Archive for January, 2006

The Importance of Silence

January 30, 2006

Catholic Apologetics Online

By St. Alphonsus de Liguori

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Note: The importance of Silence can not be stressed enough in our day of frequent distraction and noise for God does not speak to us in such things but in silence as in a gentle breeze is the lord heard (3 kings 19:12-14).
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[Extracted from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori]

[Although written for religious sisters the benefit for those living in the world cannot be overstated.]

CHAPTER XVI

SILENCE, SOLITUDE, AND THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

[Only the section on Silence is here presented]

CASSIAN says: “The religious prays little who prays only when she is on her knees in the choir or in the cell.” (1) To fulfil the obligations of her state, a religious should keep her soul continually united with God; but to maintain this constant union, continual prayer is necessary. There are three means of acquiring the habit of continual prayer; namely, silence, solitude,and the presence of God. These were the means that the angel suggested to St. Arsenius when he said: “If you wish to be saved, fly into solitude, observe silence, and repose in God by always keeping, yourself in his presence.” (2) We shall speak of each of these means separately.

I. Silence.

In the first place, silence is a great means of acquiring the spirit of prayer, and of disposing the soul to converse continually with God. We rarely find a spiritual soul that speaks much. All souls of prayer are lovers of silence that is called the guardian of innocence, the shield against temptations, and the fountain of prayer. For by silence devotion is preserved, and in silence good thoughts spring up in the soul. St. Bernard says: “Silence and the absence of noise in a certain manner force the soul to think of God and of eternal goods.” (3) Hence, the saints fled to the mountains, to caves, and to deserts, in order to find this silence, and escape the tumults of the world, in which, as was said to Elias, God is not found. (3 Kings, xix. 11) Theodosius the monk observed silence for thirty-five years. St. John the Silent, who gave up his bishopric and became a monk, observed silence for forty-seven years before his death; and all the saints, even they who were not solitaries, have been lovers of silence.

Oh, how great the blessings that silence brings to the soul! The prophet says that silence shall cultivate justice in the soul; (Isaias, xxxii. 17) for, on the one hand, it saves us from a multitude of sins by destroying the root of disputes, of detractions, of resentments, and of curiosity; and on the other, it makes us acquire many virtues. How well does the nun practise humility who when others speak listens with modesty and in silence! How well does she practise mortification by not yielding to her inclination or desire to tell a certain anecdote, or to use a witty expression suggested by the conversation! How well does she practise meekness by remaining silent when unjustly censured or offended! Hence the same holy prophet said: In silence and in hope shall be your strength. (Isaias xxx. 15) Your strength shall be in silence and in hope; for by silence we shun the occasions of sin, and by hope we obtain the divine aid to lead a holy life.

But, on the other hand, immense evils flow from speaking too much. In the first place, as devotion is preserved by silence, so it is lost by a multitude of words. However recollected the soul may have been in prayer, if it afterwards indulge in long discourses it will find the mind as distracted and dissipated as if it had not made meditation. When the mouth

Besides, the Holy Ghost tells us that in speaking too much we shall not fail to commit some fault. In the multitude of words they shall not want sin. (Prov, x. 19) While they speak and prolong conversation without necessity, certain persons think that they are not guilty of any defect; but if they carefully examine themselves they will find some fault against modesty, of detraction, of curiosity, or at least of superfluous words. St. Mary Magdalene Pazzi used to say that a religious should speak only through necessity. For religious are bound in a special manner to give an account of idle words, for which, according to our Saviour, all men shall have to render account. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall account for it in the day of judgment.” (Matt, xii. 36)

I have used the words some defect; but when we speak too much we shall find that we have committed a thousand faults. St. James has called the tongue a universal evil: The tongue is . . . a world of iniquity. (James iii.6) For, as a learned author remarks, the greater number of sins arise from speaking or from listening to others. Alas! how many nuns shall we see condemned on the day of judgment, on account of having had but little regard for silence! And what is most to be deplored is, that the religious that dissipates her mind by intercourse with creatures, and by too much speaking, will never be able to see her defects, and thus she will go from bad to worse. A man full of tongue shall not be established in the earth. (Ps, xxxix. 12) The man that speaks too much shall walk without a guide, and therefore he shall fall into a thousand mistakes without the hope of ever perceiving them. Such a religious appears as if unable to live without speaking continually from morning till evening. She wishes to know what happens in the monastery and in the world; she goes about asking questions from all the others, and afterwards says, What evil am I doing? I answer you, dearly beloved sister, put an end to idle talk; endeavor to recollect yourself a little and you will see how many defects you have committed by the multitude of your words.

St. Joseph Calasanctius used to say “that a dissipated religious is a source of joy to the devil.” And justly, for by her dissipation she not only does not attend to her own sanctification, but is also an obstacle to the advancement of others, by going about the monastery in search of some one to converse with her, by speaking in a loud voice in every place, and by a want of reverence, even in the choir and sacristy. St. Ambrose relates that a certain priest, while at prayer, was disturbed by the cries of a multitude of frogs: he commanded them to be silent, and they instantly obeyed. The holy Doctor then took occasion to say: “Shall senseless animals, then, be silent through respect for prayer, and shall men not be silent?” (5) And I add, will religious refuse to practise silence, after having entered the monastery in order to become saints, to observe their Rule, and to maintain holy recollection; or will they perform the office of the devil, by disturbing their sisters who wish to pray, and to be recollected with God? A certain author justly calls such talkative nuns “the home devils of monasteries,” who do great injury to the Community.

According to St. Ignatius of Loyola, to know if there is fervor in a convent, it is enough to ascertain whether silence is observed or violated. A monastery in which the sisters speak continually is an image of hell; for where there is not silence there must be continual disputes, detractions, complaints, particular friendships, and factions. But, on the other hand, a monastery in which the religious love silence is an image of paradise: it excites devotion not only in all who live in it, but also in those who live in the world. It is related by Father Perez, of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, that while a secular he entered one day into a house of the Order, and was so edified and filled with devotion by the silence of the brethren, that he renounced the world and remained in the convent. Father Natalis, of the Society of Jesus, used to say, that to reform a religious house it is enough to establish in it the observance of silence. Because each of the religious would then practise recollection, and would attend to his own advancement. Hence, also, Gerson says that the holy founders of religious Orders have prescribed and earnestly recommended silence to their religious, because they knew how important its observance is for the maintenance of fervor. In his rules for nuns, St. Basil insists, not once, but frequently, on silence. St. Benedict commanded his monks to endeavor to observe continual silence. (6)

And experience shows that in the monastery in which silence is observed, discipline is maintained; and on the other hand, where silence is neglected, but little fervor is found. Hence few religious become saints, because few love silence. In many monasteries the rule of silence is prescribed by the written rules, and is strongly recommended; but some of the religious appear not to know what silence is, and therefore they unhappily live in dissipation, without fervor, and always in trouble. But, dear sister, do not imagine that the negligence of others will excuse or exempt you from the rule of silence. Blessed Clare of Montefalco used to say that in the time of silence it is difficult to speak without committing a fault.

