Monthly Archives: May 2014

20140505 Serving God in the world 在世上侍奉天主

One of the important messages of the pontificate of St. John Paul II is the universal call to holiness. St. Francis de Sales gave practical advice to people of different vocations for the sanctification their daily lives.

Holy matrimony
St. Francis exhorted married couples to have mutual love that is not merely natural and human, but supernatural. He said with St. Paul, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church…. Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22, 25).
The saint pointed out that the first result of the love of holy matrimony is the indissoluble union of the hearts. The second result of this love is inviolable fidelity.
He explained, “In olden times finger-rings were wont to be graven as seals. We read of it in Holy Scripture, and this explains the meaning of the marriage ceremony, when the Church, by the hand of her priest, blesses a ring, and gives it first to the man in token that she sets a seal on his heart by this sacrament, so that no thought of any other woman may ever enter therein so long as she, who now is given to him, shall live.
“Then the bridegroom places the ring on the bride’s hand, so that she in her turn may know that she must never conceive any affection in her heart for any other man so long as he shall live who is now given to her by Our Lord Himself.”
The third end of marriage is procreation and the bringing up of children. The saint wrote, “And surely it is a great honour to be permitted to increase the number of souls whom God will save, and who will serve Him through all eternity; your part being to bring forth those bodies, into which He will infuse an immortal soul.”

Love and life
St. Francis cautioned married couples not to turn love into jealousy. He wrote, “Of a truth, jealousy never arises where love is built up on true virtue, and therefore it is a sure sign of an earthly, sensual love, in which mistrust and inconstancy is soon infused.
“It is a sorry kind of friendship which seeks to strengthen itself by jealousy; for though jealousy may be a sign of strong love, it is certainly no sign of a good, pure, perfect attachment; and that because perfect love implies absolute trust in the person loved, whereas jealousy implies uncertainty.”
Children are the great blessing of God in marriage. The mother of St. Bernard offered her children to Christ as soon as they were born. St. Francis pointed out that as soon as children are capable of exercising reason, both parents should carefully seek to impress on their hearts the love of God.
St. Francis recommended the celebration of the anniversary of a wedding with confession, Communion, and fervent prayer.

Pure of heart
St. Paul said, “Honour widows that are widows indeed.” St. Francis pointed out that a true widow is a widow not only in body, but also in heart; that is, she will have an inviolable resolution to continue in the state of holy widowhood.
The saint also pointed out that the renunciation of a second marriage must be done in purity and simplicity, so as to centre all affections more wholly on God. Prayer should be the continual exercise of a woman in the state of holy widowhood.
The saint urged the unmarried to keep their hearts pure so that they can more fittingly give and commit themselves either in marriage or in the state of holy virginity.
“Have you noticed how human love consists of little things? Well, divine love also consists of little things,” said St. Josemaria Escriva.


























20140428 Serve God in daily life 每天侍奉天主


St. Francis de Sales teaches us to be faithful in small things, to have a just and reasonable mind, and to regulate our desires.


Faithfulness in small things


St. Francis wrote,Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily; and our Lord Himself has told us that ‘he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.’ If you do all in God’s name, all you do will be well done, whether you eat, drink or sleep, whether you amuse yourself or turn the spit, so long as you do all wisely, you will gain greatly as in God’s sight, doing all because He would have you do it.”


The Bishop of Belley wrote regarding St. Francis, “He surely practiced what he preached, for he was the most faithful man I ever knew. Not only was he very precise and reverent in every ceremony no matter how small— at the altar, in choir or in public office— but also in his private devotions. It was the same in his social habits; he never omitted anything.”


Just and reasonable


St. Francis wrote, “Reason is the special characteristic of man, and yet it is a rare thing to find really reasonable men….We find fault with our neighbor very readily for a small matter, while we pass over great things in ourselves. We strive to sell dear and buy cheap. We are eager to deal out strict justice to others, but to obtain indulgence for ourselves. We expect a good construction to be put on all we say, but we are sensitive and critical as to our neighbor’s words…… If some inferior is unacceptable to us, or we have once caught him in error, he is sure to be wrong in our eyes whatever he may do, and we are for ever thwarting, or looking coldly on him, while, on the other hand, some one who happens to please us is sure to be right.”


