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Devotions, Angels, and Saints

6 min • Digitized on June 24, 2021

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 74
By St. Francis de Sales

Chapter XV.

Other public and common exercises of Devotion.

Besides hearing Mass on Sundays and holidays, you ought also, Philothea, to be present at vespers and other portions of the divine office, as far as your convenience will permit. For, as these days are dedicated to God, we ought to perform more acts to his honour and glory on them than on other days. By this means you shall feel a thousand spiritual consolations, as St. Augustin did, who testifies, in his Confessions, that, hearing the divine office in the beginning of his conversion, his heart melted into tenderness, and his eyes into tears of devotion.

And indeed, to speak once for all, there is always more benefit and comfort in the public offices of the Church than in private devotion, God having so ordained, that the communion of the faithful should be preferred to all kinds of devotion practised privately.

Enter, then, willingly into the confraternities of the place wherein you reside, and especially those whose exercises are most productive of fruit and edification, as in so doing you practise a sort of obedience acceptable to God; for, although these confraternities are not commanded, they are, nevertheless, recommended by the Church, which, to testify her approbation of them, grants indulgences and other privileges to such as enter them.

Besides, it is always very laudable to concur and co-operate with many in their good designs, for, although we might perform quite as good exercises alone as in the company of a confraternity, and perhaps take more pleasure in performing them in private, yet God is more glorified when we unite our good works with those of our brethren and neighbours.

I say the same of all public prayers and devotions, which we should countenance as much as possible by our good example, for the glory of God, for the edification of our neighbour, and for the common end which we propose to ourselves when we take part in them.

Chapter XVI

We must honour and invoke the Saints.

Since God often sends us inspirations by his angels, we ought also frequently to send back our inspirations to Him by similar messengers. The holy souls of the deceased, who dwell in heaven with the angels, and are, as our Saviour says (Luke, xv. 36), equal and like to the angels, perform also the same office of inspiring us, and interceding for us by their prayers. Let us then join our hearts with these heavenly spirits and happy souls; and as the young nightingales learn to sing in the company of the old ones, so, by the holy association we make with the saints, we shall learn to pray, and to sing the divine praises in a much better manner: “I will sing to Thee, O Lord,” says David, “in the sight of thy angels” (Ps. cxxxvii. 2).

Honour, reverence, love, and respect in a special manner the sacred and glorious Virgin Mary, as she was the Mother of our sovereign Lord, so is she consequently our Mother. Let us run, then, to her, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her bosom with perfect confidence, at all times and in all circumstances. Let us call upon this sweet Mother, let us invoke her motherly love; and, endeavouring to imitate her virtues, let us feel true filial affection for her.

Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for, without being seen, they are present with you. Have always a particular love and reverence for the Guardian Angels of the diocese wherein you dwell, and of the persons with whom you live, but especially your own. Address yourself often to them, bless God for having given them, and beg for their assistance in all your affairs, spiritual or temporal, that they may co-operate with your intentions.

The great Peter Faber, first priest, first preacher, and first professor of theology of the Holy Society of Jesus, and the companion of St. Ignatius, its founder, returning from Germany, where he had done great service for the glory of our Lord, and traveling through this diocese, the place of his birth, related, that having passed through many heretical places, he had received innumerable consolations from the Guardian Angels of the several parishes, of whose protection, on repeated occasions, he had received the most sensible and convincing proofs: sometimes by preserving him from the ambushes of heretics, at other times by rendering numerous souls more mild and tractable to receive from him the doctrine of salvation. This he related with so much earnestness, that a gentlewomen, then very young, who heard it from his own mouth, related it but a few years ago, that is to say, about threescore years after he had told it, with extraordinary feeling. I had the consolation last year to consecrate an altar on the spot where God was pleased that this blessed man should be born, in a little village called Villaret, amidst our most inaccessible mountains.

Choose some particular saint or saints whose lives you may most desire to imitate, and in whose intercession you may have great confidence. The saints whose names you bear are already assigned to you from your baptism.

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