Letter 12 - God’s Gift of Light



Letter 12 - God's Gift of Light

To the honorable Mr. Francesco Cappelli. 
In Verona190



Several times I have desired to send you my greetings, but my rather poor health has prevented me from doing so.

You must know, most sweet father, that I have reflected over and over again on your loving words.  I have found them so useful that I have resolved to come out of the lethargic state of my spirit.  In fact, I have convinced myself of one thing, that, under the semblance of false humility and the pretense of having no spiritual graces, I have weakened and almost breached my commitment to help others.  My scruples, besides, aggravated this situation by suggesting that anything I thought of saying or doing  proceeded from vainglory, which, blinding my mind, made me talk and act in that way.  Those suggestions seemed real to me because I was most busy helping others, and made no personal progress.

Thus I have buried my talent of helping my neighbor.  And little by little I have lost the initial fervor to bring people to Christ.  As a result, I have lost also the clear vision of the spiritual state of my own soul.  At other times, while I was looking into other people’s spiritual situation, I was led to renew my own; and while trying to affirm them in their spiritual journey, I felt affirmed in my own.  But now, on the contrary, the fear for other people’s spiritual life has struck me with such doubts about my own as to feel paralyzed.

And so now, afraid of my very shadow, I tarry in lukewarmness because, as I have already said, I lost my pristine light.

I would have suffered a lesser evil if, while leading others, I had been partly covered with dust but kept that pristine light.  Instead, I suffered a greater evil when by leaving those others I lost that light.  It was that light that animated my spiritual light [life]] and that, at the end, would have removed the dust itself.

See, amiable father, what an excessive fear does to one’s susceptible temperament: on the one hand, not to be afraid of it and not let ourselves be annoyed and disturbed at times by others always causes us to remain oversensitive; on the other hand, to be afraid of our own shadow, as we try to avoid a pitfall, causes us to fall into a far greater one.

Besides, if we wish to become totally self-assured, we must fight and let ourselves be tested; and after having fought for a long time, we cannot leave great battles to pursue lesser ones.

Therefore, you too, sweet father, take care lest you would make the very same mistake I have made, for it is very deplorable to lose that interior light that has always given us life.

Well, I feel certain that, considering my sad experience, you will not make the same mistake.  As for me, because of your fatherly words, I have decided to devote myself to the care of the spiritual welfare of my neighbor.  By so doing, I hope to grow in Jesus’ love; and the good Lord crucified will give me back the spiritual light and fervor, which used to keep me spiritually alive.  At last, I shall be living in certitude, not in deadly doubts that made me suspicious of any inspiration that I was receiving.  Rather, with the help of Christ and of your prayers, I am confident that I will again recognize what is true from what is false, and what is certain from what is doubtful.

Can you see, now, very dear father, what a great benefit I have received from your words?  Oh that I could talk with you every so often!  But, until I have the opportunity to see you again, be kind enough to write to me once in a while.  In reading your letters, I will feel as if I were talking with you and being comforted by you, to the point of being able to rest in the midst of this ocean.

That’s it for now.

Many good wishes and regards to Madonna Anna204 and to Cecilia205 from me and Father.206  He will write to you at some other time.  He recommends himself to your prayers, to Mr. Agostino’s,207 Mr. Gerardo’s,208 and everybody else’s.

 A[ngelic] P[aola] A[ntonia Negri].209  





  • That which causes us to fall into a state of spiritual apathy, that is, the lack of concern toward other people for fear of appearing proud, cannot be humility.

  • Fear blocks spiritual growth which is always a going forward on God’s way.

  • God himself will see to it that we are gradually cleansed of every trace of pride.

  • Fear of making mistake should not stop us from moving forward. He who stops makes an even greater mistake.


  • Did I sometimes stop doing good for fear of being praised by people, as if doing good, even without any hint of pride or self-aggrandizement, were evil?

  • Am I humble enough to let God be the judge of my deeds and intentions, and am I ready to ask forgiveness from him when I do wrong?
  • Do I believe that acting imperfectly is better than not acting at all?

 190 Letter XII.

191 See n. 59.

192 See Letter VI, p. 57: “As to those who are outside our community, if you think it fit to write something to them on my behalf, it is up to you...”

193 See Friedrich von Hugel, The Mystical Element of Religion. (2nd ed.; London: J.M. Dent, 1923), 1, XXI.

194 See Letter X, Introduction. 

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