What Promotes Piety

In the previous post, Father Guibert enumerated some things that hinder piety. Now he recommends a course of action to promote piety.

To the person with good desires, he says: “Begin by entering within yourself. Gather together your scattered powers, your mind, your heart, your imagination and your senses. . . . Your eyes will be veiled with a modesty and caution that will not allow them to be the open doors by which your soul was wont to run far away from you. Your ears, too, will be discreet, chaste, and closed to news from without; you will no longer make a foolish display of yourself in your clothes and speech, and you will be more anxious to be than to appear.”

“When you have been set free from things external, you will still have to escape slavery within. . . . The heart itself is a harder tyrant to them than all the external masters whose yoke they bear. . . . Have you not felt that your flesh is a capricious slave? Sometimes it is heavy and idle, sometimes, on the contrary, weak and incapable of effort. When well fed, it rebels; when too starved, it becomes refractory. When its ill-regulated appetites are awakened, what humiliations, what dangers, what anguish of conscience, what obsessions of the imagination!”

“The Saints have felt no less than you the interior conflicts between the manifold passions of humanity. St. Paul complains of them even with bitterness. ‘Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ (Rom 7:24) he asks. ‘My grace is sufficient for thee’ (2 Cor 12:9), was the answer, as if the Spirit of God had said to him: ‘Thou shalt not destroy it, but by My grace thou shalt bring it under thy rule.'”

“You will treat your flesh as a slave who is not to be flattered or maltreated; you will keep it in a proper equilibrium. . . . You will carefully avoid reading, sights, reveries and conversation, which might arouse it with terrible awakenings. . . . Jealousy will get no hold upon you, if you are large-hearted enough to thank God for the welfare of your brothers; sensitiveness will not lead you to fire up in anger, if kind-heartedness enables you to take the doings of others in good part; and, lastly, selfishness will be trampled underfoot, if you can forget yourself and not expect anything from anybody, and if you cultivate in yourself the desire to be of service.” Thus, you will advance in “the love and possession of God.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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