The Heart of St. Francis de Sales

In the following excerpts, St. Francis de Sales describes a vigorous, faithful, confident heart:

“I see you with your vigorous heart which loves and wills powerfully. I like it, for what are those half-dead hearts good for? We must make a particular exercise once every week of willing to love the will of God more tenderly, more affectionately than anything in the world, and that, too, not only in bearable but in the most unbearable events.”

“Do not think that our Lord is further from you in the midst of turmoil. . . . It is not tranquility which brings Him to our hearts, but the fidelity of our love.”

“Keep your hearts well under control, beware of over-anxiety. Place your confidence in the providence of our Lord. Be fully convinced that heaven and earth shall pass away rather than that our Lord shall fail to protect you while you are his obedient daughter, or, at least, desirous to obey Him.”

He advises: “I recommend simplicity to you; look before you, and not at the dangers which you behold in the distance. Keep your will firmly bent upon serving God with your whole heart. While you are thus occupied in forecasting the future you expose yourself to some false step.”

“Live wholly in our Lord, let Him be the atmosphere in which your heart breathes at ease.”

“Keep your heart brave and ready for any service that shall be imposed upon it; according as you undertake many things for God, He will second you and work with you.”

“Have the heart of a child; a will of wax, and a mind free from the slavery of all affection.”

“We must do everything through a motive of love, and nothing through compulsion. Our love for obedience must be greater than our fear of disobedience.”

“Go joyously and with a light heart as far as you can, and if you cannot always go joyously, go always courageously and confidently.”

The Saint then mentions the promise of a great consolation: “Plant in your heart Jesus Christ Crucified, and all the crosses of this world will seem to you like roses.”

Quotations from Maxims and Counsels of St. Francis de Sales, translated by Ella McMahon (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son, 1884).

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