Some one may excuse herself, saying, that it is sometimes necessary to speak in order to get rid of melancholy; but how can the violation of silence free a religious from melancholy? Let us be persuaded that all the creatures on earth or in heaven cannot console us in our afflictions. God alone is the author of consolation; but will he console us at the very time we offend him? But when there is any necessity for speaking in the time of silence, at least ask permission. Another religious does not seek occasions to speak, but as often as they are presented she allows herself to be led into breaches of silence by others who wish to speak. But her condescension will certainly not excuse her from the fault. It is necessary, then, to do violence to yourself, and to go away, or to remain silent, and sometimes by putting the finger on the mouth to make a sign that it is a time of silence.

And even out of the hours of silence endeavor to practise it as much as possible if you wish to keep yourself recollected with God and free from imperfections; for there is no sin more easily committed than sins of tongue. He, says Solomon, that keepeth his mouth keepeth his soul. (Prov, xiii. 3) And St. James says that he who sins not with the tongue is a perfect man: If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man. (James, iii. 2) Hence it is the same thing to be a silent religious and a holy religious; for by observing silence she will be punctual to the rules, she will be devoted to prayer, to spiritual reading, and to her visits to the Holy Sacrament. Oh, how dear to God does the religious render herself who loves silence! -(7) By silence we learn to consider well what we shall afterwards say. But for a religious who wishes to become a saint, what is the time for silence and the time for speaking? The hours of silence for her are all the hours in which there is no necessity for speaking. The time for speaking is when necessity or charity obliges her to speak. Behold the excellent rule of St. John Chrysostom: “Then only should we speak when it is more useful to speak than to be silent.” (8) Hence the saint gives the following advice: “Either remain silent, or say what is more profitable than silence.” (9) Oh! happy he who at death can say what the monk Pambo said: “That he did not remember to have ever uttered a word which he was sorry for having spoken.” (10) St. Arsenius used to say that he often repented of having spoken, but never of having remained silent. (11) St. Ephrem gave this excellent lesson to religious: “Speak a great deal with God, and little with men.” (12) St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say the same: “The true servant of Jesus Christ bears all things; she labors much, and speaks little.”

From all that has been said, every religious that wishes to live in union with God may see with what care she should shun the parlor. As the air that is breathed in the choir or in the cell is the most salubrious for religious, so the air of the grates is for them the most pestiferous. And what is the parlor but what St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi called it, a place of distractions, inquietudes, and of temptations. The Venerable Sister Mary Villani one day compelled the devil, on the part of God, to tell in what part of the monastery he gained most. The tempter answered: I gain in the choir, in the refectory, and in the dormitory: in these places I partly gain, and partly lose. But in the parlor gain all, for the whole place is mine, Hence the Venerable Sister Philippa Cerrina had reason to call the parlor an infected place, in which the contagion of sin is easily caught. St. Bernardine of Sienna relates that a religious in consequence of having heard in the parlor an improper word miserably fell into a grievous sin. Truly happy was the holy virgin St. Fabronia, who afterwards gave her life for the faith at the age of nineteen; she would never allow herself to be seen at the grate by any secular, male or female. St. Teresa appeared after death to one of her spiritual children, and said to her: The religious that wishes to be a great friend of God must be an enemy of the grate.

Would to God that in all monasteries there were grates of perforated iron such as we find in some observant convents! A certain author relates that the Superior of a monastery procured a narrow grate; but the devil, through rage, first bent it, and afterwards sent it rolling through the house. The good Superior placed it, crooked as it was, in the parlor to give the nuns to understand that as the grate was hateful to hell so it was pleasing to God. Oh! what an awful account will the abbess have to give to God who introduces open grates, or who neglects to make the companions attend. In one of her letters St. Teresa wrote this great sentence: “The grates when shut are the gates of heaven; and when open they are the gates of danger” (she did not wish to say hell). And she added:

“A monastery of nuns in which there is liberty serves to conduct them to hell rather than to cure their weakness.”

What rapid progress in divine love does the religious make who resolves never to go to the grate! When you, dear sister, go to the parlor, be careful at least to conduct yourself like a religious. In your intercourse with seculars you should not only guard with great care against all affectionate expressions, but should also be very grave and reserved in the parlor. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi wished her nuns to be “like the wild deer” –these are her very words. And the Venerable Sister Hyacinth Marescotti used to say: “The courtesy of nuns consists in being discourteous by cutting short all long discourses in the parlor.” This applies, ordinarily speaking, to long discourses even with spiritual persons. Mother Anne of Jesus, a Discalced Carmelite, said: “A nun acquires more fervor in the choir or in the cell than by the longest conferences in the parlor. Show all respect to directors, but you should treat with them only through necessity; despatch your business with them in a few words.”

Should you ever happen to hear in the parlor an indecent word, go away immediately; or, at least, cast down your eyes, and change the discourse, or give no answer. In a monastery of the Venerable Sister Seraphina de Carpi two women began to speak about a certain marriage: the attendant at the turn heard the voice of Sister Seraphina (who was dead) saying, “Chase away, chase away these women.” And whenever it is in your power, endeavor to change all discourses that savor of the world. St. Frances of Rome received a buffet from an angel because she did not change the conversation of certain ladies who spoke of worldly vanities. You should be still more careful to observe silence with your sisters in the monastery: for the occasion of breaking silence with them is more continual. Hence it is necessary to mortify curiosity. The Abbot John used to say: “Let him who wishes to restrain the tongue shut his ears by mortifying the curiosity of hearing news.” It is also necessary to avoid the conversation of any religious who speaks frequently. It is, moreover, well to fix some time each day during which you will observe silence, remaining alone in your cell or in some solitary place in order to avoid the occasions of speaking.

Whenever you have to speak, be careful, in conformity with the advice of the Holy Ghost, Make a balance for thy words, (Ecclus, xxviii. 29) to examine what you ought to say. Make a balance for your words that you may weigh them before you give expression to them. Hence St. Bernard says that “before your words come to the tongue, let them pass twice under the file of examination,” (13) that you may suppress what you should not utter. The same was said by St. Francis de Sales in other words, namely, that to speak without sin every one should keep a lock on his lips, that in opening his mouth to speak he might reflect well on what he wishes to say.

