In the fourth part of An Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales makes some helpful remarks about ordinary trials and temptations. He first points out the need for courage in the devout life.
Not of the world
Christ said, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (Jn 15:19).
St. Francis points out that the world will not say a word against people who pass the whole night, even several in succession, playing chess or cards. It also will not complain of people spending many nights dancing. But it will not tolerate people give up an hour to meditation, or getting up earlier than usual to prepare for Holy Communion, or keeping watch on Christmas Eve.
The world is an unjust judge; indulgent and kindly to its own children, but harsh and uncharitable to the children of God.
The saint points out that it is impossible to satisfy the world, for it is too exacting. He writes, “The world always thinks evil; and if it cannot find fault with our actions, it will attack our motives.”
The world, he says, is “ever casting its evil eye upon us; nothing we can do will please it. It exaggerates our failings, and publishes them abroad as sins; it represents our venial sins as mortal, and our sins of infirmity as malicious.”
“Let us leave the blind world to make as much noise as it may, like a bat molesting the songbirds of day; let us be firm in our ways and unchangeable in our resolutions, and perseverance will be the test of our self-surrender to God, and our deliberate choice of the devout life.”
“The planets and a wandering comet shine with much the same brightness, but the comet’s is a passing blaze, which does not linger long, while the planets cease not to display their brightness.
“Even so, hypocrisy and real goodness have much outward resemblance; but one is easily known from the other, inasmuch as hypocrisy is short-lived, and disperses like a mist, while real goodness is firm and abiding.
“There is no surer groundwork for the beginnings of a devout life than the endurance of misrepresentation and calumny, since thereby we escape the danger of vainglory and pride.”
Spirit of courage
St. Francis de Sales encourages us to be of good courage. He writes, “My child, your changed life may be attended with some inward discomfort, and you may feel some reaction of discouragement and weariness after you have taken a final farewell of the world and its follies.
“Should it be so, I pray you take it patiently, for it will not last; it is merely the disturbance caused by novelty, and when it is gone by, you will abound in consolations.”
We should not be startled by the heights of Christian perfection, but should patiently let ourselves be fed by the pious instructions of the saints and be formed gradually by holy desires and resolutions.
At the beginning of their spiritual life, the faithful must courageously fight against the kinds of fears that deter them from the fulfillment of duty. There is the fear of effort, the fear of risk, the fear of criticism, and the fear of displeasing friends.
To counter these fears we must nurture holy convictions such as: it is better to please God than men; we must esteem the friendship of Christ above all friendships; the gifts of grace are priceless possessions far better than earthly goods; and the only real evil is sin, which must be avoided at all costs.
「讓我們離開世俗，任它盡發它的噪聲，像黑夜的蝙蝠騷擾白天的鳴烏; 讓我們以堅定的路向，不變的決心，和毅力作為向天主全面臣服的考驗， 我們虔誠生命的慎重選擇。」