Category Archives: St. Francis de Sales

20140616 Exercises strengthen devotion 神業強化熱心

In the fifth and final part of An Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales recommends spiritual exercises for renewing the soul and strengthening devotion.

Resolutions renewed
The saint wrote, “Our earthly nature easily falls away from its higher tone by reason of the frailty and evil tendency of the flesh, oppressing and dragging down the soul, unless it is constantly rising up by means of a vigorous resolution, just as a bird would speedily fall to the ground if it did not maintain its flight by repeated strokes of its wings.
“In order to do this, my child, you need frequently to reiterate the good resolutions you have made to serve God, for fear that, failing to do so, you fall away, not only to your former condition, but lower still; since it is a characteristic of all spiritual falls that they invariably throw us lower than we were at the beginning.”
We should renew from time to time the following resolutions: “The first is to forsake, reject, detest, and forever renounce all mortal sin. Second, to dedicate and consecrate your soul, heart, and body, with everything appertaining thereto, to the service and love of God. Third, that if you should unhappily fall into any sin, you would forthwith rise up again, with the help of God’s grace.”

Examination of soul
We should examine our soul regularly, especially during retreats. St. Francis de Sales taught that we should examine:
1. The state of our soul towards God: our attitudes towards the Commandments of God, venial sins, and spiritual exercises; our affections towards God.
2. One’s condition with regard to oneself: the nature of our love for self; whether we have boasted or have indulged in recreations which can injure our health.
3. Conduct towards one’s neighbour: whether we love them from our heart and for the love of God, whether we are quick to speak ill of others, and whether we have injured others directly or indirectly.
4. The passions, feelings, and affections of the soul: what attachments hinder our spiritual life, what passions engross it, and what chiefly attracts us.
These examinations should lead to thanksgiving for any spiritual progress and to humility for any shortcoming. We should ask for forgiveness and entreat God to make us truly faithful.

Spiritual reflections
St. Francis de Sales proposed the following subjects for reflection to support the renewal of good resolutions:
1. The excellence of the soul: it has an understanding capable of knowing angels and paradise, it has a noble will which can love God, it also has a heart that can find no repose save in God alone.
2. The excellence of virtue: only virtue and devotion can satisfy our soul in this world; compare virtues with their opposing vices.
3. The example of the saints: the sacrifices of the martyrs, the purity and charity of the holy and blessed women, and the detachment and resolutions of the holy confessors.
4. The love that Jesus Christ bears us: His sufferings on earth; His heart loves and cares for each one of us.
5. God’s eternal love for us: God has always loved us, and from eternity prepared the favours and graces which He has bestowed on us.
Towards the end of the book, the saint wrote, “Look to heaven, and do not lose it for earth; look at hell, and do not plunge therein for the sake of this passing life; look at Jesus Christ, and do not deny Him for the world’s sake; if the devout life sometimes seems hard and dull, join in Saint Francis’s song: ‘So vast the joys that I await, no earthly travails seem great.'”













  1. 靈魂與天主的關係 —— 我們對天主十誡的態度;怎樣看小罪;內在的靈修,和我們對天主的愛。
  2. 對自己的關係—— 如何愛護自己;是否愛溺或縱情世娛,有損身心。
  3. 對待別人 —— 是否因愛天主而愛別人;是否慣於以言行直接或間接傷害他人。
  4. 靈魂的情感 —— 超性生活有否被繫戀所阻礙,或被情慾所佔有;心儀於那些東西;什麼事物最能吸引自己。








  1. 靈魂的崇高 —— 有認知天使和天堂的能力;擁有一顆愛天主尊貴的心志;感到只能安頓於天主之內。
  2. 德行的崇高 ——只有聖德與熱心,才可以使靈魂得到富足;嘗試比對聖德和相反的罪惡。
  3. 聖賢的芳表 —— 欽佩殉道者的犧牲、聖女的貞潔和愛德、精修者的脫俗和善志。
  4. 耶穌基督對我們的愛 —— 基督在世的苦難;常感恩於祂聖心對我們的愛和關顧。
  5. 天主對我們永恆的愛 ——天主常愛我們;自永恆已準備賜給我們諸恩寵。



20140609 Rooted in God 植根主內

Consolation and desolation are the ups and downs in spiritual life. We should focus on God and be rooted in Him at all times, so that both consolation and desolation can become opportunities for our sanctification.

