Our holy anchor in all things

July 27, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 243
By St. Francis de Sales

Of spiritual and sensible consolations, and how we must behave with regard to them.

God continues the existence of this great world in perpetual changes, by which day is always succeeded by night, spring by summer, summer by autumn, autumn by winter, and winter again by spring.

Days seldom exactly resemble each other: some are cloudy, others rainy; some dry, others windy; thus causing variety, which adds considerably to the beauty of the universe.

It is the same with man, who, according to the saying of old writers, is an epitome of the universe, or another little world, for he never remains long in the one and the same state; his life flows on upon earth like the waters, floating and undulating in a perpetual diversity of motion, which sometimes lifts him up with hope; sometimes brings him down with fear, sometimes carries him to the right hand by consolation, sometimes to the left by affliction, and not one of his days, not even one of his hours, is in every respect like another.

Now it is necessary that we should endeavour to preserve an inviolable equality of heart, amidst so great an inequality of occurrences; and that, although all things change around us, we should remain constantly immovable, ever looking and aspiring towards God.

Let the ship take what course it will, let it sail towards the east, west, north, or south, or let it be driven by any wind whatsoever, the needle of the compass will never point any other way but towards the bright polar star.

Let all be overturned and disturbed, not only around us, but within us, that is to say, let our soul be overwhelmed with sorrow or joy, sweetness or bitterness, peace or trouble, light or darkness, temptation or repose, pleasure or disgust, dryness or tenderness; whether it be like earth burned by the sun or refreshed by the dew, yet our heart, our spirit, and our superior will, which is our compass, must incessantly tend towards the love of God, its Creator, its Saviour, its only Sovereign Good.

“Whether we live or die,” says the apostle (Rom. xiv. 8), “we belong to the Lord.” And, “Who shall be able to separate us from the love of God?” No, nothing shall separate us from this love: neither tribulation, nor anguish, nor death, nor life, nor present grief, nor the fear of future accidents, nor the artifices of evil spirits, nor the height of consolations, nor the depth of afflictions, nor tenderness, nor dryness, ought ever to separate us from this holy charity, which is founded in Jesus Christ.

This fixed and absolute resolution never to forsake God, nor to abandon his sweet love, serves as a counterpoise to our souls, to keep them in a holy equilibrium amidst the inequality of the several motions attached to the condition of this life; for as little bees, surprised by a storm in the fields, take up little pieces of gravel, that they may be able to balance themselves in the air, and not be so easily carried away by the wind; so our soul, having, by a strong resolution, firmly embraced the precious love of God, continues constant in the midst of the inconstancy and vicissitudes of consolations and afflictions, whether spiritual or temporal, exterior or interior.

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