St Francis de Sales

Humble, valiant in praise, defending silent before the Cross

The soul, advancing from step to step in holy prayer, becomes so resplendent that it is impossible she should not be admired, and that even the world, seeing her in the midst of the desert, solicited by so many sins, walking faithfully, and resembling a column of odoriferous perfume rising toward the sky, should not exclaim:

Who is she that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke, of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense, and all the powders of the perfumer?

But this applause is a hidden and sweetened poison, which very often causes the saintliest and devout to lose their justice and their devotion.

Let him whosoever hears his own praises turn towards those of God: let him persuade the praiser not to praise a thing of so little worth; but to draw up the praises of God out of our lowness and littleness. And if he cannot so soon fix his gaze on the Divinity, let him at least praise Jesus Christ, man, our true Solomon, and that principally in three things, His flesh, His cross, His Glory, saying: Behold worthy is His flesh, the bed of his Divinity and of His soul, surrounded by more than sixty valiant soldiers, who defend against every one who could cause it fear: that flesh which is not inclined to sin like ours, but by the hypostatic union, and by the empire it holds over the angels, it is altogether perfect and impeccable:

Behold threescore valiant ones of the most valiant of Israel, surrounded the bed of Solomon, and all holding sword’s and most expert in war: every man’s sword upon his thigh, because of fears in the night.

As for the Cross, how holy is it!  

St Francis de Sales ‘The Mystical Explanation of the Canticle of Canticles’

Peter Paul Ruebens 'The Triumph of the Eucharist Over Idolatry'

Peter Paul Ruebens ‘The Triumph of the Eucharist Over Idolatry’

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Accepting furthering challenges

…since God has designed matrimony as a Sacrament, those who are joined together possess unique, personal qualities that each should share and help transform to supernatural levels in each other. That invisible Presence that binds them together must become visible by their love for each other, their family life, their growth in holiness, their concern for the needs of others, their faithfulness and their perseverance in daily good. –Mother Angelica ‘The Living Sacrament—Matrimony’

The soul which arrives at the degrees described very often finds itself with a body tired and worn, whence it happens that if God invites her to new considerations and higher degrees she is in perplexity: she would greatly like to go further, but the labor terrifies her; and if the Beloved calls her again, she rises to go to prayer, but still with a resistance of the sensible part which deprives her of pleasure, and causes that she can scarcely think that God is with her; and as happens to those are extremely tired, she falls asleep while watching:

I sleep, and my heart watcheth:

Then turning herself towards her Beloved Who is knocking at her heart:

The voice of my beloved knocking.

And excites her to open to Him, and to recommence her prayer:

Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled:

And with the fourth degree of prayer meditate a little on My passion. Thou will find that I have my head full of that heavenly dew of my blood, and my hair steeped in blood from the nocturnal pricking of the thorns:

For my head is full of dew, and my locks of the drops of the night.

The soul would willingly obeyed, but her lassitude makes are desire repose; which makes her say:

I have put off by garment, how shall I put in on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defiled them?

–St Francis de Sales ‘The Mystical Explanation of the Canticle of Canticles’

Artist Marc Chagall--Musee Marc Chagall

Artist Marc Chagall–Musee Marc Chagall

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Austere demands

Delving, rediscovering, I experienced a quiet moment at work, focusing on a Kindle edition of St Francis de Sales sermons. The Saint is dear to me, an intellectual inspiration, a marvelous writer and unique challenging thinker, a penetrating spiritual director. Digest these words on male/female interactions, the freeing of energy, responsibility and accountability forced forefront. A spiritual teacher I am familiar with stresses the importance of advancing beyond the pursuit of entertainment. The religious life is more than seeking the pleasure of entertaining moments, the pursuit of passing time through distraction, avoiding the banality and boredom of stillness, the humiity of detaching from cleverness, the seriousness of loving and interacting with others through vulnerability, imperfection, tenderness, gentleness, and admiration. The ability to truly love on the natural and intimate level.