The saint advises us to put ourselves into our neighbor’s place, and to put our neighbor in our place. He wrote, “Sell as you would buy, and buy as you would sell, and your buying and selling will alike be honest.”


Our desires

St. Francis reminds us to avoid evil desires and urges us not to desire things which are dangerous to the soul. The saint also warns us not to indulge in longings after events which as yet are far distant, for they only distract and weary the heart.

He wrote, “If a young man gives way to overweening longings for an employment he cannot obtain yet a while, what good will it do him? If a married woman sets her heart on becoming a religious, or if I crave to buy my neighbor’s estate, he not being willing to sell it, is it not mere waste of time? If, when sick, I am restlessly anxious to preach or celebrate, to visit other sick people, or generally to do work befitting the strong, is it not an unprofitable desire, inasmuch as I have no power to fulfill it? And meanwhile these useless wishes take the place of such as I ought to have,– namely, to be patient, resigned, self-denying, obedient, gentle under suffering,–which are what God requires of me under the circumstances….. I can never think it well for one whose vocation is clear to waste time in wishing for some different manner of life than that which is adapted to his duty, or practices unsuitable to his present position–it is mere idling, and will make him slack in his needful work.“

May we all have the ardent desire to serve God faithfully in the ordinariness of our daily duties.
















































20140421 Recreations refresh us 消遣抖擻精神

St. Francis de Sales devoted four chapters of his Introduction to the Devout Life to the topic of amusements and recreations. The saint wrote, “We must needs occasionally relax the mind, and the body requires some recreation also.
“Cassian relates that St. John the Evangelist was found by a certain hunter amusing himself by caressing a partridge, which sat upon his wrist. The hunter asked how a man of his mental powers could find time for so trifling an occupation.
“In reply, St. John asked why he did not always carry his bow strung. The man answered, ‘for fear lest if it were always bent, the bow would lose its power when really wanted.’ ‘Do not marvel then,’ the apostle replied, ‘if I slacken my mental efforts from time to time, and recreate myself, in order to return more vigorously to contemplation.’
“It is a great mistake to be so strict as to grudge any recreation either to others or oneself.”
“Walking, harmless games, instrumental or vocal music, field sports, etc., are such entirely lawful recreations that they need no rules beyond those of ordinary discretion, which keep everything within due limits of time, place, and degree.
“So again games of skill, which exercise and strengthen body or mind, such as tennis, rackets, running at the ring, chess, and the like, are in themselves both lawful and good.
“Only one must avoid excess, either in the time given to them, or the amount of interest they absorb; for if too much time be given up to such things, they cease to be a recreation and become an occupation; and so far from resting and restoring mind or body, they have precisely the contrary effect.”

Games of chance
St. Francis de Sales discouraged games of chance such as dice and cards. He wrote, “The winner in such games does not win on his deserts but according to chance, and the luck which often falls to those who have exercised neither skill nor industry.”
“Gain, which should be the reward of industry, becomes the reward of luck, which can deserve no reward since it is no way dependent upon us.”
“Although these games are called recreations, they are in truth most absorbing occupations…. Furthermore, the only gratification in play is to win, and is not that unrighteous gratification, which can only be obtained by the losses and harm of another? Surely such pleasure is an unrighteous one.”

Balls and dances
St. Francis de Sales pointed out that balls and dances are in themselves matters of indifference. However, he cautioned that “those who go to a ball carry vanity with them; and vanity has a great tendency to excite bad passions and blamable affections.”
The saint wrote, “I am inclined to say about balls what doctors say of certain articles of food, such as mushrooms and the like: the best are not good for much; but if eat them you must, at least mind that they are properly cooked.
“So if circumstances over which you have no control take you into such places, be watchful how you prepare to enter them. Let the dish be seasoned with moderation, dignity, and good intentions.
“The doctors say (still referring to the mushrooms), eat sparingly of them, and that but seldom, for, however well dressed, an excess is harmful. So dance but little, and that rarely, my child, lest you run the risk of growing over-fond of the amusement.”
“It is said that after eating mushrooms you should drink some good wine. So after frequenting balls you should frame pious thoughts which may counteract the dangerous impressions made by such empty pleasures on your heart.”