We must treat of our affairs with diligence, but without eagerness or solicitude.

August 27, 2021 • 5 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 126
By St. Francis de Sales

That care and diligence wherewith we ought to attend to our affairs must never be confounded with anxiety and solicitude.

The angels are careful of our salvation, and procure it with diligence, yet they are never agitated either by anxiety or solicitude; for care and diligence naturally result from their charity, whereas solicitude and anxiety are utterly incompatible with their felicity; because the former may be accompanied by a calm and tranquil state of mind, whereas the latter never can.

Be careful and attentive then, Philothea, to all those affairs which God has committed to your care, for such a disposition in you is agreeable to the will of his Divine Majesty, without suffering your care and attention to degenerate into inquietude and anxiety; do not worry your spirits about them, for an over-solicitude disturbs the reason and judgment, and prevents us from doing that properly, for the execution of which we are so eager and anxious.

When our Lord reproached Martha, He said: “Martha, Martha, thou art solicitous and art troubled about many things!” You must here observe that she would not have been troubled had she been but merely diligent; but being over-concerned and disquieted, she hurried and troubled herself, and therefore received this reprehension from our Lord.

As rivers that flow slowly through the plains bear large boats and rich merchandise, and the rain which falls gently in the open fields makes them fruitful in grass and corn; or as torrents and rivers, which run rapidly, and overflow the grounds, ruin the bordering country, and render it unprofitable for traffic, so in like manner violent and tempestuous rains injure the fields and meadows.

That work is never well executed which is done with too much eagerness and hurry.

We must hasten leisurely, says the old proverb: “He that is in haste,” says Solomon, “is in danger of stumbling” (Prov. xix. 2).

We do our business soon enough when we do it well.

As drones, although they make more noise, and seem more eager to work than bees, make only wax and no honey, so they that hurry themselves with a tormenting anxiety and eager solicitude never do much, nor is what they do profitable.

As flies trouble us, not by their strength but by their multitude, so affairs of importance give us not so much trouble as trifling ones when they are great in number.

Undertake, then, all your affairs with a calm and peaceable mind, and endeavour to despatch them in order, one after another; for if you make an effort to do them all at once, or without order, your spirit will be so overcharged and depressed that it will probably lie down under the burden without effecting anything.

In all your affairs rely wholly on Divine Providence, through which alone you must look for success; labour, nevertheless, quietly on your part to cooperate with its designs, and then you may be assured if you trust, as you ought, in God, that the success which shall come to you, will be always that which is the most profitable for you, whether it appeared good or bad, according to your private judgment.

Imitate little children, who, as they with one hand cling to their father, and with the other gather berries along the hedges, so you, gathering and holding the goods of this world with one hand, must with the other always cling, to the hand of your heavenly Father, turning towards Him from time to time to see if your actions or occupations are pleasing to Him; but, above all things, take heed that you never let go his protecting hand, through a desire to gather too much worldly goods; for should He forsake you you will not be able to go a step further without falling to the ground.

My meaning is, Philothea, that amidst those ordinary affairs and occupations which do not require so earnest an attention, you should look more to God than on them; and when they are of such importance as to require your whole attention, that then also you should look from time to time towards God, like mariners, who, in order to arrive at the port to which they are bound, look more up towards heaven than down on the sea, in order to guide their ship; thus will God work with you, in you, and for you, and your labour shall be followed by consolation.

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