Have courage when abandoning follies and vanities

July 17, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 222
By St. Francis de Sales

We must always have courage.

Light, though it is beautiful and lovely to our eyes, nevertheless dazzles them after we have been long in the dark. Before we become familiar with the inhabitants of any country, be they ever so courteous and gracious, we find ourselves somewhat strange amongst them.

It may probably happen, Philothea, that this general farewell which you have bid to the follies and vanities of the world may make some impressions of sadness and discouragement on your mind. If this should be the case, have a little patience, I beg of you, for it will come to nothing. It is but a little strangeness, occasioned by novelty; when it has passed away you will feel ten thousand consolations.

It may perhaps be painful to you at first to relinquish that praise which your vanities extorted from foolish worldlings; but would you for the sake of that forfeit the eternal glory with which God will assuredly recompense you?

The vain amusements and pastimes in which you have hitherto employed your time will again present themselves to allure our heart, and cause it to turn towards them; but will you resolve to renounce eternal happiness for such deceitful fooleries?

Believe me, if you persevere, you will quickly receive consolations so delicious and agreeable as shall oblige you to confess that the world has nothing but gall in comparison with this honey, and that one day of devotion is preferable to a thousand years expended in all the pleasures it can afford.

But you see that the mountain of Christian perfection is exceeding high; O my God, you say, how shall I be able to ascend.

Courage, Philothea.

When the young bees begin to assume their form they are unable to fly to the flowers, the mountains, or the neighbouring hills, to gather honey; but, by continuing to feed on the honey which the old ones have prepared, their wings appear, and they acquire sufficient strength to fly and seek their food all over the country.

It is true we are yet young bees in devotion, and consequently unable to rise so high as to reach the top of Christian perfection; but, according as our desires and resolutions take shape, and our wings grow, we may reasonably hope that we shall one day become spiritual bees, and be able to fly; in the meantime let us feed upon the honey of the many good instructions which other devout persons have left us, and pray to God to give us wings like a dove, that we may not only be enabled to fly up during this present life, but also rest on the mountain of eternity in the life to come.

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