The True Widow must Give Herself Entirely to God

September 3, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 214
By St. Francis de Sales

Second [requirement to be a “widow indeed”]

Moreover, this renunciation of second marriage must be done with the simple intent of turning all the affections of the soul towards God, and of joining the heart on every side with that of his Divine Majesty;

For if the desire to leave her children rich, or any other worldly consideration, should keep the widow in the state of widowhood, she may perhaps have praise for it, but certainly not before God; for in the eyes of God nothing can truly merit praise but that which is done for his sake.


Moreover, the widow that would be a widow indeed, must voluntarily separate and restrain herself from profane satisfactions: “For she that liveth in pleasures is dead while she is living” (1 Tim. v. 6).

To desire to be a widow, and to be nevertheless pleased with being courted, flattered, and caressed; to be fond of balls, dancing, and feasting; to be perfumed, finely dressed, &c., is to be a widow, living as to the body, but dead as to the soul.

The widow, then, who lives in these fond delights, is dead while she lives, and therefore, properly speaking, she is but a semblance of widowhood.

"The time for pruning is come, the voice of the turtle hath been heard in our land,” says the Canticle. All who would live devoutly must prune and cut away all worldly superfluities. But this is more particularly necessary for the true widow, who like a chaste turtle-dove comes fresh from weeping, bewailing, and lamenting the loss of her husband.

When Noemi returned from Moab to Bethlehem, the women of the town who had known her when she was first married, said one to another: “Is not that Noemi?” (Ruth, i. 20.) “But she answered, Call me not Noemi, I pray you, for Noemi signifies comely and beautiful; but call me Mara, for the Lord hath filled my soul with bitterness:” this she said on account of having lost her husband.

Even so the devout widow never desires to be esteemed either beautiful or comely, contenting herself with being such as God will have her to be, that is to say, humble and abject in her own eyes.

As lamps that are fed with aromatic oil cast a more sweet smell when their flame is put out, so widows whose love has been pure in their marriage, send forth a more sweet perfume of virtue and chastity, when their light, namely, their husband, is extinguished by death.

To love the husband as long as he lives is an ordinary thing among women; but to love him so well, that after his death she will hear of no other, is a degree of love which apportas only to those that are widows indeed.

To hope in God, whilst the husband serves as a support, is a thing not so rare; but to hope in God, when one is destitute of this support, is a thing worthy of great praise.

Therefore it is more easy to know, in widowhood, the perfection of the virtues which a woman had during her married life.

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