Spiritual consolation
St. Francis de Sales gave these special rules regarding spiritual consolation:
1. True devotion does not consist of spiritual consolation.
2. “Tender warm emotions are sometimes good and useful, for they kindle the spiritual appetite, cheer the mind, and infuse a holy gladness into the devout life, which embellishes all we do even externally.”
3. “If our spiritual tenderness and sweetness and consolation make us more humble, patient, forbearing, charitable, and kindly towards our neighbours, more earnest in mortifying our own evil inclinations and lusts, more diligent in our duties, more docile and submissive to those who have a claim to our obedience, more simple in our whole manner of life, then doubtless, my child, they come from God.
“But if this sweetness and tenderness is sweet only to ourselves, if we are fanciful, bitter, punctilious, impatient, obstinate, proud, presumptuous, harsh towards our neighbour, while reckoning ourselves as half-made saints, not docile to correction or guidance, then we may be assured our consolations are spurious and hurtful. A good tree will bring forth none save good fruit.”
4. “If we are favoured with any such sweetness, we must humble ourselves deeply before God, and beware of being led to cry out, ‘How good I am!’ No indeed, such gifts do not make us any better, for, as I have already said, devotion does not consist of such things; rather let us say, ‘How good God is to those who hope in Him, and to the souls that seek Him!’
“If a man has sugar in his mouth, he cannot call his mouth sweet, but the sugar; and so although our spiritual sweetness is admirable, and God Who imparts it is all good, it by no means follows that he who receives it is good.”

Desolation of soul
When we experience desolation of soul or spiritual dryness, we should examine if we ourselves are the cause of it. St. Francis de Sales pointed out: “A mother refuses sugar to her sickly child, and so God deprives us of consolations when they do but feed self-complacency or presumption.”
“If we neglect to gather up and use the treasures of God’s love in due time, He withdraws them as a punishment for our sloth.”
Steeping one’s heart in worldly gratifications and the lack of frankness in confession or in spiritual direction can also be the causes of spiritual dryness.
If, after careful examination of conscience, we discover the root of spiritual dryness to be in ourselves, we should thank God for the discovery, for the evil is half cured when we have ascertained the cause. However, if the cause cannot be found, St. Francis advised the following:
1. “Humble yourself profoundly before God, acknowledging your nothingness and misery.”
2. “Call upon God, and ask for His gladness.”
3. “Go to your confessor, open your heart thoroughly, let him see every corner of your soul, and take all his advice with the utmost simplicity and humility.”
4. Avoid being overly eager for deliverance from dryness, but place yourself at the entire disposal of God’s Providence.
5. Do not omit any devotional exercise, and, if possible, increase your good works.
Regarding spiritual dryness, St. Francis said, “In this respect we should work all the more to prove our trust, for one act performed in dryness is worth many performed with pleasure. Though less agreeable, the love which prompts it is far more profound.”

靈修生活會有起跌 —— 慰藉與孤寂的時刻,所以,我們應當專注於天主,並常植根於祂內,好讓無論靈修生活上的感覺如何,都是聖化我們的機會。






  1. 真正的熱心,並不在於靈性上會感到慰藉。
  2. 的確,「有時候,溫暖善感的情緒,會有利及有助我們靈魂燃點對天主的愛火,舒暢心神,傾注聖善的喜悅於熱心的生活中,修飾了我們內外的行為。」
  3. 「假如這些溫暖慰藉的善感,能使我們更趨謙和遜守、耐心含忍、願意給別人更大的愛心,又能促使我們擯棄邪念、善盡本份,對依附自己的人溫良恭謹,渡簡樸的生活;那麼、我兒,必定是來自天主。但假如這些善感只留存於內在這感覺,反使自己覺得與別不同、儼如聖者,對別人挑剔難耐、令人難堪,又自大自傲、膽大妄為、固步自封,那肯定是虛假的浮念,有害而無益。須知道,善樹只會結善果。」
  4. 「如果我們喜愛那洋溢甜蜜的善感,則應在天主面前謙遜,切忌自滿,要承認全因『天主善待仰賴祂、尋找祂的人』。明白這善感不源於我們的熱心,亦無助我們的靈修。譬如一個人口中有糖,甜味來自糖而非他的口腔。同樣,靈性的善感只因天主願意跟隨祂的人,可以分享祂的美善。」












  1. 在天主台前,深切謙遜,承認自己的虛無與貧乏。
  2. 向天主呼求,祈求祂的神樂。
  3. 向告解神師徹底坦誠,讓他洞悉我們靈魂的深處,以單純和謙卑的心,謹領其言、盡遵其導。
  4. 避免急於脫離神枯,只仰賴天主的救助。
  5. 照常勤做熱心敬禮和神操;若可能作更多善功。



20140602 Go beyond emotions 掌控情緒

It is not uncommon to become anxious on one’s spiritual journey. St. Francis de Sales pointed out that anxiety is the soul’s greatest enemy; it is a source from which other temptations arise.
Sadness can be caused by external evils such as poverty and sickness or by internal evils such as ignorance, dryness, and temptation. If a person seeks to be delivered from sadness out of love of God, he will do so with patience, gentleness, humility, and calmness.
However, if a person seeks deliverance out of self-love, he will be eager and restless, and will act as if everything depended more on him than on God. If deliverance does not come speedily, he becomes impatient and disturbed, and a justifiable sadness turns into unreasonable anxiety.

