Annual Retreat: We ought every year to renew our good resolutions by the following exercises

October 13, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 262
By St. Francis de Sales

PART THE FIFTH.

INSTRUCTIONS AND EXERCISES NECESSARY FOR RENEWING THE SOUL, AND CONFIRMING HER IN DEVOTION.

CHAPTER I.

We ought every year to renew our good resolutions by the following exercises.

The first point of these exercises consists in our being thoroughly sensible of their importance.

Human nature easily falls off from its good affections, on account of the frailty and evil inclinations of the flesh, which depress the soul, and draw her always downwards, unless she often raises herself upwards by continual efforts: just like birds, which will fall to the ground if they do not keep their wings constantly in motion, so as to sustain their flight.

For this reason, Philothea, you must repeat very often the good resolutions you have made to serve God, lest, by neglecting to do so, you should relapse into your former state, or even into a worse condition; for spiritual falls always cast us down to a lower state than that in which we were before we aspired to devotion.

As there is no watch, be it ever so good, but must be often wound up, and now and then taken asunder to remove rust and dust, and have mended or repaired what may be broken or out of order, so he that is careful of his soul ought to wind it up morning and evening by the foregoing exercises, and, at least, once a year take it asunder to examine all its dispositions, in order to repair all its defects; and as the watchmaker puts fine oil on the wheels and springs, that their motions may be more easy, and the works of the watch less subject to rust, so a devout person, after making this review of his heart, in order to renew it, must anoint it with the graces received in confession and the Holy Eucharist. This exercise will repair your spirit, impaired by time, warm your heart, reanimate your good resolutions, and make your virtues flourish vigorously.

The primitive Christians practised this diligently on the anniversary day of the baptism of our Lord, when, as St. Gregory Nazianzen relates, they renewed those professions and protestations that are usually made in baptism. Let us also, Philothea, seriously dispose ourselves to follow their example.

Having, then, for this purpose, chosen the most convenient time, according to the advice of your spiritual father, for a retreat of a few days, meditate on the following points, according to the method I have prescribed in the second part.

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