Monthly Archives: April 2014

20140414 Words communicate truth 言語傳遞真理

St. Francis de Sales pointed out that our words are a faithful index to the state of our soul. He wrote, “Our hand is quickly raised to the spot where we are wounded, and our tongue turns as quickly to the subject we delight in.”
If we love God, we will frequently speak of Him. The saint said, “Always speak of God as God, by which I mean reverently and piously, never pompously as if you were preaching, but with gentleness, charity, and humility.”
The saint pointed out that we should not use many words that are unprofitable. In conversation, quality matters more than quantity.
He wrote, “Our aim should be to avoid both extremes. An excessive reserve and stiffness, which stands aloof from familiar friendly conversation, is untrusting, and implies a certain sort of contemptuous pride; while an incessant chatter and babble, leaving no opportunity for others to put in their word, is frivolous and troublesome.”

Modesty in conversation
St. Francis urged the faithful to exercise modesty in conversation and to avoid any impure expressions. He wrote, “The body is poisoned through the mouth, even so is the heart through the ear; and the tongue which does the deed is a murderer.”
The saint advised that “If any foolish person addresses you in unseemly language, show that you are displeased by turning away, or by whatever other method your discretion may indicate.”
We should avoid a spirit of mockery in conversation. However, a play upon words, in all modesty and good-humour, is not harmful. Only we must beware of turning it into mockery, which causes laughter at the expense of our neighbour.

Sins against truth
St. Francis warned against the sins of rash judgment, detraction, and slander. A person commits the sin of rash judgment when, without sufficient reason, he believes something harmful to another’s character.
The saint pointed out that we must seek the motives of rash judgments in order to cure it. Some people judge others harshly out of bitterness or pride. Others do so to excuse their own vices or through a feeling of dislike. A good remedy against rash judgment is charity, for “Charity thinks no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5).
St. Francis wrote, “It is not always wrong to doubt our neighbours. We are forbidden to judge, not to doubt; but still we should not indulge doubt or suspicion without great caution, and only insofar as these are based on reason and argument, otherwise our doubts and suspicions are rash.”
A person commits the sin of detraction when, without good reason, he makes known the hidden faults of another, and a person commits the sin of calumny or slander when by lying he injures the good name of another.
St. Francis wrote, “He who unjustly takes away his neighbour’s good name is guilty of sin and is bound to make reparation, according to the nature of his evil speaking; since no man can enter into heaven cumbered with stolen goods, and of all worldly possessions the most precious is a good name.”
“Slander is a kind of murder; for we all have three lives: a spiritual life, which depends upon the grace of God; a bodily life, depending on the soul; and a civil life, consisting in a good reputation. Sin deprives us of the first, death of the second, and slander of the third.”
“But the slanderer commits three several murders with his idle tongue: he destroys his own soul and that of him who hearkens, as well as causing civil death to the object of his slander; for, as Saint Bernard says, the devil has possession both of the slanderer and of those who listen to him, of the tongue of the one, the ear of the other.”


























20140407 Mortification gives freedom 從克苦獲得自由

A spirit of sacrifice is essential for the Christian life. It is expressed by acts of penance and mortification. The chief purpose of acts of penance is to cleanse the soul from past sins, whereas the chief purpose of mortification is to safeguard us against sin in the present and in the future by weakening in us the love of pleasure.
Mortification is the struggle against our evil inclinations in order to subject them to the human will, and to the will of God. It is necessary for the avoidance of sin and for personal sanctification; it also allows us to co-operate with Christ in the salvation of mankind.
In 1916 an angel said to Lucia of Fatima, “Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country.”

Exterior senses
St. Vincent de Paul pointed out, “Mortification of the appetite is the A, B, C of spiritual life. Whoever cannot control himself in this will hardly be able to conquer temptations more difficult to subdue.”
The rules of fasting and abstinence prescribed by the Church help us to practise mortification. In our daily life, we can easily practise mortification at table by eating more of the food we like less and eating less of the food we like more.
Mortification in speech is essential for perfection. St. James wrote, “For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also” (Jas 3:2).
Commenting on this passage, St. Francis de Sales said, “One of things that keep us at a distance from perfection is, without doubt, our tongue. For when one has gone so far as to commit no faults in speaking, the Holy Spirit Himself assures us that he is perfect.
“And since the worst way of speaking is to speak too much, speak little and well, little and gently, little and simply, little and charitably, little and amiably.”
St. John Berchmans said, “I never say anything without first considering it, and recommending it to God, that I may say nothing which can displease Him.”
Christians practise modesty of the eyes by avoiding whatever is sinful or dangerous. The earnest Christian mortifies the sense of sight by repressing idle, curious glances and by duly controlling his eyes in all simplicity.
St. Francis de Sales said, “Believe me that the mortification of the senses in seeing, hearing, and speaking is worth much more than wearing chains or haircloth.”
We can also exercise mortification by going to bed and getting up at the proper time, and by being temperate in the use of the Internet and other devices of communication.

