St. Francis de Sales on How to Live in the World August 18, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Christendom, Domestic Church, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
From Thy Will Be Done: 58 Letters by St. Francis de Sales, advice given to a young, pious man who had to go live at the notoriously decadent French court, on how to maintain his virtue and practice of the Faith in such a harmful environment.
Today, however, almost the entire world is even more decadent and amoral than even the worst of the baroque period courts of Europe. We are all forced to live in a moral sewer, with those of us who have to go out into the world every day to work or otherwise interact with an increasingly satanic society facing the gravest threat.
St. Francis de Sales advice to this young man on how to keep his virtue and maintain his strong faith is, then, of great use to all of us. I pray you will find these excerpts from pp. 72-75 useful:
[S]ir…….continue to nourish your soul with divine meats, for they will make us strong against vanity and just against ambition.
Keep carefully to frequent Communion: believe me, you could do nothing more certain to strengthen yourself in virtue. To make yourself quite safe in this practice, put yourself under the orders of some good confessor, and beseech him to charge himself with making you give an account in Confession of the failures you may make in this exercise, if by chance you make any. Always confess humbly, and with a true and express purpose of amendment.
I solemnly implore you: before leaving your home in the morning, never forget to ask on your knees for the help of our Lord; and before going to bed at night, never forget to ask for the pardon of your sins.
Especially beware of bad books; and for nothing in the world let your soul be carried away by certain writings that weak brains admire, because of some vain subtleties that they find in them. Such are the works of certain of our age, who profess to doubt everything, to despise everything, and to scoff at all the maxims of antiquity. On the contrary, read books of solid doctrine – especially Christian and spiritual ones – for recreation from time to time……..[Of course, we have much, much more than bad books to be concerned about in this our age. While bad books can be particularly devastating, probably nothing is more destructive than the electronic media, most especially, the television and internet. A local priest just gave a very strong sermon asking parents whether they really need the internet in their homes. This is a very tough matter, because many homeschooling programs are internet-based or highly dependent on internet access. But the priest has heard the confessions of so many young people, most all of them from families assisting at the TLM, who are addicted to internet porn, that it is really something to consider, whether the internet is really vitally necessary. At the very least, you MUST have a very robust filter. TV is full of filth these days, too, and, even worse, is one of the prime means by which the powers that be indoctrinate people in the culture of sexular paganism and religious indifference. Beware of both.]
………I would wish that, first, in speech, in bearing, and in relations with others, you should make open and express profession of wishing to live virtuously, judiciously, perseveringly, and as a Christian.
I say “virtuously” that no one may attempt to engage you in immoralities. “Judiciously,” that you may not show extreme signs, exteriorly, of your intentions [towards piety]…..
…”Perseveringly,” because unless you show with perseverance an equal and inviolable will, you will expose your resolutions to the designs and attempts of many miserable souls, who attack others to draw them to their company.
Lastly, I say “as a Christian,” because some make profession of wishing to be virtuous philosophically, who, however, are not so, and can in no way be so, and who are nothing else but phantoms of virtue, using their graceful manners and words to hide their bad life and ways from those who are not familiar with them.
But we, who well know that we cannot have a single particle of virtue but by the Grace of our Lord – we must employ piety and holy devotion to live virtuously; otherwise we shall have virtues only in imagination and in shadow…..
….It is also of the greatest importance to make some friends who have the same aim, with whom you can associate and strengthen yourself. For it is a very true thing that the company of well-regulated souls is extremely useful to us to keep our own soul well-regulated [This is so key, and one of the greatest challenges of these dark times, finding pious souls to associate with, to grow with, to even compete with, in a holy sense, in the practice of virtue. This is one of the enormous, often unseen benefits of belonging to an explicitly traditional parish, where there are many souls driven to serve our Lord with a powerful fervor. The breakdown of the old Catholic neighborhoods and Catholic culture is one of the most pernicious influences of our times, and it was done, according to E. Michael Jones and others, quite deliberately]……..
……..I wish you further, a vigorous heart. Do not flatter your body by delicacies in eating, sleeping, and other such softnesses; for a generous heart has always a little contempt for bodily comforts and pleasures…….
…..I mean, then, that I would like you to sometimes correct your body so far as to make it feel some rigors and hardships by contempt for delicacies and by frequent denial of things agreeable to the senses. Again, reason must sometimes exercise its superiority and the authority that it has to control the sensual appetites…….[Once again, this fallen age tells us to satisfy our every desire in an instant. It is the ultimate culture of self-gratification on demand. TV is one a great one for creating such disordered appetites. No wonder so many self-described Catholics today view self-denial as an intolerable imposition]
……In a word, that is what we must seek: to be no less brave for being Christian and no less Christian for being brave. For this we must be very good Christians – that is, very devout, pious, and if possible, spiritual. For, as St. Paul says: “the spiritual man discerneth all things” (I Cor ii:15). He knows at what time, in what order, and by what method each virtue must be practiced.
Form often this good thought, that we are walking in this world between Paradise and hell, and that our last step will place us in an eternal dwelling. We do not know which step will be our last, and so, in order to make our last step well, we must try to make all the others well. [Such excellent advice]
O holy and unending eternity! Blessed is he who thinks of you. Yes, for what do we play here in this world but a children’s game for who knows how many days? It would be nothing whatever, if it were not the passage of eternity. [Which is why the West is now sunk into a suicidal nihilism – having rejected God, and recognizing the emptiness of a strictly material existence, more and more souls see life as meaningless, nothing more than a continuous series of pleasures that leave the soul more empty than it was before. Little wonders Westerners are now so enervated they cannot even bother to reproduce. Without God, there is no point to existence, and all falls to decay and ruin.]
On this account, therefore, we must pay attention to the time we have to dwell here below, and to all our occupations, so as to employ them in the conquest of the permanent good………
Well that’s long enough. Saint Francis de Sales, pray for us, pray for the conversion of this increasingly dark and fallen world, and for the restoration of Holy Mother Church!