Christian Sanctity

Here and in the next few posts, we shall read from The Consolation of the Devout Soul by Venerable Joseph Frassinetti (1804-1868), Prior of St. Sabina in Genoa and founder of the Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate. This English edition was translated by Georgiana Lady Chatterton (1806–1876) and bears an imprimatur from William Bernard Ullathorne, Bishop of Birmingham, England, dated 1876.

Father Frassinetti states that he wrote this book to dispel the error “that sanctity or Christian perfection is something excessively difficult to acquire.” He adds: “I wish this little book to suit all capacities, for God wills that all should be holy; and in every condition, every state of life, there are people to be found, I think, who are in need of some light—or, more correctly speaking, of some attention and reflection—on the facility of arriving at sanctification.”

What is Christian sanctity? Father Frassinetti answers: “All holy persons agree that Christian sanctity consists in charity—that is, in the fulfilment of the Divine Will; so that a soul which executes the Divine Will is a holy soul: and the better this is carried out the more holy is the soul. . . . Remember, then, O devout soul, in whatever state and condition you find yourself, that if you strive to follow the Will of God you are holy, and that the more you try to carry it out perfectly the more holy will you be.”

“But what is required, you will ask, to fulfil the Holy Will of God? I answer, nothing more and nothing less than the observance of the commandments of God’s law, and of the Church which commands us by Divine authority. If you fulfil well these commandments you accomplish the Holy Will of God, and by this you are holy.”

“We should distinguish two kinds of holiness. The first is simple sanctity, which consists in the possession of sanctifying grace; and this all souls possess that are pure from mortal sin. The second is sanctity perfected; and this consists in the perfect union of our will with the Will of God; so that the soul abhors not only mortal sin, but also deliberate venial sins, and is ready to execute that which we clearly know to be the most pleasing to God, even in things which are not expressly commanded.”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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