We ought to purify ourselves from an affection for useless and dangerous things

October 11, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 43

CHAPTER XXIII.

We ought to purify ourselves from an affection for useless and dangerous things.

Games, balls, feasts, dress, theatres, are not evil things in their nature, but indifferent, and may be used both well and ill; yet, notwithstanding, these things are dangerous, and to have an affection for them is yet more dangerous.

I say then, Philothea, that, although it may be lawful to play, to dance, to adorn yourself, to be present at moral dramas, and at banquets; yet to be over fond of such things is contrary to devotion, and very offensive and dangerous.

It is no sin to do such things, but it is a sin to pursue them to extremes. It is a pity to sow in the garden of our heart such vain and foolish affections, which take up the room of virtuous impressions, and hinder the sap of our souls from nourishing good inclinations.

The ancient Nazarites abstained not only from all that might inebriate, but also from grapes; not that the grape makes drunk, but because it is to be feared that, tasting the grape, they might be tempted to drink the wine.

I do not deny that we may use sometimes these dangerous things; but I assert that we can never be fond of them without prejudice to devotion.

The stags, when they find themselves too fat, retire amongst the bushes, knowing that, being burdened with their own weight, they are not able to run if they should be hunted. The heart of man, overcharged with those superfluous, unprofitable, and perilous affections, cannot run after God readily, swiftly, and lightly, which is the principal point of devotion.

Little children delight and heat themselves in catching butterflies, and none think it ill in them, because they are little children; but is it not a ridiculous, nay, rather a lamentable thing to see men amuse and busy themselves with such unbecoming toys and trifles as those which I have named?—which, besides their unprofitableness, put us in danger of committing disorders and extravagances in their pursuit.

Wherefore, Philothea, I say that we must necessarily purify ourselves from these affections; for though the acts are not always contrary to devotion, yet the affections are always prejudicial to it.

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