Dangers of anxiety
If the heart is anxious within itself, St. Francis pointed out, “it loses the power to preserve those virtues which are already acquired, and also the means of resisting the temptations of Satan, who does not fail to fish in such troubled water.”
“Anxiety arises from an unregulated desire to be delivered from any pressing evil, or to obtain some hoped-for good. Nevertheless, nothing tends so greatly to aggravate evil or hinder good as over-eagerness and anxiety.”
“Whenever you urgently desire to be delivered from any evil, or to attain some good thing, strive above all else to keep a calm, restful spirit; steady your judgment and will, and then go quietly and gently after your object, taking all fitting means to attain thereto.”

‘In my hands’
“My soul is continually in my hands” (Ps 118:109). St. Francis recommended frequent self-examination to determine whether the soul is under control, or if it has been snatched away by some passion or anxiety, or has strayed in the pursuit of some ill-regulated emotion of love, hate, envy, lust, fear, vexation, or joy.
If our heart is not under control, we should gently lead it back into the presence of God; steadying our affections and desires under the guidance of God and in obedience to the holy will of God.
St. Francis wrote, “Do not allow any wishes to disturb your mind under the pretext of their being trifling and unimportant; for if they gain the day, greater and weightier matters will find your heart more accessible to disturbance.
“When you are conscious that you are growing anxious, commend yourself to God, and resolve steadfastly not to take any steps whatever to obtain the result you desire, until your disturbed state of mind is altogether quieted; unless indeed it should be necessary to do something without delay, in which case you must restrain the rush of inclination; moderating it, as far as possible, so as to act rather from reason than impulse.”

Overcoming sadness
The enemy of the soul seeks to make sinners take delight in sin but experience sadness in good deeds. St. James wrote, “Is any among you sad? Let him pray” (Jas 5:13).
St. Francis commented’ “Prayer is a sovereign remedy: it lifts the mind to God, Who is our only joy and consolation. But when you pray, let your words and affections, whether interior or exterior, all tend to love and trust in God.”
“Vigorously resist all tendencies to melancholy, and although all you do may seem to be done coldly, wearily, and indifferently, do not give in.
“The enemy strives to make us languid in doing good by depression, but when he sees that we do not cease our efforts to work, and that those efforts become all the more earnest by reason of their being made in resistance to him, he leaves off troubling us.”





























20140526 Spiritual combat 靈性的爭鬥

St. Francis de Sales gave practical advice on fighting great and small temptations. To encourage the tempted soul, the saint wrote, “Come what may in the shape of temptation, attended by whatsoever of delectation, so long as your will refuses consent, not merely to the temptation itself, but also to the delectation, you need have no fear, God is not offended.”

Remedies for temptations
Regarding great temptations the saint wrote, “Whenever you feel the approach of temptation, do as our little children when they see a wolf or a bear in the mountains. Forthwith they run to the protection of their father or mother, or at least cry out for help.
“Do you fly in like manner to God, claiming His compassion and succour: it is the remedy taught us by Our Lord Himself: ‘Pray that ye enter not into temptation.'”
“So long as the temptation lasts, do you persist in making acts of non-consent. But while making these acts and these protests, do not fix your eyes on the temptation, look solely on Our Lord, for if you dwell on the temptation, especially when it is strong, your courage may be shaken.
“Divert your mind with any right and healthy occupation, for if that takes possession and fills your thoughts, it will drive away temptation and evil imaginings.”
“One great remedy against all manner of temptation, great or small, is to open the heart and lay bare its suggestions, likings, and dislikings, to your director; for, as you may observe, the first condition which the evil one makes with a soul, when he wants to seduce it, is silence, even as a bad man, seeking to seduce a woman, enjoins silence concerning himself to her father or husband, whereas God would always have us make known all His inspirations to our superiors and guides.”
St. Francis compared trifling temptations (such as vanity, suspicion, vexation, jealousy, and envy) with flies. We should simply drive them away and do not pay too much attention to them. We should make acts of love of God. Since the love of God includes the perfection of all virtues, it is a sovereign remedy against all vices.