Interior senses
Memory and imagination are good, but if undisciplined, they can crowd the soul with distractions and temptations. The first step to mortify our interior senses is to expel all dangerous fancies and recollections the very moment we are aware of them.
Since frequent day-dreaming is a source of temptation, we must mortify ourselves against useless fancies, which constitute a waste of time and pave way to more dangerous thoughts. The saints tell us that mortifying idle thoughts deals death to evil ones.
A good method is to apply ourselves whole-heartedly to the fulfillment of our daily duties, and to apply our memory and imagination to spiritual things.
Mortification frees us from being dominated by our lower instinct, and allows us to be guided by sound reason and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.





























20140331 Charity grows in communication 愛德在交往中增長

Friendship is an interchange and a mutual communication between two persons. True friendship is a great means of sanctification, but false friendship is a serious obstacle to perfection.

True friendship
St. Francis de Sales wrote, “The more exquisite are the virtues which shall be the matter of your communications, the more perfect shall your friendship also be. If this communication be in the sciences, the friendship is very commendable; but still more so if it be in the moral virtues: in prudence, discretion, fortitude, and justice.
“But should your reciprocal communications relate to charity, devotion, and Christian perfection, good God, how precious will this friendship be! It will be excellent, because it comes from God; excellent, because it tends to God; excellent, because its very bond is God. Good it is to love on earth as they love in heaven; to learn to cherish each other in this world, as we shall do eternally in the next!”
Father Adolphe Tanquerey, author of The Spiritual Life, pointed out that “true friendship is an intercourse between two souls with the purpose of procuring each other’s good. It stays within the limits of moral goodness if the good mutually shared belongs to the natural order.
“Supernatural friendship, however, stands on a far superior plane. It is the intimate intercourse of two souls who love each other in God and for God with a view of aiding each other to attain the perfection of the divine life which they possess. The ultimate end of this friendship is God’s glory, the proximate end is their own spiritual progress, and the bond of union between the two friends is Our Lord.”
Supernatural friendship is marked by calm reserve and mutual trust. “Calm” means self-possessed affection rooted in the love of God. “Reserve”: instead of seeking familiarities and endearments like sentimental friendship, it is full of respect and reserve, for it seeks nothing but spiritual good. “Mutual trust” is confidence raised from mutual esteem and from seeing in the other a reflection of the divine perfections.
Counsel, comfort, and protection are the three important advantages of true friendship.
A friend can act as a sympathetic counsellor who helps to find solutions to life’s difficulties. A friend can comfort us by listening to us and by words of kindness and encouragement. A friend is a protector of virtue by allowing us to open our hearts in times of need and support, and by correcting us.

False friendship
In true friendship one truly loves a person, but in false friendship one mainly loves the pleasure of being with the person. True friendship is based on faith, will, and reason, whereas false friendship is based on feeling and pleasure.
Father Tanquerey wrote, “St. Francis de Sales distinguishes three types of false friendships: carnal friendship, in which one seeks voluptuous pleasure; sentimental friendship, based mainly on the appeal outward qualities make to the emotions, such as the pleasure of beholding a beautiful person, of hearing a sweet voice, of touch, and the like; and foolish friendship, which has no other foundation than those empty accomplishments styled by shallow minds virtues and perfections, such as graceful dancing, clever playing, delightful singing, fashionable dressing, smiling glances, a pleasing appearance, etc.”
False friendship distracts the heart from God and constitutes one of the greatest obstacles to spiritual progress. It can easily cause loss of time, discouragement, and impurity.
Sometimes our friendships may have elements of both true and false friendship. If it is the element of true friendship that predominates, we may continue such friendship while purifying it, but if it is the element of false friendship that predominates, we must renounce all special relations for a considerable period to allow sentiment to cool down.
“A loyal friend is a powerful defence: whoever finds one has indeed found a treasure” (Sir 6:14).





聖方濟.沙雷寫道:「人互相的交往愈是包含著細膩的德行,友誼便愈瑧完美。假如這些交往是與學術有關,那友誼是可稱許的。若交往是在德行的層面: 智德、明辨、勇德和義德,友誼便更值得稱許。又假如這樣的交往與愛德、敬主和成聖融匯一起,這樣的友誼更見珍貴:它是優質的,因為來自天主;它是優質的,因為正邁向天主;它是優質的,因為是在天主內緊密地結合。去愛猶如在天堂上的愛,真有福!學習如何互相珍惜,就如同在天堂上一樣!」