Natural Inclination To The Love Of God – St. Francis De Sales

THAT WE HAVE A NATURAL INCLINATION TO LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL THINGS.

IF there could be found any men who were in the integrity of original justice in which Adam was created, though otherwise not helped by another assistance from God than that which he affords to each creature, in order that it may be able to do the actions befitting its nature, such men would not 57 only have an inclination to love God above all things but even naturally would be able to put into execution so just an inclination.

For as this heavenly author and master of nature co-operates with and lends his strong hand to fire to spring on high, to water to flow towards the sea, to earth to sink down to its centre and stay there—so having himself planted in man’s heart a special natural inclination not only to love good in general but to love in particular and above all things his divine goodness which is better and sweeter than all things—the sweetness of his sovereign providence required that he should contribute to these blessed men of whom we speak as much help as should be necessary to practise and effectuate that inclination.

This help would be on the one hand natural, as being suitable to nature, and tending to the love of God as author and sovereign master of nature, and on the other hand it would be supernatural, because it would correspond not with the simple nature of man, but with nature adorned, enriched and honoured by original justice, which is a supernatural quality proceeding from a most special favour of God. But as to the love above all things which such help would enable these men to practise, it would be called natural, because virtuous actions take their names from their objects and motives, and this love of which we speak would only tend to God as acknowledged to be author, lord and sovereign of every creature by natural light only, and consequently to be amiable and estimable above all things by natural inclination and tendency.

And although now our human nature be not endowed with that original soundness and righteousness which the first man had in his creation, but on the contrary be greatly depraved by sin, yet still the holy inclination to love God above all things stays with us, as also the natural light by which we see his sovereign goodness to be more worthy of love than all things; and it is impossible that one thinking attentively upon God, yea even by natural reasoning only, should not feel a certain movement of love which the secret inclination of our nature excites in the bottom of our hearts, by which at the first apprehension of this chief and sovereign object, the will is taken, and perceives itself stirred up to a complacency in it.

It happens often amongst partridges that one steals away another’s eggs with intention to sit on them, whether moved by greediness to become a mother, or by a stupidity which makes them mistake their own, and behold a strange thing, yet well supported by testimony!—the young one which was hatched and nourished under the wings of a stranger partridge, at the first call of the true mother, who had laid the egg whence she was hatched, quits the thief-partridge, goes back to the first mother, and puts herself in her brood, from the correspondence which she has with her first origin. Y

et this correspondence appeared not, but remained secret, shut up and as it were sleeping in the bottom of nature, till it met with its object; when suddenly excited, and in a sort awakened, it produces its effect, and turns the young partridge’s inclination to its first duty. It is the same, Theotimus, with our heart, which though it be formed, nourished and bred amongst corporal, base and transitory things, and in a manner under the wings of nature, notwithstanding, at the first look it throws on God, at its first knowledge of him, the natural and first inclination to  love God which was dull and imperceptible, awakes in an instant, and suddenly appears as a spark from amongst the ashes, which touching our will gives it a movement of the supreme love due to the sovereign and first principle of all things.

Thoughts From Padre Pio

Our present life is given only to gain the eternal one and if we don’t think about it, we build our affections on what belongs to this world, where our life is transitory. When we have to leave it we are afraid and become agitated. Believe me, to live happily in this pilgrimage, we have to aim at the hope of arriving at our Homeland, where we will stay eternally.

Meanwhile we have to believe firmly that God calls us to Himself and follows us along the path towards Him. He will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for our greater good. He knows who we are and He will hold out His paternal hand to us during difficulties, so that nothing prevents us from running to Him swiftly. But to enjoy this grace we must have complete trust in Him.

You must not be discouraged or let yourself become dejected if your actions have not succeeded as perfectly as you intended. What do you expect? We are made of clay and not every soil yields the fruits expected by the one who tills it. But let us always humble ourselves and acknowledge that we are nothing if we lack the Divine assistance.

As regards mortification of the flesh, St. Paul warns us that those who belong to “Christ Jesus, have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” – Galatians 5:24. From this holy apostle’s teaching it is apparent that anyone who wants to be a true Christian, that is to say, who lives according to the true spirit of Jesus Christ, must mortify his flesh for no other reason than devotion to Jesus, who for love of us, mortified His entire body on the cross. The mortification must be constant and steady, not intermittent, and it must last for one’s whole life.

