Striving for Spiritual Perfection

Here are a few thoughts from St. Francis de Sales for those who are striving for spiritual perfection:

“Make a general and universal resolution to serve God in the best manner you are able and do not waste time in examining and sifting so minutely to find out what that may be. This is simply an impertinence due to the condition of your acute and precise mind which wishes to tyrannize over your will and to control it by fraud and subtlety.”

“You know that in general God wishes us to serve Him by loving Him above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of Him; and in particular, to fulfil the duties of our state of life; that is all. But it must be done in good faith, without deceit or subterfuge, and in the ordinary way of this world, which is not the home of perfection; humanly, too, and according to the limitations of time; to do it in a divine and angelic manner and according to eternity being reserved for a future life. Do not therefore be so anxious to know whether or not you have attained perfection.”

“Our self-examination must never be for the purpose of discovering if we are imperfect, for this we should never doubt. Hence it follows that we must not be surprised at seeing ourselves imperfect, since we can never be otherwise in this life; nor on that account give way to despondency, for there is no remedy for it. But, yes; we can correct our faults gently and gradually, for that is the reason they are left in us. We shall be inexcusable if we do not try to amend them, but quite excusable if we are not entirely successful in doing so.”

“Act like the little child who, when it feels that its mother is holding it by the sleeve, runs about quite boldly and without being surprised at all the little falls it gets. Thus, as long as you find that God is holding you by the good will and the resolution He has given you to serve Him, go on bravely and do not be astonished that you stumble and fall occasionally. There is no need to be troubled about it, provided that at certain intervals you cast yourself into your Father’s arms and embrace Him with the kiss of charity. Go on your way, then, cheerfully and heartily, doing the best you can; and if it cannot always be cheerfully, let it at least be always courageously and faithfully.”

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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