Knowing and doing the will for God is at the core of "being holy" in our daily lives. Knowing God's will for me requires a process of discernment, and going God's will requires the willingness to put aside my own will when there is a conflict. De Sales can help us to understand how we come to know God's will.
"Christian doctrine clearly proposes to us the truths God wills us to believe, the goods he wills us to hope for, the punishments he wills us to fear, the things he wills us to love, the commandments he wills us to fulfill, and the counsels he desires us to follow. All of this is called the signified will of God, because he has signified and made manifest his will and intention that all these things should be believed, hoped for, feared, loved, and practiced... Therefore conformity of our heart with God's signified will consists in the fact that we will all that God's goodness signified to us as his intention, so that we believe according to his teaching, hope according to his promises, fear according to his warnings, and love and live according to his ordinations and admonitions."
---Treatise, Book 8, Chapter 4 (p. 62)
"The indifferent heart is like a ball of wax in God's hands, ready to receive all the impressions of his eternal good pleasure. .. It does not place its love in the things God wills but in the will of God who wills them. ... Indifference must be practiced in things that concern natural life, such as health, sickness, beauty, ugliness, weakness, and strength; in things that concern civil life, such as honors, rank, and wealth; in the various aspects of the spiritual life, such as dryness, consolation, relish, and aridity, in actions and in sufferings; in sum, in every even of every kind."
---Treatise, Book 9, Chapter 4 (pp. 106-107)
Prayer thought for the day: Mold me with Your hands.
Prayer is an integral part of "being holy." Any relationship that means something needs to have communication. But conversation with God? What should we be conversing about? De Sales offers a profitable piece of advice.
"Since prayer places our intellect in the brilliance of God's light and exposes our will to the warmth of his heavenly love, nothing else so effectively purifies our intellect of ignorance and our will of depraved affections. It is a stream of holy water that flows forth and makes the plants of our good desires grow green and flourish and quenches the passions within our hearts."
---Introduction, Part 2, Chapter 1 (p. 81)
"In prayer we talk to God and God also speaks to us; we aspire to him and he inspires us; we are alive to him and he lived in us. But what do we talk about in prayer? ...God, nothing else. After all, what does a lover talk about but his beloved."
---Treatise, Book 6, Chapter 1 (p. 268)
Prayer thought for the day: Jesus, may I learn from You today.
"Being holy" is a daily task. How will we go about our day, what will we say and do? Everything involved with daily living is a part of "being holy." De Sales offers some advice on beginning each day of "being holy."
1. Be mindful that you live in God's presence.
2. Remember that the present day is given to you in order to gain the future day of eternity and make a firm purpose to employ the day well for this intention.
3. Anticipate what tasks, transactions, and occasions for serving God you may meet on this day and to what temptations of offending him you will be exposed, whether by anger, vanity, or some other irregularity. By a holy resolution prepare yourself to make the best use of the means that will be offered to you to serve God and advance in devotion. On the other hand, carefully prepare to avoid, resist, or overcome whatever may be encountered that is opposed to your salvation and God's glory. It is not sufficient simply to make this resolution; you must also prepare means of putting it into practice. For example, if I foresee that I will have to discuss some matter with a man who is emotional and prone to anger, I will not only resolve to keep from giving him offense but I will think of pleasant words to prevent his anger or get the assistance of someone who can keep him in good humor...
4. This done, humble yourself in the presence of God and acknowledge that by yourself you can do none of the things you have decided on, whether of avoiding evil or of doing good. As though holding your heart in your hands, offer it along with all your good purposes to his Divine Majesty, beseeching him to take it under his protection and strengthen it so that it may turn out successfully in his service."
---Introduction, Part 2, Chapter 10 (p. 94)
Prayer thought for the day: You are with me today.
Often enough those who pray regularly take the time to meditate early in the morning so that they can begin their day with nourishment from the Lord. De Sales offers us a suggestion for allowing our morning's prayer to nourish us during the rest of the day.
