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.'”

在「熱心引」第五部份、也是最後的部份,聖方濟.沙雷說到神業可以更新靈魂,同時亦可強化熱切的心。

 

果斷的更新

 

聖人教道:「人性的軟弱和肉慾,把我們的本性降格,使靈性被壓抑、拖累;所以,我們要有充沛的果斷,將自己的靈性提升,就如小鳥要不斷拍翼才能飛行,否則只會墮地。為能將自己的靈性提升,我兒,你要常常回味及珍惜愛主之情,免墮險境。須知道,一旦墮地,不獨回復罪態的醜惡,且會跌得更慘!」

 

屢屢重溫以下方法:「第一、要唾棄、拒絕、痛恨和永遠拋棄大罪。第二、身心常繫事奉及愛天主的事情。第三、當你跌倒,要毫不猶疑地依恃天主,重新站立起來。」

 

檢視靈魂

 

我們要經常檢視(省察)自己的靈魂,特別在避靜之時。聖方濟勸勉我們應檢視:

 

  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。

 

檢視得出的靈修是進步的話,我們殷切感恩,如果有所缺失的話,要謙遜自己,懇請天主的寬恕,祈求祂使我們真正對祂常常忠誠。

 

靈性的反思

 

冀求切實的更新善志,聖方濟建議我們作以下的反思:

 

  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。

 

在其箸作的結尾部份,聖方濟沙雷寫著:「仰望天堂,不要因世俗而失去永生;瞰視地獄,不要因暫世而陷於罪惡;凝視耶穌基督,不要因俗世而否認祂;如果對熱心生活覺得困難和枯燥,跟聖方濟亞西西詠唱:我所期盼那無邊的喜樂,偌大於任何世間的陣痛。」

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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。

 

靈性的慰藉

 

聖方濟.沙雷對界定「靈性慰藉」,有如下的指引:

 

  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。」

 

靈性的孤寂

 

萬一靈性上感到孤寂或受神枯所困,我們應檢視成因。聖方濟指出:母親不會用糖喂食自己的病孩;同樣,我們不善用天主恩賜,卻流於自滿傲慢,天主會剝奪我們靈性上的善感,以作懲罰和警戒。

 

過份喜愛世物,辦告解或尋求神修指導時缺乏坦誠,也會令靈魂感到乾涸。

 

經過謙遜及坦誠的自省後,找到神枯的源頭或成因,便要感謝天主,蓋能揭其劣根,已是癒療的半功。

 

不過,聖方濟對未能找到神枯的源頭或成因的人提出建議:

 

  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。

 

聖方濟認為:「神枯應該令我們更信賴天主。在神枯中事奉天主,比在喜樂中事奉天主,更形箇中價值,其愛更見誠深。」

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.”

靈修生活不會一帆風順,有時感到焦慮不安,實不足為奇。聖方濟.沙雷警戒我們,焦慮會是一種誘惑,甚至是眾多誘惑的開始。

 

貧窮、疾病,是使我們感到憂愁的外來惡敵;無知、枯燥和誘惑,是發自內在的惡敵,讓我們感到憂愁。假如從愛天主角度出發找尋釋懷,我們會變得有耐心、溫良、謙遜及冷靜。相反,如果我們為自保去設法解放自己,會忘記求助於天主,遂變得焦躁不安;短時間未能如願予償的話,更失去耐性、心頭忐忑。因此,原本是合理的憂愁,成為不合情理的焦慮。

 

焦慮的危險

 

聖方濟指出,焦慮是靈魂的大敵,因為內心被侵擾,「便喪失保守已修成德行的能力,也失去抵抗魔鬼誘惑的方法;而魔鬼卻又善於混水摸魚。」

「焦慮是由沒有節制的渴望而產生的,或是解脫凶惡的渴望,或是得到美善的渴望。但焦慮和過急正是最會加重凶惡和扼殺美善的東西。」

 