Let us keep before our minds that which makes up real holiness. Holiness means getting above ourselves; it means perfect mastery of all our passions. It means having real and continual contempt for ourselves and for the things of the world to the point of preferring poverty rather than wealth, humiliation rather than glory, suffering rather than pleasure.

Holiness means loving our neighbor as our self for love of God. In this connection holiness means loving those who curse us, who hate and persecute us and even doing good to them. Holiness means living humbly, being disinterested, prudent, just, patient, kind, chaste, meek, diligent, carrying out one’s duties for no other reason than that of pleasing God and receiving from Him alone the reward one deserves.

Renew your faith by attending Holy Mass. Keep your mind focused on the mystery that is unfolding before your eyes. In your mind’s eye transport yourself to Calvary and meditate on the Victim who offers Himself to Divine Justice, paying the price of your redemption.

The Mother of Sorrows is my confidante, my teacher, my counselor, and my powerful advocate.

ARE YOUR AFFAIRS GOING BETTER? – St. John Vianney

ARE YOUR AFFAIRS GOING BETTER?

Another bad habit which is very common in homes and among working people is impatience, grumbling, and swearing. Now, my children, where do you get with your impatience and your grumbling? Do your affairs go any better?

Do they cause you any less trouble? Is it not, rather, the other way around? You have a lot more trouble with them, and, what is even worse, you lose all the merit which you might have gained for Heaven.

But, you will tell me, that is all very well for those who have nothing to put up with…. If they were in my shoes they would probably be much worse….

I would agree with all that, my children, if we were not Christians, if we had nothing to hope for beyond what benefits and pleasures we might taste in this world. I would agree if — I repeat — we were the first people who ever suffered anything, but since the time of Adam until the present, all the saints have had something to suffer, and most of them far more than have we. But they suffered with patience, always subject to the will of God, and soon their troubles were finished, and their happiness, which has begun, will never come to an end. Let us contemplate, my dear brethren, this beautiful Heaven, let us think about the happiness which God has prepared for us there, and we shall endure all the evils of life in a spirit of penitence, with the hope of an eternal reward. If only you could have the happiness of being able to say in the evening that your whole day had been spent for God! I tell you that working people, if they want to get to Heaven, should endure patiently the rigour of the seasons and the ill humour of those for whom they work; they should avoid those grumbles and bad language so commonly heard and fulfil their duties conscientiously and faithfully. Husbands and wives should live peacefully in their union of marriage; they should be mutually edifying to each other, pray for one another, bear patiently with one another’s faults, encourage virtue in one another by good example, and follow the holy and sacred rules of their state, remembering that they are the children of the saints and that, consequently, they ought not to behave like pagans, who have not the happiness of knowing the one true God.

Masters should take the same care of their servants as of their own children, remembering the warning of St. Paul that if they do not have care for them, they are worse than the pagans, and that they will be more severely punished on the day of judgment. Servants are to give you service and to be loyal to you, and you must treat them not as slaves but as your children and your brethren.

Servants must look upon their masters as taking the place of Jesus Christ on earth. Their duty is to serve them joyfully, obey them with a good grace, without grumbling, and look after their well-being as carefully as they would their own.

Servants should avoid the growth of too-familiar relationships, which are so dangerous and so fatal to innocence. If you have the misfortune to find yourself in such a situation, you must leave your employment, no matter what it may cost you to do so. Here is an example of those very circumstances wherein you must follow the counsel Jesus Christ gave you when He said that if one’s right eye or right hand should be an occasion of sin, one must deprive oneself of them because it is better to go into Heaven lacking an eye or a hand than to be cast into Hell with one’s whole body. That is to say, however desirable your position may be, you must leave it at once; otherwise you will never save your soul. Put the salvation of your soul first, our Lord Jesus Christ tells us, because that is the only thing you ought really to have at heart. Alas, my dear brethren, how rare are those Christians who are ready to suffer rather than to jeopardise the salvation of their souls!

