Thursday, February 9, 2017

Purifying the Soul

“...The ordinary purifying and healing (whether of the body or the mind) is only effected by little and little, by going on from one step to another, with time and pains.

The angels upon Jacob’s ladder have wings, yet they fly not, but ascend and descend in order, from step to step. The soul which rises from sin to devotion, is compared to the dawning of the morning, which drives not away the darkness in an instant, but by degrees. The slow cure, says the proverb, is the safe cure. The diseases of the soul, as well as those of the body, come post-haste on horseback, but go away on foot at a snail’s pace. Courage and patience then, O Philothea, are necessary in this enterprise. Alas! how much are those souls to be pitied, who, seeing themselves subject to many imperfections, after being a little exercised in devotion, begin to be troubled, disquieted, and discouraged, suffering their hearts almost to yield to the temptation to forsake all, and return back? But on the other hand, is it not also exceedingly dangerous for those, who, by a contrary temptation, make themselves believe that they are cleansed from their imperfections the first day of their purgation, and esteeming themselves perfect, though scarce as yet initiated, take upon them to fly without wings. O Philothea, in what danger are they of relapsing through being taken too soon out of the physician’s hands. ‘It is but lost labour to rise up early and late take rest,’ unless the Lord prosper all we do.

...let us not then afflict ourselves because we have imperfections, for our perfection consists in resisting them; and we cannot resist them without seeing them, nor vanquish them without encountering them. Our victory does not lie in not feeling them, but in not consenting to them. But to be disturbed by them is not to consent to them: nay, it is necessary, for the exercise of our humility, that we be sometimes wounded in this spiritual combat; but we are never conquered, except when we have lost either life or courage. Now imperfections or venial sins cannot deprive us of spiritual life, for that is not lost but by mortal sin. It only remains that they should not make us lose courage. ‘Deliver me, O Lord’ (said David) ‘from fear and faint-heartedness.’ It is a happy condition of this war, that if we fight valiantly we are always conquerors.”
~St. Francis de Sales

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