Before speaking you should consider—

1. Whether what you intend to say can injure charity, modesty, or exact observance.

2. Examine the motive that impels you to speak; for it sometimes happens that what a person says is good, but her intention is bad; she speaks either to appear spiritual, or to acquire a character for talent.

3. Examine to whom you speak, whether to your Superiors, to companions, or to inferiors: whether in the presence of seculars, or of the postulants, who may perhaps be scandalized at what you say.

4. Exa

At recreation, which is the proper time for unbending the mind, speak when the others are silent, but endeavor as often as you can to speak on something that has reference to God. “Let us speak of the Lord Jesus,” says St. Ambrose, “let us always speak of him.” (15) And what other enjoyment should a religious seek than to speak of her most amiable Spouse? He who has an ardent love for another, appears unable to speak of anything but of him. They who speak little of Jesus Christ, show that they have but little love for Jesus Christ. On the other hand, it often happens that good religious, after speaking on divine love, feel more fervor than after mental prayer. At the conversations of the servants of God, says St. Teresa, Jesus Christ is always present. Of this, Father Gisolfo, of the Congregation of the “Pious Workers,” relates a memorable example, in the life of the Venerable Father Anthony de Collelis. He says that Father Constantine Rossi, the Master of novices, saw one day two of his young disciples, F. D. Anthony Torres, and F. D. Philip Orilia, conversing together, and with them a young man of most beautiful aspect. The Master of novices was surprised that two novices, whom he regarded as most exemplary, should speak to a stranger without permission: he therefore asked who was the young man whom he had seen conversing with them. They said there was no one conversing with them. But he afterwards learned that they were speaking of Jesus Christ, and understood that the person whom he saw in their company was our divine Saviour.

Except in the hours of recreation, and other extraordinary occasions, such as in attending the sick or in consoling a sister in tribulation, it is always better to be silent. A religious of the Order of St. Teresa, as we find in the Teresian Chronicles, said that it is better to speak with God than to speak of God. But when obedience or charity obliges you to speak, or to have intercourse with creatures, you must always endeavor to find intervals, for at least repairing the losses caused by the distractions attendant on these external occupations; stealing at least as many little moments as possible to recollect yourself with God; thus following the counsel of the Holy Ghost: Let not the part of a good gift overpass thee. (Ecclus, xiv. 14) Do not allow that particle of time to pass away: give it to God, if you can have no more to give him during the day. But whenever you can abridge the conversation, abridge it under some pretext. A good religious seeks not pretexts, as some do, to prolong conversation, but endeavors to find out some means of shortening it. Let us remember that time is given us not to be spent unprofitably, but to be employed for God, and in acquiring merits for eternity. St. Bernardine of Sienna used to say that a moment of time is of as much value as God, because in each moment we can gain his friendship, or greater degrees of grace.

Prayer.

O my God, may the patience with which Thou hast borne me be forever blessed. Thou hast given me time to love Thee, and I have spent it in offending and displeasing Thee. Were I now to die, with what heartfelt pain should I end my life, at the thought of having spent so many years in the world, and of having done nothing. Lord, I thank Thee for still giving me time to repair my negligence, and so many lost years. O my Jesus! through the merits of Thy Passion assist me. I do not wish to live any longer for myself, but only for Thee, and for Thy love. I know not how much of life remains, whether it is long or short; but were it a hundred or a thousand years, I wish to spend them all in loving and pleasing Thee. I love Thee, O my Sovereign Good, and I hope to love Thee for eternity. I do not wish to be ever again ungrateful to Thee. I will no longer resist Thy love, which has so long called me to be entirely Thine. Shall I wait till Thou abandon me, and call me no more?

Mary, my mother, assist me, pray for me, and obtain for me perseverance in my resolution to be faithful to God.

Notes referenced in the text:

1 “Perparum orat, quisquis, illo tantum tempore quo genua flectuntur, orare consuevit.” –Collat. 10, c. 14
2 “Si vis salvus esse, fuge, tace et quiesce.” –Vit. Patr. l. 3, n. 190.
3 “Silentium, et a strepitu quies, cogit coelestia meditari.” –Epist. 78
4 “Cave a multiloquio; hoc enim sanctas cogitations extinguit.” –Doctr. 24
5 “Silent igitur paludes; hominess non silebunt?” –De Virgin. l. 3
6 “Omni tempore silentio debent studere monachi.” –Reg. c. 42
7 “Per silentium disci, quod postea proferatur.”
8 “Tunc solum loquendum est, quando plus proficit quam silentium.” –In Ps. cxl
9 “Aut tace, aut dic meliora silentio.”
10 Prac. of perf. p. 2, tr. 2, ch. 8
11 “Me saepe poenituit dixisse, nunquam tacuisse.” –Surius, 19 Jul
12 “Cum Deo, multis; cum hominibus, paucis loquere.” –Encom. in Ps.
13 “Bis ad limam veniant verba, quam semel ad linguam.” –Punct. perf. 7
14 Spec. disc. p. I, c. 31
15 “Loquamur Dominum Jesum, ipsum semper loquamur.” –In Ps. xxxvi.

from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ
by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church.

Edited by Rev. Eugene Grimm,
Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

2nd edition

Nihil Obstat: Arthur J. Scanlan, S.T.D., Censor Librorum
Imprimatur: Patritius Cardinalis Hayes, Archiepiscopus Neo-Eboracensis. 1929

THIS WEEK’S THOUGHT CONDITIONER

January 29, 2006

Daily Guideposts – Dr Norman Vincent Peale

Thought Conditioner No. 3

Renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Here is a fragment of a verse which will bring you friends, health, happiness, and success. It can improve your disposition.

The word disposition refers to the manner in which you are disposed to react to situations and people. If your automatic emotional reaction is irritable, crabby, selfish, haughty, it impairs or even destroys your relationships.

The quality of your disposition depends upon your inner spirit. This thought conditioner, by the use of the word “renew,” implies that when you were created, you had a good disposition.

If you have allowed it to deteriorate, Almighty God, who created you, can recreate and renew in you the fine balance, the controlled spirit. He can restore that vital factor in a good disposition, inner quiet control. Let no day pass after today that you do not say many times, “Renew a right spirit within me.”

FRANCIS de Sales

January 29, 2006

Catholic Forum

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Also known as: Francis of Sales; Gentle Christ of Geneva; the Gentleman Saint

Memorial: 24 January

Profile: Born in a castle to a well-placed family, his parents intended that he become a lawyer, enter politics, and carry on the family line and power. Studied at La Roche, Annecy, Clermont College in Paris, and law at the University of Padua. Doctor of Law. He returned home, and found a position as Senate advocate.