Some Thoughts From St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Thérèse of Lisieux has always been one of my “favorite” saints.  Her simple manner and approach to the faith was always inspiring.  I found some of these quotes online and thought they would be welcomed.

I feel that when I am charitable it is Jesus alone who acts in me; the more I am united to Him the more do I love all my Sisters. If, when I desire to increase this love in my heart, the demon tries to set before my eyes the faults of one or other of the Sisters, I hasten to call to mind her virtues, her good desires; I say to myself that if I had seen her fall once, she may well have gained many victories which she conceals through humility; and that even what appears to me a fault may in truth be an act of virtue by reason of the intention.

Story of A Soul, Chapter IX

True Charity consists in bearing with all the defects of our neighbor, in not being surprised at his failings, and in being edified by his least virtues; Charity must not remain shut up in the depths of the heart, for no man lighteth a candle and putteth it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. (Cf. Matthew 5:15). It seems to me that this candle represents the Charity which ought to enlighten and make joyful, not only those who are dearest to me, but all who are in the house.

Story of A Soul, Chapter IX

Life is passing, Eternity draws nigh: soon shall we live the very life of God. After having drunk deep at the fount of bitterness, our thirst will be quenched at the very source of all sweetness.

Yes, the figure of this world passeth away (1 Cor. 7:31), soon shall we see new heavens; a more radiant sun will brighten with its splendors ethereal seas and infinite horizons… We shall no longer be prisoners in a land of exile, all will be at an end and with our Heavenly Spouse we shall sail o’er boundless waters; now our harps are hung upon the willows that border the rivers of Babylon (Cf. Ps. 136:2), but in the day of our deliverance what harmonies will then be heard! With what joy shall we not make every chord of our instruments to vibrate! Today, we weep remembering Sion,… how shall we sing the songs of the Lord in a strange land? (Cf. Ps. 136:1,4).

V Letter to Her Sister Celine

 

Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that the Church being a body composed of different members, the most essential, the most noble of all the organs would not be wanting to her; I understood that the Church has a heart and that this heart is burning with love; that it is love alone which makes the members work, that if love were to die away apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. I understood that love comprises all vocations, that love is everything, that it embraces all times and all places because it is eternal!

Story of A Soul, Chapter XI

Read more here…

 

On Modesty – Extracts from, ‘The True Spouse of Jesus Christ’ 

Here are some quotes I find on Modest here

Modesty of the Eyes 

‘Turn away your eyes lest they behold vanity; (cf. Ps. 119:37) for license causes souls to perish.’

St. Poemen
Extracts from, ‘The True Spouse of Jesus Christ’
by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Almost all our rebellious passions spring from unguarded looks; for, generally speaking, it is by the sight that all inordinate affections and desires are excited.

Hence, holy Job made a covenant with his eyes, that he would not so much as think upon a virgin.

Why did he say that he would not so much as think upon a virgin? Should he not have said that he made a covenant with his eyes not to look at a virgin? No; he very properly said that he would not think upon a virgin; because thoughts are so connected with looks, that the former cannot be separated from the latter, and therefore, to escape the molestation of evil imaginations, he resolved never to fix his eyes on a woman.

St. Augustine says: “The thought follows the look; delight comes after the thought; and consent after delight.” From the look proceeds the thought; from the thought the desire; for, as St. Francis de Sales says, what is not seen is not desired, and to the desire succeeds the consent.

If Eve had not looked at the forbidden apple, she should not have fallen; but because she saw that it was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and beautiful to behold, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.

The devil first tempts us to look, then to desire, and afterwards to consent.

St. Jerome says that Satan requires “only a beginning on our part.” If we begin, he will complete our destruction.

A deliberate glance at a person of a different sex often enkindles an infernal spark, which consumes the soul. “Through the eyes,” says St. Bernard, “the deadly arrows of love enter.” The first dart that wounds and frequently robs chaste souls of life finds admission through the eyes. By them David, the beloved of God, fell. By them was Solomon, once the inspired of the Holy Ghost, drawn into the greatest abominations. Oh! how many are lost by indulging their sight!

The eyes must be carefully guarded by all who expect not to be obliged to join in the lamentation of Jeremiah: “My eye hath wasted my soul.” By the introduction of sinful affections my eyes have destroyed my soul. Hence St. Gregory says, that “the eyes, because they draw us to sin, must be depressed.”