聖人指出:每當我們有急切渴望脫免凶惡,或達到美善,便要設法保持憩靜的心,以穩定自己的判斷力和意志,然後冷靜地、按步就班地緊隨目標,用合宜的方法,達到心中的理想。

 

「繫於我手」

 

「我把我靈續繫於我手」聖方濟建議我們要常自我檢討,是否還能保守著自己的靈魂,不被激情或焦慮蠶食,又或是否迷失於不正確的愛念、憎恨、嫉妒、色慾、惶恐、煩惱和不正當的歡愉。

 

一旦發覺心神異步,我們要作出調校,重歸天主的麾下,在天主的帶領下穩紮情感與渴求,一心只為承行天主的聖意。

 

聖方濟提醒我們要盡量避免在焦慮中作內心所渴望的事,要將自己交託給主,讓情緒安靜下來才做事。

 

克服憂愁

 

靈魂的敵人要使罪人從邪惡中得到歡愉,卻從善行中觸到憂愁。

 

雅各伯書有此勸告:「你們中間有受苦的嗎?他應該祈禱。(5:13)」聖方濟補充道:「祈禱是最佳良藥,把我們提升,直達那充滿喜樂與慰藉的天主。但祈禱時內外的情感與禱語,應全歸向愛慕和信賴天主。」

 

「努力對抗憂鬱。或者你確實感到冷漠乏味、意氣欄柵,但不要順從憂鬱。靈魂的敵人以憂愁使我們在善功上痠懶;不過,當牠見到我們不停止盡力工作,為了對抗牠而更熱切,牠便會知難而退。」

 

 

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).

聖方濟.沙雷給了我們一些如何抵抗大小誘惑的實用建議。聖人鼓勵受惑的靈魂道:「無論誘惑的形式及感覺怎樣,只要你一概拒絕,便不用害怕,你並沒有冒犯天主。」

 

抵抗誘惑的良方

 

對付極大誘惑方面,聖人認為「當你警覺誘惑到來時,要像小孩子在深山遇到了狼或熊一樣,飛奔到父母蔭庇下,又或高聲求助。你要速速逃到天主前,尋求祂的護祐及援助。就如吾主教導我們『醒寤祈禱罷!免陷於誘惑』。」

 

「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。」

「把你的思想轉向正當而又健康的事情上,這樣,當它充滿了你的思想時,便可以迫走誘惑和邪惡的幻想。」

 

其中一個對抗誘惑的好方法就是把心窩打開,將那些的思想、喜惡,坦然向神師相告。

 

聖方濟把小誘惑(例如虛榮、多疑、煩惱、嫉妒等)比作蒼蠅,我們只需把它們趕走,不作理會,專務愛天主的心。發愛德是對抗一總小誘惑的好方法;因為愛德包含其他相反誘惑的一切德行。

 

強化淨心

 

聖方濟勸勉我們要常省察,認清常支配我們靈魂的情感,而刻意精修抵抗這些情感的德行。

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。

 

雅各伯書(1:12)寫道:「忍受試探的人是有福的,因為他既經得起考驗,必能得到主向愛祂的人,所預許的生命之冠。」

 

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.

在他「熱心引」一書中,當中第四部份共十五章,聖方濟.沙雷用了八個章節,談到有關對抗誘惑。

 

誘惑來自我們靈修的敵人 —— 私慾、世俗和魔鬼。

 

天主的旨意

 

「神修生活」作者、亞道夫.鄧奎里神父指出,天主不會誘惑我們,卻容許我們接受來自靈性敵人的誘惑,另方面又會賞給我們足夠的聖寵去對抗,以期最後得賞天堂永生。他認為經歷誘惑能使我們成聖:「一、(誘惑)一方面讓我們明白過往的跌倒,皆因靈性警醒不足,另一方面給予我們更新悔改之心,因犯罪而感到羞愧、自我謙卑,這麼一來,倒使我們的靈魂得到潔淨。二、會敦促自己作出努力,以免再度跌倒,願意賠補所犯的罪孽,直至靈魂真正重歸純潔。」

 

