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How Modesty preserves the sweet perfume of our Virtues

2 min • Digitized on January 23, 2022

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 144
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley


Our Blessed Father, speaking of the virtue of modesty, and dilating upon one of its chief properties, namely, its extraordinary sensitiveness to the slightest injurious influence, made use of two beautiful comparisons:

However pure, transparent, and polished the surface of a mirror may be, the faintest breath is sufficient to make it so dull and misty that it is unable to reflect any image. So it is with the reputation of the virtuous. However high and well established it may be, according the words of wisdom: Oh! how beautiful is the chaste generation! [Wisdom iv. 1.] a thoughtless, unrestrained glance or gesture is quite sufficient to give occasion to a slanderous tongue to infect that reputation with the serpent’s venom, and to hide its lustre from the eyes of the world, as clouds hide the brightness of the sun.

Again, look at this beautiful lily. It is the symbol of purity; it preserves its whiteness and sweetness, amid all the blackness and ruggedness of the encircling thorns. As long as it remains untouched its perfume is delicious and its dazzling beauty of form and colour charms every passer-by; but, as soon as it is culled, the scent is so strong as to be overpowering, and should you touch the petals they lose their satin smoothness as well as all their pure and white loveliness.

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