If not restrained, they will become instruments of hell, to force the soul to sin almost against its will.

“He that looks at a dangerous object,” continues the saint, “begins to will what he wills not.” It was this the inspired writer intended to express when he said of Holofernes, that the beauty of Judith made his soul captive.

Seneca says that “blindness is a part of innocence.” And Tertullian relates that a certain pagan philosopher, to free himself from impurity, plucked out his eyes. Such an act would be unlawful in us: but he that desires to preserve chastity must avoid the sight of objects that are apt to excite unchaste thoughts. “Gaze not about,” says the Holy Ghost, “upon another’s beauty; . . . hereby lust is enkindled as a fire.” Gaze not upon another’s beauty; for from looks arise evil imaginations, by which an impure fire is lighted up.

Hence St. Francis de Sales used to say, that “they who wish to exclude an enemy from the city must keep the gates locked.” 

Hence, to avoid the sight of dangerous objects, the saints were accustomed to keep their eyes almost continually fixed on the earth, and to abstain even from looking at innocent objects.

After being a novice for a year, St. Bernard could not tell whether his cell was vaulted. In consequence of never raising his eyes from the ground, he never knew that there were but three windows to the church of the monastery, in which he spent his novitiate.

He once, without perceiving a lake, walked along its banks for nearly an entire day; and hearing his companions speak about it, he asked when they had seen it.

St. Peter of Alcantara kept his eyes constantly cast down, so that he did not know the brothers with whom he conversed. It was by the voice, and not by the countenance, that he was able to recognize them.

The saints were particularly cautious not to look at persons of a different sex.

St. Hugh, bishop, when compelled to speak with women, never looked at them in the face.

St. Clare would never fix her eyes on the face of a man. She was greatly afflicted because, when raising her eyes at the elevation to see the consecrated host, she once involuntarily saw the countenance of the priest.

St. Aloysius never looked at his own mother in the face.

It is related of St. Arsenius, that a noble lady went to visit him in the desert, to beg of him to recommend her to God. When the saint perceived that his visitor was a woman, he turned away from her, she then said to him: “Arsenius, since you will neither see or hear me, at least remember me in your prayers.” “No,” replied the saint, “but I will beg of God to make me forget you, and never more to think of you.”

From these examples may be seen the folly and temerity of some religious who, though they have not the sanctity of a St. Clare, still gaze around from the terrace, in the parlor, and in the church, upon every object that presents itself, even on persons of a different sex. And notwithstanding their unguarded looks, they expect to be free from temptations and from the danger of sin.

For having once looked deliberately at a woman who was gathering ears of corn, the Abbot Pastor was tormented for forty years by temptations against chastity.

St. Gregory states that the temptation, to conquer which St. Benedict rolled himself in thorns, arose from one incautious glance at a woman.

St. Jerome, though living in a cave at Bethlehem, in continual prayer and macerations of the flesh, was terribly molested by the remembrance of ladies whom he had long before seen in Rome. Why should not similar molestations be the lot of the religious who wilfully and without reserve fixes her eyes on persons of a different sex?

“It is not,” says St. Francis de Sales, “the seeing of objects so much as the fixing of our eyes upon them that proves most pernicious.” “If,” says St. Augustine, “our eyes should by chance fall upon others, let us take care never to fix them upon any one.” Father Manareo, when taking leave of St. Ignatius for a distant place, looked steadfastly in his face: for this look he was corrected by the saint.

From the conduct of St. Ignatius on this occasion, we learn that it was not becoming in religious to fix their eyes on the countenance of a person even of the same sex, particularly if the person is young. But I do not see how looks at young persons of a different sex can be excused from the guilt of a venial fault, or even from mortal sin, when there is proximate danger of criminal consent. “It is not lawful,” says St. Gregory, “to behold what it is not lawful to covet.”

The evil thought that proceeds from looks, though it should be rejected, never fails to leave a stain upon the soul. Brother Roger, a Franciscan of singular purity, being once asked why he was so reserved in his intercourse with women, replied, that when men avoid the occasions of sin, God preserves them; but when they expose themselves to danger, they are justly abandoned by the Lord, and easily fall into some grievous transgressions.

