Widows must be Firm in their Resolve to Remain Widows

September 2, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 212
By St. Francis de Sales


Instructions for Widows.

St. Paul instructs all prelates in the person of Timothy, saying: “Honour widows that are widows indeed” (1 Tim. v. 3). Now, to be a widow indeed, the following things are required:


That the widow be not only a widow in body, but in heart also; that is, that she make an inviolable resolution to keep herself in a state of chaste widowhood; for those that are only widows till an opportunity presents itself of being married again, are still joined to men, according to the will of the heart.

But if she that is a widow indeed, in order to confirm herself in the state of widowhood, will offer her body and her chastity by vow to God, she adds a great ornament to her widowhood, and gives great security to her resolution; for since, after her vow, she has it no longer in her power to quit her chastity without giving up her title to heaven, she will be so jealous of her design, that she will not suffer even the least thought of marriage to occupy her heart for a single moment; so that this sacred vow will serve as a strong barrier between her soul and all manner of projects contrary to her resolution.

St. Augustine advises this vow very strenuously to the Christian widow; and the ancient and learned Origen goes much farther, for he exhorts married women to vow and dedicate themselves to a chaste widowhood, in case their husbands die before them; to the end that, amidst the sensual pleasures of marriage, they may also, by means of this anticipated promise, enjoy the merit of a chaste widowhood.

A vow not only makes the good works done in consequence thereof more acceptable to God, but also encourages us to put them into execution; it gives to God not only the good works which are the fruits of our good will, but dedicates likewise to Him the will itself, which is the tree of all our actions.

By simple chastity we lend, as it were, our body to God, retaining, notwithstanding, a liberty to subject it another day to sensual pleasures, but by the vow of chastity we make Him an absolute and irrevocable gift of it, without reserving to ourselves any power of recalling it, and thus happily render ourselves bond-slaves to Him, whose bondage is better than any kingdoms.

Now, as I highly approve of the advice of those two great persons, so I should wish that those souls which are so happy as to desire to follow it, should do it prudently, holily, and solidly, having first well examined their resolutions, invoked the light and grace of heaven, and taken the advice of some wise and devout director: by this means all will be done with more fruit.

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