Annual Retreat Exercise #8: Consideration of the excellence of our soul

October 23, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 274
By St. Francis de Sales

CHAPTER IX.

Considerations suitable for renewing our good purposes.

Having made your examination, and consulted your director on your defects and the proper remedies for them, make use of one of the following considerations every day as a meditation, employing in it the time of your mental prayer, observing the same method as you used in the meditations of the first part, by placing yourself first in the presence of God, and then imploring his grace to establish you in his holy love and service.

CHAPTER X.

The first consideration: the excellence of our soul.

Consider the worth and excellence of your immortal soul, endued with an understanding capable of a knowledge not only of this visible world, but also of the angels, of eternity, of heaven, and of a most high sovereign, and infinitely good God: a soul which, moreover, knows how to live in this visible world, so as to associate herself with the angels in heaven, and to enjoy God for all eternity.

Consider, also, that your soul has a will capable of loving God, and which cannot hate Him in Himself. Examine your heart, and behold how generous it is; and that, as bees can never stay upon any corrupt thing, but only stop among the flowers, so no creature can ever satisfy your heart, for it can never rest but in God alone. Recall to your remembrance the dearest and strongest affections which have heretofore possessed your heart, and judge in truth, whether, in the midst of them, it was not full of anxious inquietudes, tormenting thoughts, and restless cares.

Our heart, alas! runs eagerly in pursuit of creatures, thinking they will satisfy its desires; but as soon as it has overtaken them, it finds its satisfaction still afar off, God not being willing that our hearts should find any resting-place, even as the dove which went out of Noah’s ark could not find one; to the end that it may return to Himself from whom it proceeded. Ah: what natural beauty there is in our heart! Why, then, do we detain it against its will in the service of creatures?

Since then, O my soul! thou art capable of knowing and loving God, why wilt thou amuse thyself with anything less than God? Since thou mayest put in thy claim to eternity, why shouldst thou amuse thyself with transitory moments? It was one of the most grievous reflections of the prodigal son, that he might have fared deliciously at his father’s table, whilst he was feeding amongst filthy swine. Since thou art, O my soul, capable of possessing God, woe be to thee if thou contentest thyself with anything less than God.

Elevate your soul cheerfully with this consideration: remind her that she is immortal and worthy of eternity; animate her with courage on this subject.

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