Inner Peace

In order to attain the peace of spiritual tranquility, it is often necessary to pass through a bitter storm of tribulation. Here is what St. Francis de Sales has to say about this tempestuous journey:

“When I say that the heart is sweet and peaceful, I do not mean that it does not suffer and feel affliction. No, certainly, I do not say that; but I say that it meets sufferings, trials, and tribulations with such a strong will to bear them for God, that all its bitterness is full of peace and tranquillity.”

Here is his advice on how best to weather the storm: “When you meet with contradictions or afflictions through anyone, beware of yielding to complaints, but compel your heart to suffer tranquilly; if some sudden outburst of impatience escape you, bring your heart back to sweetness and peace.”

“Never lose your interior peace for anything, whatever it may be, even though everything be overturned about you; for what are all the things of this life compared to peace of heart?”

“We shall never possess perfect sweetness and complete charity, if they be not exercised in spite of repugnance, aversion, and disgust. True peace does not consist in not combating but in conquering.”

In order to be in control of oneself one must have the virtue of patience: “The effect of patience is to possess one’s soul, and, in proportion to our patience do we acquire complete and perfect possession of our soul.”

“Be patient with your trials; our Lord, alas! permits them that you may one day know what you are when left to yourself.”

“Do not limit your patience to certain trials, but extend it universally to all that God shall send you, or permit to reach you through any source.”

“Our soul needs but to firmly resign itself to its God, and to become indifferent to serving Him amid thorns or roses.”

It is easier for some people to be patient with others than with themselves. St. Francis counsels such ones to not be so hard on themselves: “We must always be at peace. Know that the virtue of patience is that which most assures us perfection; and if we are to be patient with others, we must be equally so with ourselves.” And again: “We must endure our own want of perfection, if we would attain perfection. I say that we must endure it patiently, but we must not love or caress it. It is by the endurance of this suffering that humility is nourished.”

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

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