We must purify our hearts from love of sin

September 24, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 14
By St. Francis de Sales


The second Purification, which is that from affection to sin.

All the Israelites departed, indeed, out of the land of Egypt, but they did not all depart heartily and willingly; wherefore, in the wilderness, many of them repined that they had not the onions and fleshpots of Egypt.

Thus there are penitents who, in effect, forsake sin, but not from their hearts: that is, they purpose to sin no more; but it is with a certain reluctance of heart to abstain from the mischievous delights of sin.

Their hearts renounce sin, and avoid it, but they cease not to look back often that way, as Lot’s wife did towards Sodom.

The abstain from sin, as sick men do from melons, which they abstain from because the physician threatens them with death if they eat them; but it is troublesome to them to refrain: they talk of them and are unwilling to believe them hurtful; they would at least smell them, and account those happy who may eat them.

Thus those weak and faint-hearted penitents abstain from sin for a time, but to their grief: they would like to sin without running the risk of damnation; they speak of sin with a kind of satisfaction and relish, and think those happy who deliver themselves up to it.

A man resolved to revenge himself will renounce the desire in confession; but soon after he will be found among his friends, taking pleasure in speaking of his quarrel, and saying, had it not been for fear of God he would have done this or that. “Oh, how strict is God’s law on this point of forgiving!”

Ah! who does not see that, although this poor man is without sin he is embarrassed with the passion of sin; and, being out of Egypt in effect, he is yet there in desire, longing for the garlic and onions he was wont to eat.

Alas! in how great danger are such penitents!

Since you are willing, Philothea, to undertake a devout life, you must not only forsake sin itself, but also cleanse your heart from all affections to sin.

For, besides the danger of relapsing, these wretched passions will perpetually weigh on and deject your soul, so that you will not be able to do good works, cheerfully, diligently, and frequently: in this, nevertheless, consists the very essence of devotion.

Souls that have quitted sin itself, but do not avoid propensities to sin, may, in my opinion, be compared to delicate girls, not exactly sick, yet having all their actions languid and depressed: they eat without relish, sleep without rest, laugh without delight, and rather drag themselves along than walk.

In such a way these souls do good, but with so great spiritual weariness, that it takes away all the grace from their good works, which are few in number and small in effect.

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