Monthly Archives: March 2014

20130324 Poor in spirit 神貧

St. Francis de Sales devoted three chapters of the Introduction to the Devout Life to explaining the virtue of poverty.
He wrote: “`Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God;’ and if so, woe to the rich in spirit, for theirs must be the bitterness of hell. By rich in spirit I mean him whose riches engross his mind, or whose mind is buried in his riches. He is poor in spirit whose heart is not filled with the love of riches, whose mind is not set upon them.”

Poverty in riches
Regarding material possessions, St. Francis de Sales wrote, “My child, our possessions are not ours. God has given them to us to cultivate, that we may make them fruitful and profitable in His service, and so doing we shall please Him.
“And this we must do more earnestly than worldly men, for they look carefully after their property out of self-love, and we must work for the love of God.”
The saint pointed out, “There is a wide difference between having poison and being poisoned.” A Christian who uses material things with the spirit of detachment would not be harmed by the possession of wealth.
Inordinate attachment to wealth harms the soul. St. John of the Cross wrote, “It is not the things of this world that either occupy the soul or cause it harm, since they enter it not, but rather the will and desire for them, for it is these that dwell within it.”
Reason and faith tell us that wealth is not an end, but a means given us by God to provide for our needs and those of our neighbour. Moreover, riches pass away with time; we cannot take them along with us to the next world.

Charity and trust
Christ Himself joined the exercise of charity to that of poverty by saying, “Sell what you have and give it to the poor” (Mt 19:21).
Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen commented, “If we detach our hearts from earthly goods, the spirit of poverty will make us generous toward the needy.”
The most effective way of detaching ourselves from riches is to invest our wealth in the bank of heaven by giving generously to the poor and to good works.
Christ also joined the exercise of poverty to that of trust in divine Providence. He said, “You cannot be the slave both of God and of money. That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!”
“So do not worry; do not say, ‘What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?’ It is the gentiles who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on His kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well” (Mt 6:24-33).
Father Gabriel explained, “The spirit of poverty will not be lasting and profound unless it is based on confidence in divine Providence. It is only when we trust in God and in His word, which will never fail, that we shall have the courage to put aside all excessive preoccupation with temporal affairs.”
“Jesus does not wish the solicitude which would engulf us entirely in temporal affairs; this would indicate not only an excessive attachment to earthly things, but also a lack of confidence in divine Providence.”
We should seek security in God and not in wealth.

















基督又把神貧與信賴天主照顧相連。祂說:「你們不能事奉天主而又事奉錢財。為此,我告訴你們:不要為你們的生命憂慮吃什麼,或喝什麼;也不要為你們的身體憂慮穿什麼。難道生命不是貴於食物,身體不是貴於衣服嗎?…… 所以,你們不要憂慮說:我們吃什麼、喝什麼、穿什麼?因為這一切都是外邦人所尋求的;你們的天父原曉得你們需要這一切。你們先尋求天主的國和它的義德,這一切自會加給你們。(瑪竇福音6:24-25, 31-33)」







20130317 Chastity leads to charity 潔德導向愛德

A spiritual author wrote, “Chastity is rightly called the angelic virtue, because it likens us to the angels, who are pure by nature. It is an austere virtue, because we do not succeed in practising it unless we subdue the body and the senses by mortification.
“It is a frail virtue, tarnished by the least wilful failing. On this account it is a difficult virtue, since it cannot be observed except by a generous and constant struggle against the most tyrannical of passions.”

Two kinds
There are two kinds of chastity: continence proper to the unmarried, and conjugal chastity proper to persons living in lawful wedlock.
Regarding the first kind of chastity, St. Francis de Sales wrote, “The unmarried need a very simple sensitive purity which will drive away all over-curious thoughts and teach them to despise all merely sensual satisfactions.
“The young are apt to imagine that of which they are ignorant to be wondrous sweet, and as the foolish moth hovers around a light, and, persisting in coming too near, perishes in its inquisitive folly, so they perish through their unwise approach to forbidden pleasures.”
Regarding the second kind, the saint pointed out that conjugal chastity “lies not in total abstinence from carnal pleasures, but in self-control amid pleasures.”
Both kinds of chastity are on the path of love of God. Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote, “God has two kinds of lovers: those who go directly to the ultimate, such as the celibate, and those who go mediately through marriage.”
Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen wrote, “One who embraces the married state becomes a collaborator with God in the transmission of life to others; one who consecrates himself to God by a vow of chastity becomes his collaborator in the transmission of the life of grace to others.
“The person who is consecrated to God sacrifices material fecundity for a far superior, spiritual fecundity, natural paternity or maternity for supernatural paternity or maternity.”