It was at this point that he received a message telling him to “Leave all and follow Me.” He took this as a call to the priesthood, a move his family fiercely opposed. However, he pursued a devoted prayer life, and his gentle ways won over the family.

Priest. Provost of the diocese of Geneva, Switzerland, a stronghold of Calvinists. Preacher, writer and spiritual director in the district of Chablais. His simple, clear explanations of Catholic doctrine, and his gentle way with everyone, brought many back to the Roman Church.

Bishop of Geneva at age 35. Travelled and evangelized throughout the Duchy of Savoy, working with children whenever he could. Friend of Saint Vincent de Paul. Turned down a wealthy French bishopric. Helped found the Order of the Visitation with Saint Jeanne de Chantal. Prolific correspondent. Doctor of the Church.

Born: 1567 at Chateau of Thorens, Savoy

Died: 28 December 1622 at Lyons; buried at Annecy

Beatified: 8 January 1662 by Pope Alexander VII

Canonized: 19 April 1665 by Pope Alexander VII

Patronage: authors; diocese of Baker, Oregon; archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio; Catholic press; diocese of Columbus, Ohio; confessors; deaf people; deafness; educators; journalists; diocese of Keimoes-Upington, South Africa; teachers; diocese of Wilmington, Delaware; writers

Readings

++Nothing makes us so prosperous in this world as to give alms.

++It is to those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially.

++Let us run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.

++Salvation is shown to faith, it is prepared for hope, but it is given only to charity. Faith points out the way to the land of promise as a pillar of fire hope feeds us with its manna of sweetness, but charity actually introduces us into the Promised Land.

++Oh what remorse we shall feel at the end of our lives, when we look back upon the great number of instructions and examples afforded by God and the Saints for our perfection, and so carelessly received by us! If this end were to come to you today, how would you be pleased with the life you have led this year?

++We must fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear.

++In the royal galley of divine Love, there is no galley slave: all rowers are volunteers.

++We are not drawn to God by iron chains, but by sweet attractions and holy inspirations.

++Perfection of life is the perfection of love. For love is the life of the soul.

++By giving yourself to God, you not only receive Himself in exchange, but eternal life as well.

++Man is the perfection of the Universe.
The spirit is the perfection of man.
Love is the perfection of the spirit, and charity that of love.
Therefore, the love of God is the end, the perfection of the Universe.

++There are many who say to the Lord, “I give myself wholly to Thee, without any reserve,” but there are few who embrace the practice of this abandonment, which consists in receiving with a certain indifference every sort of event, as it happens in conformity with Divine Providence, as well afflictions as consolations, contempt and reproaches as honor and glory.

++One of the principle effects of holy abandonment in God is evenness of spirits in the various accidents of this life, which is certainly a point of great perfection, and very pleasing to God. The way to maintain it is in imitation of the pilots, to look continually at the Pole Star, that is, the Divine Will, in order to be constantly in conformity with it. For it is this will which, with infinite wisdom rightly distributes prosperity and adversity, health and sickness, riches and poverty, honor and contempt, knowledge and ignorance, and all that happens in this life. On the other hand, if we regard creatures without this relation to God, we cannot prevent our feelings and disposition from changing, according to the variety of accidents which occur.

++Some torment themselves in seeking means to discover the art of loving God, and do not know – poor creatures – that there is no art or means of loving Him but to love those who love Him – that is, to begin to practice those thing which are pleasing to Him.

++Our business is to love what would have done. He wills our vocation as it is. Let us love that and not trifle away our time hankering after other people’s vocations.

++Every moment comes to us pregnant with a command from God, only to pass on and plunge into eternity, there to remain forever what we have made of it.

++All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be.

++An action of small value performed with much love of God is far more excellent than one of a higher virtue, done with less love of God.

++Blessed are those whose hearts are ever open to God’s inspiration; they will never lack what they need to live good holy lives, or to perform properly the duties of their state. For just as God gives each animal through its nature the instincts needed for its self-preservation, so – if we offer no obstacle to grace – he gives each of us the inspirations needed for life, activity and self-preservation on the spiritual level.

When we are at a loss what to do, when human help fails us in our dilemmas, then God inspires us. If only we are humbly obedient, he will not let us go astray. Some plants point their flowers at the sun, turn them with it as it moves. The sunflower, however, turns not only its flowers, but its leaves as well. In the same way all God’s chosen ones turn their hearts toward God’s will by keeping his commandments. But those who are utterly filled with charity turn to God’s will by more than mere obedience to his commandments. They also give him their hearts, follow him in all that he commands, counsels or inspires, unreservedly, with no exceptions whatsoever.

++Anxiety is a temptation in itself and also the source from and by which other temptations come.

Sadness is that mental pain which is caused by the involuntary evils which affect us. These may be external – such as poverty, sickness, contempt of others – or they may be internal – such as ignorance, dryness in prayer, aversion, and temptation itself.

When the soul is conscious of some evil, it is dissatisfied because of this, and sadness is produced. The soul wishes to be free from this sadness, and tries to find the means for this.

If the soul seeks deliverance for the love of God, it will seek with patience, gentleness, humility, and calmness, waiting on God’s providence rather than relying on its own initiative, exertion, and diligence. If it seeks from self-love, it is eager and excited and relying on self rather than God.

Anxiety comes from an irregulated desire to be delivered from the evil we experience. Therefore, above all else, calm and compose your mind. Gently and quietly pursue your aim.

++The highest degree of meekness consists in seeing, serving, honoring, and treating amiably, on occasion, those who are not to our taste, and who show themselves unfriendly, ungrateful, and troublesome to us.

++Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you.

++The virtue of patience is the one which most assures us of perfection.

++To be pleased at correction and reproofs shows that one loves the virtues which are contrary to those faults for which he is corrected and reproved. And, therefore, it is a great sign of advancement in perfection.

++Two mistakes I find common among spiritual persons. One is that they ordinarily measure their devotion by the consolations and satisfactions which they experience in the way of God, so that if these happen to be wanting, they think they have lost all devotion. No, this is no more than a sensible devotion. True and substantial devotion does not consist in these things, but in having a will resolute, active, ready and constant not to offend God, and to perform all that belongs to His service. The other mistake is that if it ever happens to them to do anything with repugnance and weariness, they believe they have no merit in it. On the other hand, there is then far greater merit; so that a single ounce of good done thus by a sheer spiritual effort, amidst darkness and dullness and without interest, is worth more than a hundred pounds done with great facility and sweetness, since the former requires a stronger and purer love. And how great so ever may be the aridities and repugnance of the sensible part of our soul, we ought never to lose courage, but pursue our way as travelers treat the barking of dogs.

