Prohibited Games

July 1, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 191
By St. Francis de Sales

Chapter XXXII.

Prohibited Games

Games of dice, cards, and the like, which depend principally upon chance, are not only dangerous recreations, like dances, but evidently bad and reprehensible; hence they have been forbidden by the laws, both ecclesiastical and civil.

You will ask, perhaps, what great harm can there be in them? There is: for the gain is not acquired at these games according to reason, but chance, which often falls upon him whose ability and industry deserves nothing; and reason is offended at such a proceeding.

But you will say it is according to an agreement entered into by the persons concerned. That serves, indeed, to show that the winner does no wrong to the loser, but it justifies neither the agreement nor the game: for the gain which ought to be the recompense of industry is made the reward of chance, which deserves none whatever, since it in no way depends upon us.

Besides, although these games bear the name of recreations, yet they are by no means recreations, but tiresome occupations; for is it not tiresome to keep the mind incessantly occupied, intent to a high degree, and annoyed by perpetual apprehensions and solicitudes?

Can there be any attention more painful, gloomy, and melancholy than that of gamesters? You must neither speak, laugh, nor cough, whilst they are at play, for fear of giving them offence.

In fact, they feel no joy at play but when they win: and is not that joy iniquitous, which can only be caused by the loss and displeasure of a friend or companion. Surely such satisfaction is infamous.

For these three reasons this species of gaming is prohibited.

St. Louis, on hearing that the Count of Anjou, his brother, and Monsier Gautier de Nemours, were gaming, arose from his sick-bed, went staggering to their chamber, and cast the tables, the dice, and part of the money out at the window into the sea, and was very angry with them.

The holy and chaste damsel Sara, addressing God in prayer, brings forward this argument of her innocence: “Thou knowest, O Lord, that I have never joined myself with them that play.” (Tob. iii.)

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