Purity of heart
St. Francis de Sales said, “Chastity of body is common enough even among unbelievers and persons addicted to other vices. But very few can say truthfully, ‘My heart is chaste.'”
The saint defined chastity of heart as a complete renunciation of all illicit affections. The other aspect of chastity of heart consists in the purity of intention of seeing God in all things and all things in God.
Prayer and work help the heart to be pure. St. John Bosco urged young people to avoid idleness. When we are absorbed in study or work, our mind can be filled with wholesome thoughts.
St. Jerome wrote, “Love the knowledge of Scripture, and you will no longer love the sins of the flesh…. Always have some work on hand, that the devil may find you busy.”
Frequent confession, love for the Holy Eucharist, and devotion to Our Lady fill our heart with love and devotion. They are effective means for the preservation of chastity.

Flight from dangers
St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Be exceedingly quick in turning aside from the slightest thing leading to impurity, for it is an evil which approaches stealthily, and in which the very smallest beginnings are apt to grow rapidly. It is always easier to fly from such evils than to cure them.”
“Do not associate with immodest persons…. On the contrary, associate with chaste and virtuous persons.”
Mortification of the senses is a guardian of chastity. Holy Scripture carefully recommends the guarding of the eyes: “Gaze not upon a maiden: lest her beauty be a stumbling block to you…. Turn away your face from a woman dressed up; and gaze not about upon another’s beauty.”
Mortification of the heart is also very important. The saints exhort us to mortify the imagination and to abandon useless day-dreaming.
“In loving you, O Christ, I am chaste; in touching you, I am pure; in possessing you, I am a virgin!” said St. Agnes.





































20130310 Obedience consecrates heart 聽命聖化心靈

St. Francis de Sales devoted a chapter in his Introduction to the Devout Life to the virtue of obedience. He wrote, “Charity alone leads to perfection, but the three chief means for acquiring it are obedience, chastity, and poverty.
“Obedience consecrates our heart, chastity our body, and poverty our worldly goods to the love and service of God. These are the three branches of the spiritual cross, and all three must be raised upon the fourth, which is humility.”
The saint pointed out that there are two kinds of obedience, one necessary, the other voluntary. Obedience to lawful superiors is necessary obedience, whereas obedience to a confessor or spiritual director is voluntary obedience, for we do not choose our own sovereign or bishop, father or mother, but we do choose our confessor and spiritual director.

Submissive spirit
St. Francis de Sales recommends that we have a submissive spirit not only to superiors, but to equals and inferiors as well.
He wrote, “If you would acquire a ready obedience to superiors, accustom yourself to yield to your equals, giving way to their opinions where nothing wrong is involved, without arguing or peevishness; and adapt yourself easily to the wishes of your inferiors as far as you reasonably can, and avoid the exercise of stern authority so long as they do well.”
Bishop Jean Pierre Camus, a friend of St. Francis de Sales, wrote, “Because we are obliged to acknowledge our superiors as our masters, submission to them is better looked upon as justice rather than humility.
“Submission to equals is friendship and courtesy. Submission to inferiors, however, is the real test of humility, because it is in this act that we actually confess ourselves to be nothing, and prostrate ourselves before the whole world.”

Virtue of great value
St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote, “God, Who is all-knowing and all-wise, knows best what we should do to increase His glory. Through His representatives on earth He continually reveals His will to us; thus it is obedience and obedience alone that is the sure sign to us of the divine will.
“A superior may, it is true, make a mistake; but it is impossible for us to be mistaken in obeying a superior’s command. The only exception to this rule is the case of a superior’s commanding something that in even the slightest way would contravene God’s law.”
Another spiritual author wrote, “We need not hesitate through fear that the superior is asking something less perfect. Even if he commands what is objectively less perfect than its alternative (for instance, to take some rest instead of working), it would nevertheless be the more perfect thing for us.
“By the simple fact that the superior has expressed an order, it is clearly the fulfilment of that, and not something else, that God wants from us at the moment.”
St. John of the Cross said, “Obedience is a penance of the soul, and for that reason a sacrifice more acceptable than all corporal penances. Thence it happens that God loves more the least degree of obedience in you, than all the other services you may think to render him.”
Our Lord told St. Faustina, “My daughter, know that you give Me greater glory by a single act of obedience than by long prayers and mortifications.”
On another occasion Our Lord said, “Anything, no matter how small it be, that has the seal of obedience to my representative, is pleasing to Me and great in My eyes.”
Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, author of My Catholic Faith, wrote, “If we fast, give alms, or lose our reputation for God’s sake, we only give a part of ourselves. But if we give perfect obedience, we sacrifice our will; we give all we have. We have nothing more to give.”