The indulgence of the eyes, if not productive of any other evil, at least destroys recollection during the time of prayer. For, the images and impressions caused by the objects seen before, or by the wandering of the eyes, during prayer, will occasion a thousand distractions, and banish all recollection from the soul. It is certain that without recollection a religious can pay but little attention to the practice of humility, patience, mortification, or of the other virtues. Hence it is her duty to abstain from all looks of curiosity, which distract her mind from holy thoughts. Let her eyes be directed only to objects which raise the soul to God.

St. Bernard used to say, that to fix the eyes upon the earth contributes to keep the heart in heaven. “Where,” says St. Gregory, “Christ is, there modesty is found.” Wherever Jesus Christ dwells by love, there modesty is practised.

However, I do not mean to say that the eyes should never be raised or never fixed on any object. No; but they ought to be directed only to what inspires devotion, to sacred images, and to the beauty of creation, which elevate the soul to the contemplation of the divinity.Except in looking at such objects, a religious should in general keep the eyes cast down, and particulary in places where they may fall upon dangerous objects. In conversing with men, she should never roll the eyes about to look at them, and much less to look at them a second time.

To practise modesty of the eyes is the duty of a religious, not only because it is necessary for her own improvement in virtue, but also because it is necessary for the edification of others.

God only knows the human heart: man sees only the exterior actions, and by them he is edified or scandalized. A man, says the Holy Ghost, is known by his look. By the countenance the interior is known. Hence, like St. John the Baptist, a religious should be a burning and shining light. She ought to be a torch burning with charity, and shining resplendent by her modesty, to all who behold her. To religious the following words of the Apostle are particularly applicable: We are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.” And again: Let your modesty be known to all men: the Lord is nigh. Religious are attentively observed by the angels and by men; and therefore their modesty should be made manifest before all; if they do not practise modesty, terrible shall be the account which they must render to God on the day of judgment. Oh! what devotion does a modest religious inspire, what edification does she give, by keeping her eyes always cast down!

St. Francis of Assisi once said to his companion, that he was going out to preach. After walking through the town, with his eyes fixed on the ground, he returned to the convent. His companion asked him when he would preach the sermon. We have, replied the saint, by the modesty of our looks, given an excellent instruction to all who saw us.

It is related of St. Aloysius, that when he walked through Rome the students would stand in the streets to observe and admire his great modesty.

St. Ambrose says, that to men of the world the modesty of the saints is a powerful exhortation to amendment of life.

“The look of a just man is an admonition to many.” The saint adds: “How delightful it is to do good to others by your appearance!”

It is related of St. Bernardine of Sienna, that even when a secular, his presence was sufficient to restrain the licentiousness of his young companions, who, as soon as they saw him, were accustomed to give to one another notice that he was coming. On his arrival they became silent or changed the subject of their conversation. It is also related of St. Gregory of Nyssa, and of St. Ephrem, that their very appearance inspired piety, and that the sanctity and modesty of their exterior edified and improved all that beheld them.

When Innocent II visited St. Bernard at Clairvaux, such was the exterior modesty of the saint and of his monks, that the Pope and his cardinals were moved to tears of devotion. Surius relates a very extraordinary fact of St. Lucian, a monk and martyr. By his modesty he induced so many pagans to embrace the faith, that the Emperor Maximian fearing that he should be converted to Christianity by the appearance of the saint, would not allow the holy man to be brought within his view, but spoke to him from behind a screen.

That our Redeemer was the first who taught, by his example, modesty of the eyes, may, as a learned author remarks, be inferred from the holy evangelists, who say that on some occasion he raised his eyes. “And he, lifting up his eyes on his disciples. When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes.” From these passages we may conclude that the Redeemer ordinarily kept his eyes cast down.

Hence the Apostle, praising the modesty of the Saviour, says: I beseech you, by the mildness and modesty of Christ.

I shall conclude this subject with what St. Basil said to his monks: If, my children, we desire to raise the soul towards heaven, let us direct the eyes towards the earth.

From the moment we awake in the morning, let us pray continually in the words of holy David: “Turn away my eyes, that they may not behold vanity.”