(Bordeaux, February 13th, 1862)
A suffering spirit who came to the medium spontaneously, under the name of Lisbeth.
1. Will you tell us something about your position and the cause of your suffering?
A. Be humble-minded, resigned to the will of God, patient under trial, charitable to the poor, encouraging for the weak, warm-hearted for all who suffer, and you will not have to undergo the tortures I am enduring!
2. If you were carried away by the vices that are the opposites of the virtues you point out, you appear, at least, to regret your wrongdoing. Surely, your repentance must have brought you relief?
A. No, repentance is sterile when it is a consequence of suffering. Productive repentance is that which springs from regret for having offended God and from an ardent desire to make reparation for that offence. Unhappily for me, I have not yet reached that standpoint. Speak for me to those who consecrate themselves to the help of the suffering; I am in sad need of their prayers.
This is a great truth. Suffering sometimes drags from the sufferer a cry of repentance which is not the expression of a sincere regret for having done wrong, for, if he no longer suffered, he would be ready to repeat his wrongdoing. Mere repentance, therefore, does not always procure the sufferer’s deliverance; it prepares the way for deliverance, but that is all. Before the wrongdoer can be delivered from the results of his wrongdoing, he must prove the sincerity and the thoroughness of his good resolutions by undergoing new trials that will give him the means of making reparation for the evil he has done. If the reader carefully ponders over the various examples we have brought forth in the present material, he will find useful instruction in the statements of even the most backward spirits because they illuminate us in the most intimate details of the spiritual life. While the superficial reader sees, in these examples, only histories more or less picturesque, reflective minds will find in them an abundant stock of subjects for serious study.
3. I will do what you ask. Will you give me some details concerning your last existence? Such details may be instructive for us; and you will thus render your repentance productive.
(The spirit manifested a good deal of hesitation in replying to this question, and also to several of the subsequent ones.)
A. I was born in a high position. I had everything that men regard as conducive to happiness. Rich, I was selfish; handsome, I was coquettish; cold-hearted, and deceitful; of noble rank, I was ambitious. With my power, I crushed those who did not prostrate themselves sufficiently low before me; I crushed even those who threw themselves under my feet, without reflecting that the Lord also crushes, sooner or later, the haughtiest brows.
4. At what period did you live?
5. Have you, in that time, made no progress as a spirit?
A. No, the influence of matter has kept me in a state of constant revolt. You cannot comprehend the influence exerted by matter upon the spirit, notwithstanding the separation of the latter from the body. Pride winds around the soul its chains of brass, whose links grow tighter and tighter about the wretch who has abandoned his heart to its action. Pride! The hydra whose hundred heads – perpetually renewed – have the art of modulating their poisoned hisses so cunningly that its victims mistake them for celestial music! Pride! The Protean demon who lends himself in the deepest recesses of your heart, who penetrates into your veins, envelops your being, absorbs you, and draws you after him into the darkness of the eternal Gehenna!...Yes, eternal!
The spirit denies having made any progress; doubtless, because still in a painful situation; but the description given of pride and the horror expressed of the consequences of that vice, are incontestable proofs of progress; for, during life, she would certainly not have reasoned thus. The understanding of evil is the first step towards amendment; the will and the power to avoid evil comes afterwards.
6. God is too good to condemn His creatures to eternal punishment; you should hope in His mercy.
A. There may be an end to suffering; it is said that there is, but when? Where? I have sought it long; but I see only suffering, everywhere and forever! Forever! Forever!
7. What brought you here today?
Q. Since when have you seen that spirit?
Q. And since when have you begun to repent of your faults?
8. Do you not understand the connection that exists between your repentance and the visible aid given you by your spirit-guardian? You should see, as the origin of this aid, the love of God, and, as its aim, the forgiveness that His infinite mercy is waiting to accord you.
Q. I think I can promise you this forgiveness in the sacred name of Him who is never deaf to the cry of His children in distress. Call to Him from the depths of your repentance; He will hear you.
9. Let us pray together; He shall certainly hear us. (After the prayer) Are you still here? A. Yes; thanks; do not forget me!
10. Come to me, and write your name, everyday.
The Medium’s Guide. – Never forget the teachings you derive from the sufferings of those whom you assist, especially as regards the causes of those sufferings; let them serve to preserve you from the same dangers and the same chastisements. Purify your hearts, be humble, love one another, be helpful and may your grateful heart never forget the fountain of all grace, an inexhaustible fountain where each one of you can drink abundantly; a living fountain which satisfies thirst and nurtures at the same time. A fountain of life and of eternal pleasures. Go to it, my beloved, and drink from it with faith. Throw your nets into it and from its waves will come a great quantity of blessings. Advise your brothers to imitate you and remind them of the dangers they can meet. Spread the blessings of the Father, as they are incessantly reborn; the more that you spread them around you, the more they will multiply. Point out to your brothers the dangers of the way; show them, by your example, how to avoid them; and the blessing of the Highest will be with you, and with those who listen to you.