The faithfulness and love with which we do our devotions is what brings us to perfection

April 10, 2022 • 4 min

#DoctorsOfTheChurch #Doctrine #Example #WhatTheSaintsSay #Devotion

From The Spiritual Conferences of St. Francis de Sales, page 113
By St. Francis de Sales

How foolish are those who waste time and thought in desiring to be martyred in the Indies, but do not apply themselves to the duties of their state of life! And how mistaken are those who wish to eat more than they can digest! We have not sufficient spiritual warmth to be able to digest thoroughly all that we take in for our perfection, and yet we will not cut off our fretting desires to be always doing more and more.

To read many spiritual books, especially if they are new; to speak eloquently of God and of all the most spiritual subjects, in order, we say, to excite ourselves to devotion; to hear many sermons, to assist at conferences on every occasion, to go very often to Communion, to confession still oftener; to tend the sick; to speak fluently of all that passes within us, so as to make it evident to others that we are aiming at perfection, and wish to attain it as soon as possible; are not all these things calculated to make us perfect, and to bring us quickly to the goal of our desires?

Yes, provided that we do them in the manner prescribed, and always in dependence on the grace of God; that is, provided that we do not put our trust in all this, good though it may be, but in God alone, Who alone can increase the growth of the fruits* of all our exercises.

But, my dear daughters, I entreat you to consider a little the lives of the great and holy Religious.

Look at St. Anthony, honoured by God and by men on account of his great sanctity. Tell me, how did he reach such heights of holiness and perfection? Was it by much reading, or by conferences and frequent Communions, or by the multitudes of sermons which he heard?

Not at all; he became so great a Saint by making use of the example of the holy hermits, taking the abstinence of one, the prayer of another, like a diligent bee, going hither and thither, pilfering and storing up the virtues of the servants of God, to make the honey of sanctity by these holy examples.

Or, again, did St. Paul, the first hermit, arrive at his sanctity by the reading of good books? He had none at all. Or by the Communions which he made, or the confessions? He made but two in all his life. Or by conferences or sermons? He never heard any; and the only human being whom he saw in the desert was St. Anthony, who came to visit him at the close of his life.

Do you know what made him holy? It was the fidelity with which he devoted himself to all that he had undertaken to do, when he first began to follow the vocation to which he had been called, without wasting his time about anything else.

Look, again, at those holy monks who lived under the charge of St. Pachomius; had they books, sermons? None. Conferences? They had them at times, but very rarely. Did they go often to confession? Sometimes, at the great feasts. Did they hear many Masses? On Sundays and Holydays, but none at any other times. But how was it, then, that partaking so sparingly of that spiritual food which nourishes our souls for immortality, they were still always in such good condition—that is to say, so strong and courageous in undertaking the pursuit of virtue, and in arriving at perfection and at the goal of their desires? And we, who are fed so abundantly, are yet so spare—that is, so languid and indolent—in pursuing our enterprise, and, if spiritual consolations fail us, seem to have neither courage nor vigour in the service of Our Lord! Well, we must imitate those holy monks, applying ourselves to our work—that is to say, to what God requires of us according to our vocation—fervently and humbly, thinking of nothing else, and feeling sure that there is no better way to be found of perfecting ourselves.

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