Let Go is a collection of some of the best of the spiritual letters of Francois Fenelon, translated into contemporary English. Reading this work enables you to sit at the feet of a truly great saint. This work should be read in a devotional mood if it is to fulfill its purpose of revealing to the reader the spiritual wisdom, insights, and convictions of a true man of God.
Francois Fenelon was the archbishop of Cambrai, France, during the late 17th century. While serving as archbishop, Fenelon had the opportunity to become the spiritual advisor of a small, but committed, number of men and women at the Court of Louis XIV, including the king himself.
Let Go: The Message
The basic message of Let Go is to surrender ourselves to the sovereignty of God and accept the trials of life as lessons from which we can learn to more humbly walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Fenelon writes:
“We must bear our crosses. Self is the greatest of them. We are not entirely rid of it until we can tolerate ourselves as simply and patiently as we do our neighbor. If we die in part every day of our lives, we shall have but little to do on the last day.
“What we so much dread in the future will cause us no fear when it comes—so long as we do not allow its terrors to be exaggerated by the restless anxieties of self-love. Bear with yourself, and in all lowliness consent to be supported by your neighbor. These little daily deaths will ultimately destroy the power of the final dying!
“The man in whom God operates, knows nothing of the proper proportions. Because a man cannot see the extent of his future trials, nor of the grace prepared to meet them, he is tempted to despair and become discouraged. It is like a man who has never seen the ocean. At the coming in of the tide, he stands between the water and an impassable wall of rock. He imagines that surely the approaching waves will engulf him. He does not realize that he is standing within the boundaries that God has drawn with an unerring finger. Beyond these boundaries, the waters shall not pass.”
On Dying to Self
Fenelon writes further: “Death is only painful to him who resists it. The imagination exaggerates its terrors. The spirit argues endlessly to show the propriety of the life of self. Self-love fights against death, like a sick man in the last struggle. But we must die inwardly as well as outwardly. The sentence of death has gone forth against the spirit as well as against the body. Our great care should be that the spirit of self dies first. For then our bodily death will be but a falling asleep. Happy are they who sleep this sleep of peace!” © 2010