20140203 Christians practice virtues 基督徒需要修德

“The practice of virtues” is the focus of the third part of St. Francis de Sales’s An Introduction to the Devout Life.
The saint counsels each person to seek chiefly to advance in those virtues required by the particular state of life to which God has called him. Among those virtues not especially involved by our position we should cultivate the most excellent rather than the most showy. If we are hindered by some particular vice, we should cultivate the opposite virtue.

Foot of the cross
The picture of St. Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross was especially revered by St. Francis de Sales, and he sometimes called it a whole library of his thoughts. One day he saw a painting on this subject in the home of Bishop Jean Pierre Camus of Belley. He said that we should carefully cultivate the little virtues which grow beneath the foot of the cross.
Bishop Camus asked the saint what virtues he was referring to. The saint answered, “Humility, patience, gentleness, kindness, forbearance, calmness, good temper, heartiness, pity, ready forgiveness, simplicity, frankness, and so on. These virtues are like violets growing in a shady nook, fed by the dew of heaven, and, though unseen, they give forth a sweet and precious odour.”
“What, then, can be found at the top of the cross itself?” Bishop Camus inquired.
The saint replied, “Plenty. You will find there many bright and shining graces, provided they are formed in the spirit of love: virtues like prudence, justice, magnificence, liberality, almsgiving, strength, bodily mortification, obedience, contemplation, perseverance, contempt of wealth and honour, and many such as these.
“Men are more anxious for these virtues because they win praise. But to be truthful we should value them only insofar as we can please God by their means and discover new ways of proving to Him our love.”
Bishop Camus wrote that St. Francis “considered the most general virtues to be the most preferred, charity only excepted. Thus he valued prayer as the light which illuminates all our good works; devotion, which consecrates all our actions to God’s service; humility, which makes us have only lowly thoughts of ourselves and our works; gentleness, which yields to all; patience, which endures everything.
“These he valued more than magnanimity, liberality, or magnificence, because such virtues affect fewer subjects. He was always suspicious of showy virtues, because he said they tend to feed vainglory, the plague of all good works.”

‘Make haste slowly’
St. Francis de Sales was very fond of an ancient emperor’s motto, “Make haste slowly.” The saint always cautioned people against thinking that perfection is to be found in a multiplicity of religious exercises.
He urged his penitents to avoid over-eagerness. He often said: “It is far better to do a few things well than to undertake many good works and leave them half-done.” He once said, “It is not by the multiplicity of things we do that we attain perfection, but by the perfection and purity of intention with which we do them.”
He said, “What do I mean by doing a good work perfectly? Of course I mean good works performed in a state of grace, as otherwise they would not only be imperfect, but of no value as regards eternity.
“Well, such actions must be performed, first, with a great fervour; second, with a great purposefulness; and third, with great purity of intention. Is it not true, then, that one such action is far better than many done, first, coldly; second, irresolutely; and third, without the purity of intention?”

聖方濟.沙雷的「熱心引」第三部份,集中討論「修德」。

 

聖人主張先修那些與生活崗位有關的德行,其次是修最完善而非最顯著的德行。如生活上有惡習,則應修相反的德行。

 

十字聖架之下

 

一天,聖方濟.沙雷在百里主教若望.嘉模住所內,看到聖瑪大利納留守在耶穌苦架下的畫像,隨即認為在苦架下,能啟發一些小德行。

 

嘉模主教詢問聖人此語何來,聖人答道:「那些小德行包括謙遜、含忍、溫良、和善、克制、平靜、柔順、誠心、憐憫、寬恕、樸實、坦誠等等這些小德行,就如長在不顯眼蔭蔽處的紫羅蘭,只靠來自天上點滴的甘露維生,暗暗地散發芬芳。」

 

嘉模主教續問聖人:「苦架頂上,我們又能找到些什麼呢?」聖人答道:「噢!很多!我們看到光芒四射的聖寵,由愛德所孕育,如智德、義德、慷慨、施捨、勇毅、克苦、聽命、默觀、堅忍、輕視名利等等。很多人願意修成這些德行,為得讚譽;但為能真誠,我們珍視這些德行是為鍾悅天主,並為尋覓新的方法來證明對天主的愛。」

 

嘉模主教回憶寫道:「方濟認為,除了愛德,我們應最喜愛一般的德行。所以他珍視祈禱能光照我們所有的善行;熱心能奉獻一切活動為天主服務;謙遜箝制自我及所言所行;溫良包容所有人;含忍承受一切。他視這些德行比較慷慨、雅量等德行更為寶貴,因為涵蓋範疇更見廣闊。他對於顯著的德行很小心,恐怕助紂虛榮心,腐朽了所有善工。」

 

 

欲速不達

 

聖方濟.沙雷很喜歡古代一位君王的銘言:「欲速則不達」。聖人恐防有人誤解,只要作多種靈修活動,便可成聖。他告誡不能過份熱切。常言道:「從小量作開始,別急進以致半途而廢… 並非多做多勞便可成聖,卻首先要有一個純正和真誠的內心。」

 

聖人續說:「何謂完善的善功?我是指那些在天主聖寵內的工作!否則,任何工作都難以完善,甚至遑論裨益永生。行善之初,先要有一顆熱誠的心,其次是果斷,百折不撓,最後是要有純正的意向。假如以冷漠的心,猶疑不決,心意不純地行事,我們又怎能期盼滿有成果的善工呢?」

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