++Our greatest fault is that we wish to serve God in our way, not in His way- according to our will, not according to His will. When He wishes us to be sick, we wish to be well; when He desires us to serve Him by sufferings, we desire to serve Him by works; when He wishes us to exercise charity, we wish to exercise humility; when He seeks from us resignation, we wish for devotion, a spirit of prayer or some other virtue. And this is not because the things we desire may be more pleasing to Him, but because they are more to our taste. This is certainly the greatest obstacle we can raise to our own perfection, for it is beyond doubt that if we were to wish to be Saints according to our own will, we shall never be so at all. To be truly a Saint, it is necessary to be one according to the will of God.

++All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever had done these two things best, has made himself most saintly.

++The greatest fault among those who have a good will is that they wish to be something they cannot be, and do not wish to be what they necessarily must be. They conceive desires to do great things for which, perhaps, no opportunity may ever come to them, and meantime neglect the small which the Lord puts into their hands. There are a thousand little acts of virtue, such as bearing with the importunities and imperfections of our neighbors, not resenting an unpleasant word or a trifling injury, restraining an emotion of anger, mortifying some little affection, some ill-regulated desire to speak or listen, excusing indiscretion, or yielding to another in trifles. These things are to be done by all; why not practice them. The occasions for great gains come but rarely, but of little gains many can be made each day; and by managing these little gains with judgement, there are some who grow rich. Oh, how holy and rich in merits we should make ourselves, if we but knew how to profit by the opportunities which our vocation supplies to us! Yes, yes, let us apply ourselves to follow well the path which is close before us, and to do well on the first opportunity, without occupying ourselves with thoughts of the last, and thus we shall make good progress.

++To be perfect in one’s vocation is nothing else than to perform the duties and offices to which one is obliged, solely for the honor and love of God, referring to His glory. Whoever works in this manner may be called perfect in his state, a man according to the heart and will of God.

++A servant of God signifies one who has a great charity towards his neighbor and an inviolable resolution to follow in everything the Divine Will; who bears with his own deficiencies, and patiently supports the imperfections of others.

++The person who possesses Christian meekness is affectionate and tender towards everyone: He is disposed to forgive and excuse the frailties of others; the goodness of his heart appears in a sweet affability that influences his words and actions, presents every object to his view in the most charitable and pleasing light.

++Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them.

++Consider all the past as nothing, and say, like David: Now I begin to love my God.

++One of the things that keep us at a distance from perfection is, without a 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.

++It should be our principal business to conquer ourselves and, from day to day, to go on increasing in strength and perfection. Above all, however, it is necessary for us to strive to conquer our little temptations, such as fits of anger, suspicions, jealousies, envy, deceitfulness, vanity, attachments, and evil thoughts. For in this way we shall acquire strength to subdue greater ones.

++There is nothing which edifies others so much as charity and kindness, by which, as by the oil in our lamp, the flame of good example is kept alive.

++When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind. He has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station, and his calling,

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the noblemen and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in particular.

Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its color, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable.

++How displeasing to God are rash judgments! The judgments of the children of men are rash because they usurp the office of Our Lord, the just Judge. They are rash because the principal malice of sin depends on the intention and the counsel of the heart, and these are hidden things not known to human judges. They are rash because every person has things that could be judged, and, indeed, on which one should judge oneself.

On the cross our Savior could not entirely excuse the sin of those who crucified him, but he extenuated the malice by pleading their ignorance. When we cannot excuse a sin, let us at least make it worthy of compassion by attributing the most favorable cause we can to it, such as ignorance or weakness. We can never pass judgment on our neighbor.

++As often as you can during the day, recall your mind to the presence of God…. Consider what God is doing, what you are doing. You will always find God’s eyes fixed on you in unchangeable love.

Our hearts should each day seek a resting-place on Calvary or near our Lord, in order to retire there to rest from worldly cares and to find strength against temptation.

Remember frequently to retire into the solitude of your heart, even while you are externally occupied in business or society. This mental solitude need not be hindered even though many people may be around you, for they surround your body not your heart, which should remain alone in the presence of God. As David said, “My eyes are ever looking at the Lord.”

We are rarely so taken up in our exchanges with others as to be unable from time to time to move our hearts into solitude with God.

++Our profit does not depend so much on mortifying ourselves, as upon knowing how to mortify ourselves; that is, upon knowing how to chose the best mortifications, which are those most repugnant to our natural inclinations. Some are inclined to disciplines and fasts, and though they may be difficult things, they embrace them with fervor, and practice them gladly and easily, on account of this leaning which they have toward them. But then they will be so sensitive in regard to reputation and honor, that the least ridicule, disapproval, or slight is sufficient to throw them into a state of impatience and perturbation and to give rise to such complaints as show an equal want of peace and reason. These are the mortifications which they ought to embrace with the greatest readiness, if they wish to make progress.

++The greater part of Christians usually practice incision instead of circumcision. They will make a cut indeed in a diseased part but as for employing the knife of circumcision, to take away whatever is superfluous from the heart, few go so far.

++Undertake all of your duties with a calm mind and try to do them one at a time. If you try to do them all at once, or without order, your spirits will be so overcharged and depressed that they will likely sink under the burden and nothing will be done.

In all of your affairs, rely on the Providence of God through which alone you much look for success. Strive quietly to cooperate with its designs. If you have a sure trust in God, the success that comes to you will always be that which is most useful to you, whether it appears good or bad in your private judgment.

Think of the little children who with one hand hold fast to their father while with the other they gather berries. If you handle the goods of this world with one hand, you must also always hold fast with the other to your heavenly Father’s hand, and turn toward him from time to time to see if you are pleasing him. Above all, be sure that you never leave his hand and his protection, thinking that with your own two hands you can gather more or get some other advantage.

++We must intend our own salvation in the way God intends it.

God desires that we should be saved. We too need constantly to desire what God desires. God not only means us to be saved, but actually dives us all we need to achieve salvation. So we are not to stop at merely desiring salvation, but go a step further and accept all the graces God has prepared for us, the graces constantly offered to us. It is all very well to say, “I want to be saved.” It is not must use merely saying, “I want to take the necessary steps.” We must actually take the steps. We need to make a definite resolution to take and use the graces God holds out to us. Our wills must be in tune with God’s. Because God wants us to be saved, we should want to be saved. We should also welcome the means to salvation that God intends us to take….that is why general acts of devotion and prayer should always be followed by particular resolutions.

++Love is strong as death since both equally separate the soul from the body and all terrestrial things, the only difference is, that the separation is real and effectual when caused by death, whereas that occasioned by love is usually confined to the heart.

I say usually, because divine love is sometimes so violent that it actually separates the soul from the body, and, by causing the death of those who love, it renders them infinitely happier than it it bestowed on them a thousand lives.