誘惑其實是靈修的過程。鄧奎里神父續寫道:「一、我們以為靈性可以放鬆休閑下來的時候,誘惑卻是當頭棒喝及一種鞭策,使我們意識到,靈修雖然是緩進的,但卻是不息的,不可以半途而廢,甚至追求更高的境界,擯除更多犯罪的危機。二、歸順謙遜之德,不會自恃。一旦誘惑來到,馬上醒覺到自己的軟弱無能,極需要天主的聖寵,催使我們熱切祈禱,克制引起誘惑的私慾,背負每天的十字架,以削弱自身的偏情。三、因著對天主的愛,我們會感受到那股抵抗誘惑的力量,把自己投向天主全能的臂彎,尋求祂的庇蔭與力量,我們會感激祂不離不棄的寵佑,在任何試探的光景中,總能像小孩般仰賴天父的助祐。」

 

三部曲

 

聖奧斯定說誘惑包含三部曲:提引、快感、同意。

 

誘惑開始時,會是一些罪惡的提引。鄧奎里神父解釋說:「任何罪惡的提引都不搆成罪,至少並非源於自己,也不是自己應允的。當我們允許這提引繼續,便犯了罪。」

 

隨著罪惡的提引,便是犯罪的快感。聖方濟.沙雷寫道:「我們靈魂的深處有高與低兩個層次。低層次的不常常聽從高層次的指導,倒願意跟隨自己的喜愛,不屑地選擇完全相反高層次的意願。這就是聖保祿所謂的『五官與理性的對峙』和『肉慾對抗靈性』。」

 

談到有關同意,鄧奎里神父寫道:「假如我們不曾應允誘惑,甚至抗衡它、擊退它,我們便取得這次勝利,獲得功勞;相反,我們接收那犯罪的快感,允許它繼續留存,我們便是犯罪。」

 

聖施禮華神父說過:「如果你從未同意誘惑,便不需擔心自己犯了罪;因為只有意志能打開內心的門,讓敗壞才得以進入。」

 

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.

 

『熱心入門』的第四部份,聖方濟沙雷提供了對抗試探和誘惑的一些必需的保救方法。他首先指出虔誠的生命是需要勇氣。

 

不屬於世界

 

基督說:「若是你們屬於世界,世界必喜愛你們,有如屬於自己的人;但因你們不屬於世界,而是我從世界中揀選了你們,為此,世界才恨你們。」(若望15:19)

 

聖方濟指出世俗不會為那些花一整晚或連續幾晚去玩象棋或撲克的人而埋怨。它也不會為那些夜夜笙歌的人投訴。但它不會容忍他人花一個小時去默想,也許比一般人早一點起牀去準備領受耶穌聖體,或聖誕前夕守夜。世俗是一個不公平的法官;只會縱容和仁慈地對待自己的兒女,但對天主的兒女卻是苛刻和沒有愛心。

 

聖人更指出這是沒有可能去滿足世俗,因為它是太苛刻的。他寫過:「世俗經常向壞的方面去想;如果在我們行動中它找不到錯處,它會攻擊我們的動機。」

 

「〈世俗〉時常以邪惡的眼光看我們,沒有什麼我們可以做到悅納於它。它誇獎大——我們的過錯,以此為罪過,廣告於世;它把我們的小罪蔑作大罪,我們無心的罪過作為蓄意的。」

 

「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。」

 

「行星和流星都散發著相似的光輝,但流星只會是一瞬的光芒,它不會維持久長,而行星卻不顯示它的光輝。甚至偽善和真善外展上都有一定的相似;但是它們都是容易區分的,偽善是短暫的,像霞霧般的揮發,真善是確實的、恆久的。開始一個虔誠的生活沒有比忍受誤導和誹謗較穩定的基礎,由此我們可以避開虛榮和驕傲。」

 

勇敢的精神

 

聖方濟沙雷鼓勵我們要有好的勇氣。他的寫道:「孩子們,你們改變的生活,可能附上了一些內向的苦惱,在你向這個世界和它的愚鈍作最後的告別時,你也許會有氣餒和厭煩的反應。如果真的這樣,我求你以多一點耐性接納它,它不會是持久的,這不過是新的事物構成的滋擾;待它過去後,你會得到富足的安慰。」

