Our Knowledge Stands in the Way of Our Becoming Wise

It’s Fénelon Friday!


LETTER 15: Our Knowledge Stands in the Way of Our Becoming Wise

Live in quiet peace, my dear young lady, without any thought for the future. For only God knows if you have a future in this world. Perhaps not. In fact, you do not even have a today that you can call your own. A Christian must live out the hours of today in accord with the plans of God, to whom the day truly belongs.

Keep on with the good things you are doing, since you feel a leaning in these directions, and certainly you will be able to get them done. But be careful of distractions and the desire to do too many things at once. Above all things, be faithful to the present moment, doing one thing at a time, and you will receive all the grace you need.

I am sure that you understand that it is not enough to be merely separated from the world. For we can be separated and be quite proud about it. So we need to give considerable attention to becoming lowly. And I want you to see clearly the distinction between these two things. In separation, we renounce the outer things of the world. But when we turn to the subject of lowliness and humility we are then dealing with the inner self. Every shadow of pride must be left behind. You cannot imagine how dangerous pride is-especially especially if it is that pride of wisdom and morality which seems so right and kind.

We must take a humble position in every situation. We must never brag about ourselves, and especially not of our goodness or special strength. I have said this because I think you are depending too much on your own strength, your own selflessness, and your own uprightness. What you need to see is that these things are not your own. They are God’s.

We can learn a lesson from babies. Babies own nothing. They treat diamonds and apples alike. Be a babe. Have nothing of your own. (It all belongs to God anyway!) Forget yourself. Give way on all occasions. Let the smallest be greater than you.

When you pray, let your prayers be simple loving prayers out of the heart. This is far better than more refined prayers which come only from the head.

You will learn most in times of deprivation, deep meditation and silence of the soul before God. It is here where you will learn to renounce your own selfish spirit and to love humility, obscurity, weakness and submission. These things, so despised by the world, are the accomplished teachers of all truths. Human knowledge can only stand in the way.

Francis Fénelon, Let Go (New Kensington: Whitaker House, 1973).


  1. I was especially blessed by this article. It spoke to my heart concerning the simpleness and humility of our lives. We should learn how to walk in these two things on a daily basis. Thank you for these important words.


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