It's hard to be humble in today's world. It seems like a weakness, and people can walk all over us. Does humility mean that we have to deny all the abilities and talents we have? De Sales gives us advice that leads to genuine humility.
"Certainly nothing can so effectively humble us before God's mercy as the multitude of his benefits, and nothing can so deeply humble us before his justice as our countless offenses against him. Let us consider what he has done for us and what we have done against him, and as we reflect on our sins one by one, let us also consider his graces one by one. There is no need to fear that knowledge of his gifts will make us proud if only we remember this truth, that none of the good in us comes from ourselves... What good do we possess that we have not received? And if we received it, why do we glory in it? On the contrary, a lively consideration of graces received makes us humble because knowledge of them begets gratitude for them."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 5 (p. 135)
Prayer thought for the day: Your graces, Lord, keep me humble.
Why is it so easy for us to get angry and so difficult to control it? So many things happen that can bother us. and some people just seem to know how to get us going. What can we do? De Sales urges us to be courageous.
"It is better to attempt to find a way to live without anger than to pretend to make a moderate, discreet use of it. When we find ourselves surprised into anger through our own imperfection and frailty, it is better to drive it away quickly than to start a discussion with it. if we give it ever so little time, it will become mistress of the place... 'But how shall I banish it?' you may ask me... At the first attack you must immediately muster your forces, not violently and tumultuously, but mildly and yet seriously. Among the crowds in certain senate chambers and parliaments we see ushers crying, 'Quiet there!' thus making more noise than those they want to silence. So too it often happens that by trying violently to restrain our anger, we stir up more trouble within our heart than wrath excited before and being this agitated our heart can no longer be its own master."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 8 (p. 148)
Couper court- cut short self-serving thoughts and feelings and reach out for grace.
--- Mother Mary de Sales Chappuis, VHM
Prayer thought for the day: Help me, Lord, to cut short any selfish thoughts and feelings today.
Our tongue is a might weapon, mightier than we may realize. What we say and how we say it can encourage for good or discourage for evil. Our words contribute to how others see us and relate with us. De Sales offers a few wise words.
"Whenever I speak of my neighbor, the tongue in my mouth is like a scalpel in the hand of the surgeon who wishes to cut between the nerves and the tendons. The stroke I give must be neither more nor less than the truth... We must be especially careful when condemning a vice to spare as much as possible the person in whom it is found."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 29 (p. 205)
"Our words are a true indication of the state of our souls... Always speak of God as of God, that is, reverently and devoutly, not with outward show or affectation buy in a spirit of gentleness, charity, and humility."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 26 (p. 193-194)
"As far as possible pass favorable judgments on your neighbor. If an action has many different aspects, we must always think of which is the best."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 28 (p. 199)
Prayer thought for the day: With Your grace, may my tongue be loving today.
It's so easy sometimes to become discouraged in our efforts to be holy. The more we try, the more we realize how imperfect we are. How can we ever make any real progress with all these imperfections? Here's what de Sales wrote:
"We must not be disturbed at our imperfections, since for us perfection consists in fighting against our imperfections."
---Introduction, Part 1, Chapter 5 (p. 48)
"We must not fret over our own imperfections. Although reason requires that we must be displeased and sorry whenever we commit a fault, we must refrain from bitter, gloomy, spiteful, and emotional displeasure. many people are greatly at fault in this way. When overcome by anger they become angry, disturbed at being disturbed, and vexed at being vexed."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 9 (p. 149)
"Our examination must never lead us to question whether we are imperfect - for that we must never doubt. It follows that we must never be astonished at finding ourselves imperfect, since we should never see ourselves any different in his life. We should not be saddened by it because there is no cure for it.
---St. Francis de Sales, Letter to a novice. (From Thy Will Be Done)
Prayer thought for the day: Thankfully I am imperfect and loved.
Poverty isn't very popular these days. even poverty in spirit doesn't fit into today's thinking. Everyone seems to be interested in acquiring enough material goods to be content. Yet we hear Jesus tell us, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, ..." What are we to do? De Sales tells us:
"Our possessions are not our own. God has give them to us to cultivate and he wants us to make them fruitful and profitable. Hence we perform an acceptable service by taking good care of them. it must be a greater and finer care than that which worldly people have for their property. They labor out of self-love and must labor out of love of God....
Frequently give up some of your property by giving it with a generous heart to the poor. To give away what we have is to impoverish ourselves in proportion as we give, and the more we give the poorer we become.
If you love the poor, be often with them. Be glad to see them in your own home and to visit with them in theirs."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 15 (pp. 164-165)
"Whatever part of (riches and transitory things) you may possess, you must keep your heart from the slightest affection for them... Do not allow this heavenly spirit to become captive to earthly goods."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 14 (p. 162)
Prayer thought for the day: Help me to care for all that You have given me.
Living a chaste life in today's world is a challenge. So much sexually explicit material is set before us on TV and in books and magazines that it's hard not to be tempted by them. De Sales gives us sound advice on disciplining ourselves:
"Be very quick to turn away from whatever leads or allures to lewd conduct, for this evil works without knowing it and from small beginnings moves on to great difficulties. Such things are always easier to avoid than to cure…"
Chastity depends on the heart as its source, but looks to the body as its subject. For this reason it may be lost both by the body's external senses and by thoughts and desires within the heart. It is an act of impurity to look at, hear, speak, smell, or touch anything immodest if our heart is entertained thereby and takes pleasure in it."
"Associate with chaste, virtuous people and often think and read about sacred things... Always keep yourself close to Jesus Christ crucified, both spirituality by meditation and really by Holy Communion... if you rest you your heart on our Lord, who is the true chaste and immaculate Lamb, you will see that your soul and your heart will soon be cleansed of all stain and lewdness."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 13 (p. 259-261)
Prayer thought for the day: My whole being, body and soul, wants to be filled by You, Lord.
There's something invigorating about visions of great deeds done for the Lord. The lives of many saints seem to be marked by extraordinary deeds of courage and faith. Each of us has dreamed at some time of some wonderful way that we can show our love for the Lord. De Sales brings us back to the reality of being holy.
"Great opportunities to serve God rarely present themselves but little ones are frequent. Whoever will be ' faithful over a few things' will be placed 'over many,' says the Savior. 'Do all things in the name of God,' and you will do all things well. Provided you know how to fulfill your duties properly, then 'whether you eat or drink,' whether you sleep or take recreation or turn the spit, you will profit greatly in God's sight by doing all these things because God wishes you to do them."
---Introduction, Part 3, Chapter 35 (p. 215)
Prayer thought for the day: May I do everything today with great love for You, Lord.