St. Francis de Sales -- Introduction to the Devout Life

 

Introduction to the devout Life

Jay's St. Francis de Sales Articles

Friends can be dangerous

St. Francis de Sales

October 10, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Friends are a good thing. People, after all, are social in nature. We rightly feel sorry for the person with no friends because he or she is trapped in a solitary existence. Friends are people who, by their very existence, call us out of ourselves. A good friend is one of life's richest blessings.

In that regard, it is shocking to read St. Francis de Sales' warning, "Friendship is the most dangerous of all types of love." One should not form any friendship except a spiritual friendship, he says.

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Poverty means losing freedom to do whatever you want

St. Francis de Sales

October 3, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Poverty is a virtue. So says St. Francis de Sales. "No man is ready ever to admit that he is avaricious. Everyone denies having so base and mean a heart."

OK. I won't admit that I'm avaricious. Those times I bought 6/49 tickets in the hope of launching into an early and comfortable retirement, it wasn't really me doing it. Actually, I had honourable motives. Gotta feed, clothe and educate those four kids, you know. A couple million bucks would help that project.

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Only the chaste person can truly love another

St. Francis de Sales

September 26, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Too often we regard chastity as a virtue that is mainly for the young. For it is in young people that sexual desires burn the hottest. As well, it is in unmarried girls and women that unchastity has the potential consequence of a pregnancy that leads many to either abortion or a life of poverty.

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The Strength of the meek

St. Francis de Sales

September 19, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

For the 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Christianity was synonymous with weakness. Christian morality, in Nietzsche's view, was insipid, replacing the power of the human will with an obedient cowering before God. For the human person to reach his or her full stature, God had to be destroyed and man had to assert himself.

Were Nietzsche to consider the Beatitude, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth," he would have found it to be laughable sentimentality. The meek will never control anything; they are pathetic victims.

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It's so hard to be humble

St. Francis de Sales

September 12, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Humility, said St. Francis de Sales, is such a powerful virtue that it "drives away Satan and keeps the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit safe within us."

This is a startling notion. When we need to drive out Satan, don't we normally turn to overtly religious sacramentals such as holy water and the sign of the cross? How could the exercise of a virtue, even one as important as humility, get rid of the devil?

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Practice of one simple virtue can lead to heights of holiness

St. Francis de Sales

September 5, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

As a Catholic editor, I have a responsibility to do my best to help our readers understand Church teachings and develop their spiritual lives. Nevertheless, in writing these reflections on St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life, at times I feel like a hypocrite.

In the articles published to date, I have described Francis’s presentation of how a devout person ought to pray and receive the sacraments. The regime Francis describes far outstrips my own practice, leaving me to encourage readers to do what I say, not what I do.

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Confession calls for us to shed light on the darkness within

St. Francis de Sales

August 29, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

In 1984, Pope John Paul II wrote, "The sacrament of Penance is in crisis." The World Synod of Bishops held the previous year was an attempt to respond to that crisis and, among other things, encourage a greater use of the sacrament.

Now, 27 years later, one might ask whether we have made our personal contribution to ending this crisis.

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The Eucharist: Dew from heaven

St. Francis de Sales

July 25, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

St. Francis de Sales recommends any person seeking to grow in the love of God receive Communion frequently. By "frequently," he means at least every second week, preferably every Sunday.

Frequent Communion, he says, will benefit you spiritually. "By adoring and eating beauty, purity and goodness itself in this divine sacrament, you will become wholly beautiful, wholly good and wholly pure."

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Pebble by pebble, you can build a mountain of prayer

St. Francis de Sales

July 18, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well. If it's going to be done well then it must be done often.

Take physical fitness, for example. To keep healthy and spry, it just won't suffice to go for a weekly one-hour walk. Strenuous activity needs to happen frequently, daily if possible, to maintain even a modicum of heart-lung fitness.

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Prayer is the sure pathway to walking in God's love

St. Francis de Sales

July 11, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Even in the time of St. Francis de Sales, 400 years ago, people felt they didn't know how to pray. Today, we live in the most secularized of all ages. It is easy to turn to things, not so easy to turn towards God. A million distractions beset us. Indeed, more than a secular age, ours might be characterized as a distracted age.

Still the human heart, yearning as it does for infinity, is tied to the earth. That is true in all epochs. So in his Introduction to the Devout Life, Francis not only wanted to encourage people to pray, he felt he must give them a method.

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