As the lot of the reprobate is to die in sin, that of the elect is to expire in the love and grace of God, which is effected in several ways.

Many of the saints died, not only in the state of charity, but in the actual exercise of divine love. Saint Augustine expired in making an act of contrition, which cannot exist without love; Saint Jerome, in exhorting his disciples to charity and the practice of all virtues; Saint Ambrose, in conversing sweetly with his Saviour, whom he had received in the Holy Eucharist; Saint Anthony of Padua also expired in the act of discoursing with our Divine Lord, after having recited a hymn in honor of the ever — glorious Virgin; Saint Thomas of Aquinas, with his hands clasped, his eyes raised to heaven, and pronouncing these words of the Canticles, which were the last he had expounded: ” Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field ” (Canticle 7:2).

All the apostles, and the greater number of the martyrs, died in prayer. Venerable Bede, having learned the hour of his death by revelation, went to the choir at the usual hour to sing the evening office, it being the feast of the Ascension, and at the very moment he had finished singing vespers he expired, following his Guide and Master into Heaven, to celebrate His praises in that abode of rest and happiness, round which the shades of night can never gather, because it is illumined by the brightness of the eternal day, which neither dawns nor ends.

John Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, remarkable for his learning and virtue, — of whom Sixtus of Sienna said, ” that it is difficult to decide whether the vein of piety which runs through his works surpasses his science, or whether his learning exceeds his piety,” — after having explained the fifty properties of divine love mentioned in the Canticles, expired at the close of three days, smiling, and pronouncing these words of the same sacred text: ” Thy love, O God, is strong as death ” (Canticle 8:6).

The fervor and ardor of Saint Martin at the hour of his death are remarkable. Saint Louis, who has proved himself as great a monarch among the saints as an eminent saint among kings, being attacked by the plague, ceased not to pray, and after receiving the viaticum, he extended his arms in the form of a cross, fixed his eyes on heaven, and, animated with love and confidence, expired in saying with the Psalmist: ” I will come into Thy house, O Lord; I will worship towards Thy holy temple, in Thy fear ” (Psalms 5:8).

Saint Peter Celestine, after having endured the most cruel and incredible afflictions ,, seeing the end of his days approach, began to sing like the swan, and terminated his song with his life, by these words of the last Psalm: ” Let every spirit praise the Lord ” (Psalms 150:5).

Saint Eusebia, surnamed the Stranger, died kneeling in fervent prayer. Saint Peter the Martyr yielded his last sigh in writing (with his finger, which he had dipped in his blood ) the articles of the faith for which he sacrificed his life, and in saying: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit ” (Psalms 30:6).

The great apostle of the Indies and Japan, Saint Francis Xavier, expired holding a crucifix, which he tenderly embraced, and incessantly repeated in transports of love, ” O Jesus! the God of my heart!”

++As soon as worldly people see that you wish to follow a devout life they aim a thousand darts of mockery and even detraction at you. The most malicious of them will slander your conversion as hypocrisy, bigotry, and trickery. They will say that the world has turned against you and being rebuffed by it you have turned to God. Your friends will raise a host of objections which they consider very prudent and charitable. They will tell you that you will become depressed, lose your reputation in the world, be unbearable, and grow old before your time, and that your affairs at home will suffer. You must live in the world like one in the world. They will say that you can save your soul without going to such extremes, and a thousand similar trivialities.

Philothea, all this is mere foolish, empty babbling. These people aren’t interested in your health or welfare. “If you were of the world, the world would love what is its own but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you,” says the Savior. We have seen gentlemen and ladies spend the whole night, even many nights one after another, playing chess or cards. Is there any concentration more absurd, gloomy, or depressing than this last? Yet worldly people don’t say a word and the players’ friends don’t bother their heads about it. If we spend an hour in meditation or get up a little earlier than usual in the morning to prepare for Holy Communion, everyone runs for a doctor to cure us of hypochondria and jaundice. People can pass thirty nights in dancing and no one complains about it, but if they watch through a single Christmas night they cough and claim their stomach is upset the next morning. Does anyone fail to see that the world is an unjust judge, gracious and well disposed to its own children but harsh and rigorous towards the children of God?

We can never please the world unless we lose ourselves together with it. It is so demanding that it can’t be satisfied. “John came neither eating nor drinking,” says the Savior, and you say, “He has a devil.” “The Son of man came eating and drinking” and you say that he is “a Samaritan.” It is true, Philothea, that if we are ready to laugh, play cards, or dance with the world in order to please it, it will be scandalized at us, and if we don’t, it will accuse us of hypocrisy or melancholy. If we dress well, it will attribute it to some plan we have, and if we neglect our dress, it will accuse of us of being cheap and stingy. Good humor will be called frivolity and mortification sullenness. Thus the world looks at us with an evil eye and we can never please it. It exaggerates our imperfections and claims they are sins, turns our venial sins into mortal sins and changes our sins of weakness into sins of malice.

“Charity is kind,” says Saint Paul, but the world on the contrary is evil. “Charity thinks no evil,” but the world always thinks evil and when it can’t condemn our acts it will condemn our intentions. Whether the sheep have horns or not and whether they are white or black, the wolf doesn’t hesitate to eat them if he can. Whatever we do, the world will wage war on us. If we stay a long time in the confessional, it will wonder how we can have so much to say; if we stay only a short time, it will say we haven’t told everything. It will watch all our actions and at a single little angry word it will protest that we can’t get along with anyone. To take care of our own interests will look like avarice, while meekness will look like folly. As for the children of the world, their anger is called being blunt, their avarice economy, their intimate conversations lawful discussions. Spiders always spoil the good work of the bees.

Let us give up this blind world, Philothea. Let it cry out at us as long as it pleases, like a cat that cries out to frighten birds in the daytime. Let us be firm in our purposes and unswerving in our resolutions. Perseverance will prove whether we have sincerely sacrificed ourselves to God and dedicated ourselves to a devout life. Comets and planets seem to have just about the same light, but comets are merely fiery masses that pass by and after a while disappear, while planets remain perpetually bright. So also hypocrisy and true virtue have a close resemblance in outward appearance but they can be easily distinguished from one another. Hypocrisy cannot last long but is quickly dissipated like rising smoke, whereas true virtue is always firm and constant. It is no little assistance for a sure start in devotion if we first suffer criticism and calumny because of it. In this way we escape the danger of pride and vanity, which are comparable to the Egyptian midwives whom a cruel Pharaoh had ordered to kill the Israelites’ male children on the very day of their birth. We are crucified to the world and the world must be crucified to us. The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad.