Our Dear Lord, Who demands nought save our love in return for our creation, preservation and redemption, will require a strict account of the senseless way in which we have frittered and wasted it. If He will call us to account for idle words, how will it be with respect to idle, foolish, pernicious friendships? Husbandmen know that the walnut tree is very harmful in a vineyard or field, because it absorbs the fatness of the land and draws it away from the other crops; its thick foliage overshadows and deprives them of sunshine; and, moreover, it attracts passers-by, who tread down and spoil all that is around while striving to gather its fruit. So with these foolish love affairs and the soul; they engross it, so that it is unable to bring forth good works; their superfluous foliage—flirtations, dallyings and idle talk—consume profitable time; and, moreover, they lead to so many temptations, distractions, suspicions, and the like, that the heart becomes altogether crushed and spoiled. Such follies not only banish Heavenly Love, they likewise drive out the fear of God, enervate the mind, and damage reputation. They may be the plaything of courts, but assuredly they are as a plague spot of the heart. –Sermons of St Francis de Sales

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Acceptance

“Lift your heart up gently whenever it falls.
Humble yourself before God,
but do not be astonished by your fall
since it is not surprising that
weakness is weak,

frailty is frail
and misery is miserable!”

St Francis de Sales

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Furthering fellowship reflections

FOREMOST among the soul’s affections is love. Love is the ruler of every motion of the heart; drawing all to itself, and making us like to that we love. Beware, then, my daughter, of harbouring any evil affection, or you too will become evil. And friendship is the most dangerous of all affections, because any other love may exist without much mental communication, but as friendship is founded thereon, it is hardly possible to be closely bound by its ties to any one without sharing in his qualities.

All love is not friendship, for one may love without any return, and friendship implies mutual love. Further, those who are bound by such affection must be conscious that it is reciprocal,— otherwise there may be love but not friendship; and moreover, there must be something communicated between the friends as a solid foundation of friendship. –The Saint Francis de Sales Collection.

simplicity-desales

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Fellowship matters

A dream pondering thoughts,
The reality of that which is not, to be or not to be, immense deprivation,
A whirlwind world within a seven day work week, time tricking employment, tick-tock, tick-tock
Unholy exhaustion expires the pallet of holy desire, massive drainage, a vortex pulling downward,
Spiraling, lacking, drowning within a multitude of colors, blushing pale and perplexed, tick-tock, tick-tock,
It all coexists, coalescing, prayer and adaption, brutalization beating upon practiced humility,
Realms daily inhabiting confused interactions, coping, arguing, ignoring the blood gouging grins,
The many, loud and crying out for individuality, being unique, set apart, hammer the fists,
The need of being needy amongst the needy, amassed and a mist, the masses, eyes crying cloudy,
Dazed and confused upon the environ of rough landings, many flights never taken, a dodo walks dumb,
The continual confinement of contemplative emancipation, a grounded short-circuit, a fire never started,
Hungry, starving, sacrificial sign of a crucifixion loving, one to both sides, a good and bad thief,
Maybe I am right and maybe I am wrong, acquiescing, quieting the mind, forgiving,
Lord assist me, have mercy,

Remember that there are things which blemish perfect purity, without being in themselves downright acts of impurity. Anything which tends to lessen its intense sensitiveness, or to cast the slightest shadow over it, is of this nature; and all evil thoughts or foolish acts of levity or heedlessness are as steps towards the most direct breaches of the law of chastity. Avoid the society of persons who are wanting in purity, especially if they are bold, as indeed impure people always are…a corrupt pestilential man can scarcely hold communication with others, whether men or women, without damaging their perfect purity— their very glance is venomous, and their breath blighting…seek out good and pure men, read and ponder holy things; for the Word of God is pure, and it will make those pure who study it: wherefore David likens it to gold and precious stones. Always abide close to Jesus Christ Crucified, both spiritually in meditation and actually in Holy Communion….if you rest your heart upon Our Dear Lord, the Very Lamb, Pure and Immaculate, you will find that soon both heart and soul will be purified of all spot or stain.  —The Saint Francis de Sales Collection

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