Practical Pietyby St Francis De Sales
De Sales begins: "If is true I am continually imploring that many graces may descend upon your soul; but above all, and for the sake of all, do I ask for divine love; for therein is our all. It is our honey, in which, and by which, all the affections of our hearts should be preserved and sweetened. My God, how happy is the interior kingdom, when this holy loye reigneth there! How happy are the faculties of our soul, which obey a king so holy and so wise! No, under his obedience, and in this state, he suffereth not great sins to dwell, nor even any affection for them. True, he allows them to approach nigh to the frontiers, in order to exercise the interior virtues in war, and to make them valiant; and he suffers venial sins and imperfections, like spies, to run up and down in his kingdom: but that is only to make us know that without him we should be a prey to all our enemies."
The first section discusses our duties towards God. One section even tells us how to deal with temptations against the holy Faith. The next section deals with our duties towards our neighbor.
"It is necessary we should know that love has its seat in the heart, and that we can never love our neighbor too much, or exceed the bounds of reason in that love, provided that it resides in the heart; for, so far as regards the signs of that love, we may easily fall short or exceed, going beyond the rules of sound reason. The great St. Bernard says, that" the measure of loving God is to love him without measure," and that in our love we should assign no limits, but allow it to spread its branches as far as it can. "That is here said of the love of God must also be understood of the love of our neighbor, provided always that the love of God floats above it, and holds the first rank."
Part of our love of neighbor is obedience: "To animate us to obedience when we are tempted against it, we should consider its excellence, its beauty, its merit, and even its utility. This observation applies to souls who are not yet well settled in the love of obedience; for when there is merely question of a simple aversion or disgust, we must make an act of love and apply ourselves to the work. Our Lord, even in his passion, felt a sorrow even unto death, as he himself says; but in the sharp point of his spirit he was resigned to the will of his Father; all the rest was a movement of nature."
The virtue of simplicity is described as well: "Simplicity is nothing else than an act of pure and simple charity, which has only one end, namely, that of pleasing God; and our soul is simple, when we have no other pretension in whatever we do."
The next section discusses our duties towards ourselves: "Self-love may be mortified in us, but it, notwithstanding, never dies: on the contrary, from time to time, and on different occasions, it shoots forth germs in us which show that although it may be cut off at the stalk, it is not yet rooted up."
We follow with a section on devotion: "The virtue of devotion is nothing else than a general inclination and promptitude of spirit in doing that which one knows is agreeable to God."
We close with reflections on the principle feasts of the ecclesiastical year.
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