Sunday Mass Readings

January 29, 2006

EWTN

Sunday, January 29, 2006
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary time

First Reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

Love Mary!… She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.

~St Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother~

St Francis de Sales

January 29, 2006

Catholic Encyclopedia

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Bishop of Geneva, Doctor of the Universal Church; born at Thorens, in the Duchy of Savoy, 21 August, 1567; died at Lyons, 28 December, 1622. His father, François de Sales de Boisy, and his mother, Françoise de Sionnaz, belonged to old Savoyard aristocratic families. The future saint was the eldest of six brothers. His father intended him for the magistracy and sent him at an early age to the colleges of La Roche and Annecy. From 1583 till 1588 he studied rhetoric and humanities at the college of Clermont, Paris, under the care of the Jesuits. While there he began a course of theology. After a terrible and prolonged temptation to despair, caused by the discussions of the theologians of the day on the question of predestination, from which he was suddenly freed as he knelt before a miraculous image of Our Lady at St. Etienne-des-Grès, he made a vow of chastity and consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1588 he studied law at Padua, where the Jesuit Father Possevin was his spiritual director. He received his diploma of doctorate from the famous Pancirola in 1592. Having been admitted as a lawyer before the senate of Chambéry, he was about to be appointed senator. His father had selected one of the noblest heiresses of Savoy to be the partner of his future life, but Francis declared his intention of embracing the ecclesiastical life. A sharp struggle ensued. His father would not consent to see his expectations thwarted. Then Claude de Granier, Bishop of Geneva, obtained for Francis, on his own initiative, the position of Provost of the Chapter of Geneva, a post in the patronage of the pope. It was the highest office in the diocese, M. de Boisy yielded and Francis received Holy Orders (1593).

From the time of the Reformation the seat of the Bishopric of Geneva had been fixed at Annecy. There with apostolic zeal, the new provost devoted himself to preaching, hearing confessions, and the other work of his ministry. In the following year (1594) he volunteered to evangelize Le Chablais, where the Genevans had imposed the Reformed Faith, and which had just been restored to the Duchy of Savoy. He made his headquarters in the fortress of Allinges. Risking his life, he journeyed through the entire district, preaching constantly; by dint of zeal, learning, kindness and holiness he at last obtained a hearing. He then settled in Thonon, the chief town. He confuted the preachers sent by Geneva to oppose him; he converted the syndic and several prominent Calvinists. At the request of the pope, Clement VIII, he went to Geneva to interview Theodore Beza, who was called the Patriarch of the Reformation. The latter received him kindly and seemed for a while shaken, but had not the courage to take the final steps. A large part of the inhabitants of Le Chablais returned to the true fold (1597 and 1598). Claude de Granier then chose Francis as his coadjutor, in spite of his refusal, and sent him to Rome (1599).

Pope Clement VIII ratified the choice; but he wished to examine the candidate personally, in presence of the Sacred College. The improvised examination was a triumph for Francis. “Drink, my son”, said the Pope to him. “from your cistern, and from your living wellspring; may your waters issue forth, and may they become public fountains where the world may quench its thirst.” The prophesy was to be realized. On his return from Rome the religious affairs of the territory of Gex, a dependency of France, necessitated his going to Paris. There the coadjutor formed an intimate friendship with Cardinal de Bérulle, Antoine Deshayes, secretary of Henry IV, and Henry IV himself, who wished “to make a third in this fair friendship” (être de tiers dans cette belle amitié). The king made him preach the Lent at Court, and wished to keep him in France. He urged him to continue, by his sermons and writings, to teach those souls that had to live in the world how to have confidence in God, and how to be genuinely and truly pious – graces of which he saw the great necessity.

On the death of Claude de Granier, Francis was consecrated Bishop of Geneva (1602). His first step was to institute catechetical instructions for the faithful, both young and old. He made prudent regulations for the guidance of his clergy. He carefully visited the parishes scattered through the rugged mountains of his diocese. He reformed the religious communities. His goodness, patience and mildness became proverbial. He had an intense love for the poor, especially those who were of respectable family. His food was plain, his dress and his household simple. He completely dispensed with superfluities and lived with the greatest economy, in order to be able to provide more abundantly for the wants of the needy. He heard confessions, gave advice, and preached incessantly. He wrote innumerable letters (mainly letters of direction) and found time to publish the numerous works mentioned below. Together with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, he founded (1607) the Institute of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, for young girls and widows who, feeling themselves called to the religious life, have not sufficient strength, or lack inclination, for the corporal austerities of the great orders. His zeal extended beyond the limits of his own diocese. He delivered the Lent and Advent discourses which are still famous – those at Dijon (1604), where he first met the Baroness de Chantal; at Chambéry (1606); at Grenoble (1616, 1617, 1618), where he converted the Maréchal de Lesdiguières. During his last stay in Paris (November, 1618, to September, 1619) he had to go into the pulpit each day to satisfy the pious wishes of those who thronged to hear him. “Never”, said they, “have such holy, such apostolic sermons been preached.” He came into contact here with all the distinguished ecclesiastics of the day, and in particular with St. Vincent de Paul. His friends tried energetically to induce him to remain in France, offering him first the wealthy Abbey of Ste. Geneviève and then the coadjutor-bishopric of Paris, but he refused all to return to Annecy.

In 1622 he had to accompany the Court of Savoy into France. At Lyons he insisted on occupying a small, poorly furnished room in a house belonging to the gardener of the Visitation Convent. There, on 27 December, he was seized with apoplexy. He received the last sacraments and made his profession of faith, repeating constantly the words: “God’s will be done! Jesus, my God and my all!” He died next day, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. Immense crowds flocked to visit his remains, which the people of Lyons were anxious to keep in their city. With much difficulty his body was brought back to Annecy, but his heart was left at Lyons. A great number of wonderful favours have been obtained at his tomb in the Visitation Convent of Annecy. His heart, at the time of the French Revolution, was carried by the Visitation nuns from Lyons to Venice, where it is venerated to-day. St. Francis de Sales was beatified in 1661, and canonized by Alexander VII in 1665; he was proclaimed Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX, in 1877.

The following is a list of the principal works of the holy Doctor:

(1) “Controversies”, leaflets which the zealous missioner scattered among the inhabitants of Le Chablais in the beginning, when t hese people did not venture to come and hear him preach. They form a complete proof of the Catholic Faith. In the first part, the author defends the authority of the Church, and in the second and third parts, the rules of faith, which were not observed by the heretical ministers. The primacy of St. Peter is amply vindicated.
(2) “Defense of the Standard of the Cross”, a demonstration of the virtue

* of the True Cross;
* of the Crucifix;
* of the Sign of the Cross;
* an explanation of the Veneration of the Cross.

