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How to endure various sufferings for love of God

3 min • Digitized on February 15, 2022

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 175
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley


One of Blessed Francis’ most frequent sayings was: He who complains, seldom does so without sinning.

Now, you are anxious to know what exactly he meant by this, and if it is not allowable to complain to superiors of wrongs which have been done us, and when we are ill, to seek relief from suffering, by describing our pains to the physician, so that he may apply to them the proper remedies.

To put this interpretation on the words of Blessed Francis is to overstrain their meaning. The letter killeth, and needs to be interpreted by the spirit that quickeneth, that is, to be taken gently and sweetly.

Our Blessed Father condemns complaining when it borders upon murmuring. He used to say that those who thus complained sinned, because our self-love always magnifies unduly any wrongs done to ourselves, weighing them in the most deceitful of balances, and applying the most extravagant epithets to things which if done by us to others we should pass over as not worth a thought.

He did not consider it at all wrong to claim from a court of justice, quietly, calmly, and dispassionately, reparation of injuries done to our property, person, or honour. He has, indeed, devoted a whole chapter in his Philothea to demonstrating that we may, without failing in humility or charity, do what is necessary for the preservation of our good name. But human weakness is such that it is difficult even in a court of justice to keep our temper and retain a proper equanimity: hence the proverb that, in a hundredweight of law, there is not so much as an ounce of good nature.

It was also his wish that when sick we should state what ails us quite simply and straightforwardly to those who can relieve us, always remembering that God commands us to honour the physician. [Eccles. xxxviii. 1, 12.]

To Philothea he says:

When you are ill offer your sufferings, pains, and weakness to the service of our Lord, and entreat Him to unite them to the torments which He endured for you. Obey the physician; take medicine, food, and other remedies for the love of God; remembering the gall which He accepted for love of you. Desire to recover your health that you may serve Him, but, if He so will, do not refuse to linger long upon your bed of pain, so as to obey Him; in fine, be ready to die if that is His pleasure, that you may praise and enjoy Him.

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