Annual Retreat Exercise #4: An examination of our state with regard to ourselves

October 20, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 270
By St. Francis de Sales

CHAPTER V.

An examination of our state with regard to ourselves.

How do you love yourself? Do you not love yourself too much for this world? If so, you will desire to live always here, and be very solicitous to establish yourself on this earth; but if you love yourself for heaven, you will desire, or at least be content, to depart from hence at whatsoever hour it shall please the Lord.

Do you regulate well the love you feel for yourself? For it is only the inordinate love of ourselves that will be our ruin.

Now, a well-ordered love requires that we should love the soul better than the body; that we should be more solicitous to acquire virtue than any other thing; that we should set a higher estimation on the favour of heaven than on the honour of this low and perishable world.

A well-ordered heart will oftener say within itself: “What will the angels say,” if I think upon such a thing? than, “What will men say?”

What kind of love have you for your own heart? Do you not get annoyed at having to serve it in its sickness? Alas! you ought to assist and procure assistance for it, and lay aside all things else, whenever passions torment it.

What do you esteem yourself before God? Doubtless nothing. It is no great humility in a fly to esteem itself nothing in comparison with a mountain; nor for a drop of water to hold itself as nothing in comparison with the sea; nor for a spark of fire to hold itself as nothing when compared with the sun; but humility consists in not esteeming ourselves above others, and in not desiring to be so esteemed by others. How are you disposed in this regard?

As to your tongue; do you not sometimes boast of yourself one way or other? Do you not flatter yourself in speaking of yourself?

As to recreations; do you allow yourself any pleasures contrary to your health? I mean any vain, unprofitable, useless pleasures, or such as are prolonged too much into the night.

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