"I especially counsel you to, practice mental prayer, the prayer of the heart, and particularly that which centers on the life and passion of our Lord. By often turning your eyes on him in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with him. You will learn his ways and form your actions after the pattern of his. He 'light of the world,' and therefore it is in him and by him and for him that we must be instructed and enlightened. He is the tree of desire in whose shade we must be refreshed. He is that living 'fountain of Jacob' in which we can wash ourselves clean of all our stains. Finally, just as little children learn to speak by listening to their mothers and lisping words with them, so also by keeping close to our Savior in meditation and observing his words, actions, and affections we learn by his grace to speak, act, and will like him."
---Introduction, Part 2, Chapter 1 (p. 87)
"Gather a little devotional bouquet...one, two, or three points that we liked best and that are most adapted to our improvement, think frequently about them, and smell them spiritually during the rest of the day!"
"After you rise from meditation you must remember the resolutions and decisions you have made and carefully put them into effect on that very day. This is the great fruit of meditation and without it meditation if often not only useless but even harmful."
---Introduction, Part 2, Chapter 7 & 8 (p. 90)
Prayer thought for the day: I will smell my bouquet often today.
It's easy to begin the day with a consciousness of God's presence and love. What seems to be harder for us is to be conscious of His presence as the busyness of the day takes over. Many of the things we do become routine and don't seem to have much to do with God's will. De Sales shows us a way to bring a continuing mindfulness of grace to everything we do.
"They who wish to thrive and advance in the way of the Lord should, at the beginning of their actions, both interior and exterior, ask for his grace and offer to his diving Goodness all the good they will do. In this way they will be prepared to bear with peace and serenity all the pain and suffering they will encounter as coming from the fatherly hand of our good God and Savior. His most holy intention is to have them merit by such means in order to reward them afterwards out of the abundance of his love.
They should not neglect this practice in matters which are small and seemingly insignificant, nor even if they are engaged in those things which are agreeable and in complete conformity with their own will and needs, such as drinking, eating, resting, recreating and similar actions. By following the advice of the Apostle (Paul), everything they do will be done in God's name to please him alone."
---Spiritual Directory, Article 1 (pp. 23-24)
Prayer thought for the day: May I remember, Lord, that you grace each moment I live.
At the end of the day, all of us are tired and prayer doesn't come easily. We can feel scattered. De Sales offers us an evening prayer exercise that can help us to pull the day together and give it peaceful closure.
"1. We give thanks to God for having kept us during the past day.
2. We examine how we conducted ourselves throughout the whole course of the day. To do so more easily, we may reflect on where, with whom, and in what work we have been engaged.
3. If we find that we have done any good, we must thank God for it. On the other hand, if we have done anything wrong in thought, word, or deed, we must ask pardon of his Divine Majesty with a resolution to confess it at the first opportunity and to make careful amendment for it.
4. After this we recommend to God's providence our body and soul, the Church, our relatives, and friends. We beg our Lady, our guardian angel, and the saints to watch over us and for us. Thus with God's blessing, we go to take the rest that the has decreed as necessary for us."
---Introduction, Part 2, Chapter 11 (pp. 95-96)
Prayer thought for the day: I put myself in Your hands.
Sometimes prayer is easy because we feel so good about it. God's presence seems very real and it's comforting to converse. But there are times when we want to pray and God feels very far away. Conversation is a struggle. De Sales gives us good reason to converse anyway.
"We must from time to time renounce such delights, tender feelings, and consolations by withdrawing our heart from them and protesting that although we humbly accept them and love them because God sends them and they arouse us to his love, yet it is not such things that we seek but God an his holy love. It is not the consolations we seek but the Consoler, not their sweetness but the sweet Savior, not their tenderness but him who is the delight of heaven and earth. In this spirit we must resolve to stand fast in a holy love of God even though we may never find any consolation throughout our whole life. We must be ready, as ready on Mt. Calvary as on Mount Tabor, to say, 'Lord, it is good for me to be with you, whether you are on the Cross or in your glory."
---Introduction, Part 4, Chapter 13 (p. 261)
Prayer thought for the day: Wherever I am, it is good to be with You, Lord.