Strengthen the heart
St. Francis urges us to examine from time to time what passions predominate in our soul, and strive to act against those passions. In time of peace, we should strive to practice the opposite virtues.
The saint explains, “For instance, if you know that you are disposed to be vain, reflect often upon the emptiness of this earthly life, call to mind how burdensome all mere earthly vanities will be to the conscience at the hour of death.”
“If you are given to avarice, think often of the folly of this sin, which makes us the slave of what was made only to serve us; remember how when we die we must leave all we possess to those who come after us, who may squander it, ruin their own souls by misusing it, and so forth.”
“If you have a tendency to trifle with the affections, often call to mind what a dangerous amusement it is for yourself and others; how unworthy a thing it is to use the noblest feelings of the heart as a mere pastime; and how readily such trifling becomes mere levity.
“Let your conversation turn on purity and simplicity of heart, and strive to frame your actions accordingly, avoiding all that savours of affectation or flirting.”
“Blessed is anyone who perseveres when trials come. Such a person is of proven worth and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (Jas 1:12).







「誘惑持續多久,你也要拒絕多久,但同時不要著眼在那誘惑上,而是要注目於我們的主;因為若你停留在誘惑中 –––––特別是來勢洶洶的誘惑,你的勇力容易變得薄弱。」










譬如,你很容易自負,便多想現世的空泛,虛榮的負累,生命終結時,更感良心百上加斤… 又譬如你常有貪婪之心,便多想這是多麼愚蠢的事,令我們反而變成物質的奴隸,臨終時會發覺所擁有的,都變得毫無用處,維恐靈魂被其摧毀… 如果你容易陷於情慾,你要常警覺,那是靈魂的殺手,把內心的尊貴沉淪,跌入短暫的虛幻浮誇。你要謹口慎言,用純潔謙和去管束行為舉止,躲避慾欲風情。




20140519 Struggle against temptation 與誘惑對抗

St. Francis de Sales devoted eight of the 15 chapters in the fourth part of “An Introduction to the Devout Life” on the struggle against temptation.
Temptation is a solicitation to evil on the part of our spiritual foes: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Providential purposes
Father Adolphe Tanquerey, the author of “The Spiritual Life,” pointed out that God Himself does not tempt us directly, but He allows us to be tempted by our spiritual enemies, at the same time giving us the graces necessary to resist. God wants to make us merit heaven by fighting temptation.
Father Tanquerey pointed out that temptation is a means of purification. He wrote that temptation “reminds us that through lack of vigilance and of effort in the past we have fallen, and it becomes thus an occasion for new acts of contrition, shame, and humiliation, which make for the purification of the soul.
“It obliges us at the same time to put forth earnest and sustained efforts lest we fall; it makes us atone for our negligences and for our surrenders by the performance of contrary acts which further purify the soul.”
Temptation is an instrument of spiritual progress. Father Tanquerey wrote, “It is like a stripe of the lash that awakens us at the moment we would lull ourselves to sleep and relax. It makes us realize the necessity of forging ahead, of not halting midway, but of ever aiming higher, the more surely to remove the danger.
“It is a school of humility, of distrust of self. When tempted we realize more fully our weakness, our powerlessness; we feel more keenly the need of grace, and we pray with greater earnestness. We see all the better the necessity of mortifying in us the love of pleasure, the source of our temptations, and we embrace more eagerly the little crosses of every day in order to weaken the power of concupiscence.
“It is a school of love of God; for to insure our power of resistance, we throw ourselves into God’s arms, there to seek for strength and shelter; we are more grateful to Him for His unfailing grace; we act towards Him as children of a most loving Father to Whom we have recourse in all our trials.”

Three phases
According to St. Augustine, the three phases in temptation are: suggestion, pleasure, and consent.
Suggestion is the proposal of some evil. Father Tanquerey wrote, “No matter how dangerous such a suggestion may be, it does not constitute a sin, provided that we have not provoked it ourselves, and do not consent to it. There is sin only when the will yields consent.”
Pleasure follows the suggestion. St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Inasmuch as our souls have two parts, one inferior, the other superior, and the inferior does not always choose to be led by the superior, but takes its own line, it not infrequently happens that the inferior part takes pleasure in a temptation not only without consent from, but absolutely in contradiction to, the superior will.
“It is this contest which St. Paul describes when he speaks of the ‘law in my members, warring against the law of my mind,’ and of the ‘flesh lusting against the spirit.'”
Regarding consent, Father Tanquerey wrote, “If the will withholds acquiescence, combats the temptation, and repels it, it has scored a success and performed a highly meritorious act. If, on the contrary, the will delights in the pleasure, willingly enjoys it, and consents to it, the sin is committed.”
“No matter what happens, don’t worry as long as you don’t consent. For only the will can open the door of the heart and let that corruption in,” said St. Josemaria Escriva.



誘惑來自我們靈修的敵人 —— 私慾、世俗和魔鬼。




















20140512 Walk bravely forward 勇敢向前邁進

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。」












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.”

















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.”