Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bishop Francis de Sales (1567-1622)

(From Treatise on the Love of God, Chapter 6)

"There are souls that make great projects to do excellent services for Our Saviour, by eminent actions and extraordinary sufferings, but actions and sufferings of which there is no opportunity, and perhaps never will be, and who upon this apprehend they have done a great matter in love, in which they are very often deceived: as appears in this, that embracing in desire, as seems to them, great future crosses, they anxiously avoid the burden of such as are present, which are less. Is it not an extreme temptation to be so valiant in imagination, and so cowardly in execution?

Ah! God preserve us from those imaginary fervours, which very often breed a vain and secret self-esteem in the bottom of our hearts. Great works lie not always in our way, but every moment we may do little ones with excellence, that is, with a great love. Behold that saint, I beg you, who bestows a cup of cold water on the thirsty traveller; he does but a small matter in outward show, but the intention, the sweetness, the love, with which he animates his work is so excellent, that it turns this simple water into water of life, and of eternal life...

Truly, in the low and little works of devotion, charity is not only practised more frequently, but ordinarily more humbly too, and consequently more usefully and more holily.

Those condescensions to the humours of others, that bearing with the clownish and troublesome actions and ways of our neighbour, those victories over our own humours and passions, those renouncings of our lesser inclinations, that effort against our aversions and repugnances, that heartfelt and sweet acknowledgment of our own imperfections, the continual pains we take to keep our souls in equality, that love of our abjection, that gentle and gracious welcome we give to the contempt and censure of our condition, of our life, of our conversation, of our actions: ...all these things are more profitable to our souls than we can conceive, if heavenly love have the management of them..." 

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