Fenelon On Spiritual Perfection

Francois Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambrai, makes these suggestions for living a spiritual life:

“Most people when they wish to reform, pay much more attention to filling their life with certain difficult and extraordinary actions, than to purifying their intention and opposing their natural inclinations in the ordinary duties of their state. In this they often deceive themselves, for it would be much better to make less change in the actions and more in the dispositions of the soul which prompt them. When one is already leading a virtuous and well regulated life it is of far greater consequence, in order to become truly spiritual, to change the interior than the exterior.”

“This will, perfectly simple and entirely devoted to God, you should bear with you into all the circumstances of your life, and everywhere that divine Providence leads you. . . . Even mere amusements may be transformed into good works, if you enter into them only through a kindly motive and to conform to the order of God.”

“When piety is founded on the fundamental principle of God’s holy will, without consulting our own taste, or temperament or the sallies of an excessive zeal, oh! how simple, sweet, amiable, discreet and reliable it is in all its movements! A pious person lives much as others do, quite unaffectedly and without apparent austerity, in a sociable and genial way; but with a constant subjection to every duty, an unrelenting renunciation of everything that does not enter into God’s designs in her regard, and, finally, with a clear view of God to whom she sacrifices all the irregular inclinations of nature. This indeed is the adoration in spirit and in truth desired by Jesus Christ, our Lord, and His eternal Father. Without it all the rest is but a religion of ceremonial, and rather the shadow than the reality of Christianity.”

Quotations from Carlo Giuseppe Quadrupani, Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1898).

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Sayings of Catholic saints and sages: spiritual food for meditation and reflection.
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