Prosperity vs Divine Providence

January 20, 2022 • 3 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 140
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

UPON PROSPERITY.

Blessed Francis objected strongly to the use of the word fortune, considering it unworthy of utterance by christian lips. The expressions “fortunate,” “by good fortune,” “children of fortune,” all common enough, were repugnant to him. He once said:

I am astonished that Fortune, the most pagan of idols, should have been left standing, when chrisianity so completely demolished all the rest! God forbid that any who ought to be the children of God’s providence alone become children of fortune! and that those whose only hope should be in Him put their trust in the uncertainty of riches!

He spoke yet more strongly of such as professing to be nailed with Jesus Christ to the Cross and to glory only in His reproaches and sufferings, yet were eager in heaping up riches, and, when amassed, in clinging fondly to them. He said:

For the Gospel makes christian blessedness to consist in poverty, contempt, pain, weeping, and persecutions; and even philosophy teaches us that prosperity is the stepmother of true virtue, adversity its mother!

I asked him once how it was that we are so ready to have recourse to God when the thorn of affliction pierces us, and so eager in asking for deliverance from sickness, calumny, famine, and such like misfortunes. He said:

It is our weakness which thus cries out for help, and it is a proof of the infirmity which encompasses us; for as the best and firmest fish feed in the salt waters of the open sea, those which are caught in fresh water being less pleasing to the taste, so the most generous natures find their element in crosses and afflictions, while meaner spirits are only happy in prosperity.

Moreover, it is much easier to love God perfectly in adversity than in prosperity. For tribulation having nothing in itself that is lovable, save that it is God’s gift, it is much easier to go by it straight to the will of God, and to unite ourselves to His good pleasure. Easier, I say, than by prosperity, which has attractions of its own that captivate our senses, and, like Dalila, lull them to sleep, working in us a subtle change, so that we begin insensibly to love for its own sake the prosperity which God sends us, instead of bestowing all our grateful love on God Who sends it, and to Whom all thanks and praise are due!

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