We must purify ourselves from our natural imperfections

October 12, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 45
By St. Francis de Sales


We must purify ourselves from our natural imperfections.

We have besides, Philothea, certain natural inclinations, which, because they do not proceed from our particular sins, are not properly sins, neither mortal nor venial, but are called imperfections, and their acts are termed faults or omissions.

For example, St. Paula, as St. Jerome relates, had a great natural tendency to grief and sadness; so that, at the death of her children and husband, she ran a risk of dying of sorrow;—this was a great imperfection, but not a sin, since she had it against her will.

There are some naturally cheerful, others moody; some annoyed at being given advice, others inclined to indignation and anger; others to human affections: and, in fine, there are few persons in whom some such imperfections may not be observed.

Now, although they are, as it were, common and natural to everyone, yet, by care and contrary affections, they may be corrected and moderated, and we may even purify and free our souls from them. And I tell thee, Philothea, we ought to do so.

Men have succeeded in changing the bitter almond-tree into the sweet by piercing it near the root, so as to let out the juice; and why may not we let out our perverse inclinations and become better? There is no nature so good that it may not be corrupted by vicious customs; nor so perverse that it may not, first by the grace of God, and next by proper diligence, be reduced and overcome.

I will, therefore, now give you the instructions, and propose the exercises, by which you may purge your soul from dangerous affections to venial sins, and secure your conscience also, more and more, against all mortal sin. May God give you the grace to practise them well!

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