—and if the latter (that is, those who are members of religious orders) could be persuaded that holiness is found in what seems unimportant to them, they would all indeed be happy. If, in addition, they understood that the crosses sent them by Providence—crosses that they constantly find in the circumstances of their lives—lead them to the highest perfection by a surer and shorter path than extraordinary states or spectacular works, and if they understood that surrender to the will of God is the true philosopher’s stone that changes into divine gold all their occupations, troubles, and sufferings, what consolation would be theirs! what courage would they derive from this thought: that in order to acquire the friendship of God and to arrive at eternal glory, they have only to do what they are doing and to suffer what they are already suffering, and that what they waste and count as nothing is enough to bring them the greatest holiness, far more than any extraordinary state or wonderful works!
Dearest God! how much I long to be the missionary of your holy will, to teach everyone that there is nothing so easy, so simple, so within the reach of all, as holiness! I wish that I could make people understand that just as the good and the bad thief had the same things to do and to suffer in order to be holy, so it is with two persons, one of whom is worldly and the other leading an interior and wholly spiritual life. One has no more to do than the other. The one who is made holy gains eternal blessedness by submission to your holy will doing those very things that the other, who is lost, does to please himself, or endures with reluctance and rebellion. The difference is in the heart.
Beloved souls who read this! It will cost you no more than to do what you are doing, to suffer what you are suffering. It is only your heart that must be changed. When I say heart, I mean the will. Holiness, then, consists in willing all that God wills for us. Yes! holiness of the heart is a simple “Let it be,” a simple conformity of the will with the will of God.
What could be easier, and who can refuse to love a will so kind and good? Let us love God’s will, and this love will make everything in us divine.
– pp. 20-21