 

我們不應被基督徒完美的要求所驚嚇。只要能耐心地讓我們自己被聖人們的教誨充實我們,讓我們漸漸地按神聖的願望和決心去形造我們。

 

在神修生活的開始,信徒應該勇敢地挑戰種種阻止我們滿全責任的不同恐懼。他們有對成效的恐懼,危險的恐懼,受批評的恐懼和不被朋友所悅納恐懼。為抗衡這些恐懼,我們要培養神聖的信念,就如:我們寧願悅納於天主多於悅納於人;我們要尊重與天主的友誼高於與人的友誼;聖寵的是無價的禮物遠比世上任何事物重要;真正的邪惡是罪過,我們應該不惜以任何代價去躲避它。

 

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.

教宗聖若望,保祿二世在位時的一重要的訊息是普世成聖的召叫。聖方濟沙雷給不同背景的人士們不少實用的忠告,讓他們能夠在日常的行活中去成聖。

 

神聖的婚姻

 

          聖方濟告誡已婚的伴侶們要能有相互的愛,這不僅是自然的和人性的,但卻要是超聖的愛。他跟聖保祿都說:『你們作妻子的,應當服從自己的丈夫,如同服從主一樣,…你們作丈夫的,應該愛妻子,如同基督愛了教會,並為她捨棄了自己』(厄5:22,25)

 

聖人指出神聖婚姻的愛就第一個效果是兩顆心不能拆散的結合。這份愛的第二個效果是不可違背的誠信。古時,配帶的指環,是刻成封印的形式。在婚姻禮儀中;教會以她司鐸的手降福了指環,首先交與新郎,象徵著新娘成了他心的封印,在她有生之年中,不可讓有關其他女人的思想闖進他的心中。隨後,新郎將指環為新娘戴上,這樣她也明白,上主把這男人交託給她,在這男人有生之年中,她心中不能戀慕其他任何男人。

 

婚姻的第三個效果是生育和培養子女。聖人寫作中說:『肯定地,能夠增加上主予以救贖的靈魂,讓這靈魂能夠永遠侍奉上主,是一份上主容許的偉大榮耀;你們孕育那些身體,而天主會為身體注入不朽的靈魂。』

 

生命和愛

 

聖方濟提醒已婚的夫婦們,不要把愛變成嫉妒。他這樣寫說:『在真誠中,如果愛是建基於真的德行上,嫉妒是永不會發生的;所以嫉妒明顯地顯示,那愛情只是世俗的和慾性的,失信和不穩不久便注入其中。』嫉妒可能是愛情強烈的標記,但嫉妒絕不是完美愛情的標記。完美愛情包含絕對的信任,而嫉妒顯示不肯定。

 

子女是婚姻中是上主的最大祝福。聖伯爾納鐸的母親在她的子女出世時,便立即把她們奉獻於基督。聖方濟指出,一當孩子明白事理時,父母們便要小心地將天主的愛灌於他們心中。

聖方濟建議,結婚周年應以修和聖事,聖體聖事和熱心祈禱的方式去慶祝。

 

心靈潔淨

 

聖保祿說:『尊重寡婦,特別是那些真正的寡婦。』聖方濟指出真正的寡婦是那些不單在肉體上的寡婦,而同時是在心內的;就是說她有一份不可反悔的定志去維持神聖的寡居生活。聖人更指出,以純潔和簡單的情操去拒絕第二次的婚姻,由此可以以全部的愛情集中投放於上主之中。祈禱便成了婦女在寡居生活中的一個持續的工作。

 

聖人也請求那些獨身者去保持內心的純潔。這樣他們可以更適合地去讓自己將來作婚姻的承諾或渡貞潔的獻身生活。

 

聖施禮華說:『你有否注意人性的愛怎樣包含細少的事物?同樣,至聖的愛也包含著細少的事物。』