Our earthly lives begin our journey from a fallen state of physical and moral imperfection to a glorified eternal life in union with God. St. Francis de Sales reflects on the work that this journey entails on our part, and the grace God offers us to accomplish that work.
“Every day we must feel that we begin our perfection; and if we bear this well in mind we will not be astonished at the miseries we find in ourselves. The work is never done, it must be always recommenced, and recommenced with a good heart.” And again: “What we are about to commence will be better than what we have done, and when we shall have accomplished that, we will recommence something else which shall be still better, and then something else, until we leave this world to begin another life, which will have no end, for nothing, nothing better can come to us.”
This is our prayer: “Lord, command my soul all that Thou wilt, and give me strength to obey. Thou hast begun in me the work of my perfection, and I can never doubt that thy goodness will achieve it, if I faithfully co-operate with Thee.”
“God’s great desire is that we should be perfect, to unite ourselves with Him by the perfect imitation of his sanctity. ‘Be you therefore perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.'”
“Choose the best virtues and not those which are most esteemed; the most excellent, and not the most apparent; the most solid, and not the most fanciful.”
“He who lives but for God frequently thinks of Him during all the occupations of life. . . . Then let us belong wholly to Him, and live but for Him, desiring only to please Him, and for his creatures in Him, through Him, and for Him. . . . Live Jesus!”
Quotations from Maxims and Counsels of St. Francis de Sales, trans. Ella McMahon (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son, 1884).