Piety Governs Affections

Father Guibert states: “Neither the affection nor the faithfulness of the heart is assured, if God do not reign within it by piety.” Piety “not only expands, but at the same time rules and guards the heart. Having a heart is not at all the same thing as being given up to the caprice of sentimentalism; it is not to be without heart to withdraw it from pillage and corruption. The heart, indeed, is exposed to a double danger: it may be mistaken as to its object and go astray, or it may push its feeling to excess, and thus lose its fineness and equilibrium. It goes astray when it gets attached to things that were not made for it; in every situation, in marriage as in the cloister, there are illegitimate affections that must be banished—affections which would upset order in a heart or in a household. The heart is lost, if it allows itself to be taken by such deceitful bait. It becomes poisoned and destroys its own virtue, if, even in the most lawful affections, it urges its feelings to the point of febrile delirium.”

“No power has such influence as piety to keep the heart within the right limits, to preserve it from shame, to withhold it, if necessary, from the slough of the senses. Piety, then, acts by means of the religious thoughts that it suggests and by the graces that it obtains. ‘God sees me,’ then says the soul in which piety is alive. ‘I will not offend His eyes; He loves me, and I will not deal a mortal blow at my Father’s heart. He has made my soul His temple, and I will not defile the sanctuary in which He dwells. I have solemnly made Him the entire gift of my heart, and I will not break my word. And then, my heart is my very life; if I let my heart go I shall lose my life, and I shall scatter its strength, and bring to naught all that, in my zeal, I would attain to.’ Under the sway of such thoughts as these, and many others, the will grows stronger, prayer rises to the lips with intensity, and the help of God comes down; the heart is shielded from danger, perhaps kept from sin, and a life is saved.”

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

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