(3) “An Introduction to the Devout Life”, a work intended to lead “Philothea”, the soul living in the world, into the paths of devotion, that is to say, of true and solid piety. Every one should strive to become pious, and “it is an error, it is even a heresy”, to hold that piety is incompatible with any state of life. In the first part the author helps the soul to free itself from all inclination to, or affection for, sin; in the second, he teaches it how to be united to God by prayer and the sacraments; in the third, he exercises it in the practice of virtue; in the fourth, he strengthens it against temptation; in the fifth, he teaches it how to form its resolutions and to persevere. The “Introduction”, which is a masterpiece of psychology, practical morality, and common sense, was translated into nearly every language even in the lifetime of the author, and it has since gone through innumerable editions.
(4) “Treatise on the Love of God”, an authoritative work which reflects perfectly the mind and heart of Francis de Sales as a great genius and a great saint. It contains twelve books. The first four give us a history, or rather explain the theory, of Divine love, its birth in the soul, its growth, its perfection, and its decay and annihilation; the fifth book shows that this love is twofold – the love of complacency and the love of benevolence; the sixth and seventh treat of affective love, which is practised in prayer; the eight and ninth deal with effective love, that is, conformity to the will of God, and submission to His good pleasure. The last three resume what has preceded and teach how to apply practically the lessons taught therein.
(5) “Spiritual Conferences”; familiar conversations on religious virtues addressed to the sisters of the Visitation and collected by them. We find in them that practical common sense, keenness of perception and delicacy of feeling which were characteristic of the kind-hearted and energetic Saint.
(6) “Sermons”. – These are divided into two classes: those composed previously to his consecration as a bishop, and which he himself wrote out in full; and the discourses he delivered when a bishop, of which, as a rule, only outlines and synopses have been preserved. Some of the latter, however, were taken down in extenso by his hearers. Pius IX, in his Bull proclaiming him Doctor of the Church calls the Saint “The Master and Restorer of Sacred Eloquence”. He is one of those who at the beginning of the seventeenth century formed the beautiful French language; he foreshadows and prepares the way for the great sacred orators about to appear. He speaks simply, naturally, and from his heart. To speak well we need only love well, was his maxim. His mind was imbued with the Holy Writings, which he comments, and explains, and applies practically with no less accuracy than grace.
(7) “Letters”, mostly letters of direction, in which the minister of God effaces himself and teaches the soul to listen to God, the only true director. The advice given is suited to all the circumstances and necessities of life and to all persons of good will. While trying to efface his own personality in these letters, the saint makes himself known to us and unconsciously discovers to us the treasures of his soul.
(8) A large number of very precious treatises or opuscula.

Migne (5 vols., quarto) and Vivès (12 vols., octavo, Paris) have edited the works of St. Francis de Sales. But the edition which we may call definitive was published at Annecy in 1892, by the English Benedictine, Dom Mackey: a work remarkable for its typographical execution, the brilliant criticism that settles the text, the large quantity of hitherto unedited matter, and the interesting study accompanying each volume. Dom Mackey published twelve volumes. Father Navatel, S.J., is continuing the work. We may give here a brief résumé of the spiritual teaching contained in these works, of which the Church has said: “The writings of Francis de Sales, filled with celestial doctrine are a bright light in the Church, pointing out to souls an easy and safe way to arrive at the perfection of a Christian life.” (Breviarium Romanum, 29 January, lect. VI.)

There are two elements in the spiritual life: first, a struggle against our lower nature; secondly, union of our wills with God, in other words, penance and love. St. Francis de Sales looks chiefly to love. Not that he neglects penance, which is absolutely necessary, but he wishes it to be practised from a motive of love. He requires mortification of the senses, but he relies first on mortification of the mind, the will, and the heart. This interior mortification he requires to be unceasing and always accompanied by love. The end to be realized is a life of loving, simple, generous, and constant fidelity to the will of God, which is nothing else than our present duty. The model proposed is Christ, whom we must ever keep before our eyes. “You will study His countenance, and perform your actions as He did” (Introd., 2nd part, ch. i). The practical means of arriving at this perfection are: remembrance of the presence of God, filial prayer, a right intention in all our actions, and frequent recourse to God by pious and confiding ejaculations and interior aspirations.

Besides the Institute of the Visitation, which he founded, the nineteenth century has seen associations of the secular clergy and pious laymen, and several religious congregations, formed under the patronage of the holy Doctor. Among them we may mention the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, of Annecy; the Salesians, founded at Turin by the Venerable Don Bosco, specially devoted to the Christian and technical education of the children of the poorer classes; the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, established at Troyes (France) by Father Brisson, who try to realize in the religious and priestly life the spirit of the holy Doctor, such as we have described it, and such as he bequeathed it to the nuns of the Visitation.

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One Year Bible Study – An Introduction

January 22, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding

‘The purpose of this page is to help you read and begin to understand the entire Bible in one year at an introductory level. It will be easy to complete the Bible if you simply make a 15 to 30 minute commitment per day. The order will alternate back and forth between the Old and New testaments showing their relationship to one another.’

**Click on the following link to begin your year of Bible study with a Catholic deacon. There are links at the top of the page as well as at the side to take you to the various resources you will need.

>>Begin now

Resources for Catholic Educators

January 22, 2006

Religious Education

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Links, lesson plans, clip art, coloring pages, crossword puzzles, newsletter for Catholic catechists, teachers, DREs, parents and all involved in the education of the faith

How to Be Happy in Life

January 22, 2006

happyguy.com

Good Morning, are you ready to be happy?

If your goal is finding happiness, you have found the right place. True happiness is a choice YOU have to make. It is a state of being only you can create. The self-actualization tips filling this website are your personal growth tools to help create true happiness from within.

>>Read on

THIS WEEK’S THOUGHT CONDITIONER

January 22, 2006

Positive Thinking

Thought Conditioner No. 2

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

Without a deep inner state of quietness, one becomes prey to tension, worry, and ill health. A song, a sunset, moonlight, the sea washing on a sandy shore, these administer a healing balm. But they lack power to penetrate the inner recesses of the soul.

A profound depth therapy is required to attain healing quietness. An habitual repetition of this one text will, in time, permeate your personality with a complete sense of peace.

When tense or restless, sit quietly and allow these words to pass unhindered through your thoughts. Conceive of them as spreading a healing balm throughout your mind.

Mass Readings

January 22, 2006

EWTN

Sunday, January 22, 2006
Third Sunday in Ordinary time
(Week of prayer for Christian unity)

First Reading: Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm: Psalm 25:4-9
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

I know whom I have believed, and I am certain that I have committed to Him against that day, being a just Judge.

~2 Tim. i. 12~