St. Francis de Sales -- Introduction to the Devout Life

 

Introduction to the devout Life

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St. Francis de Sales – Introduction to the Devout Life

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Real devotion to Jesus is a major commitment

St. Francis de Sales

December 12, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Real devotion to Jesus Christ is a major commitment. So many people today say they are too busy, so busy that they don't have time for a life committed to Jesus.

Alternatively, some will say, "My work is my prayer." Well, work can be prayer, but only if it is rooted in special times of devotion. Your love for your wife or husband will not grow unless you make time to get off the treadmill and actually talk to her or him with complete attention. Why would our relationship with God be different?

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To fly like an eagle, you must keep flapping your wings

St. Francis de Sales

December 5, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Our reflections on St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life now enter the home stretch. The fifth and final part of the Introduction focuses appropriately on "Exercises and Instructions for Renewing the Soul and Confirming it in Devotion."

That is, we have spent the last 21 weeks learning the basics on loving God; how can we ensure that those lessons stay with us?

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Faith must keep its balance in good times and in bad

St. Francis de Sales

November 28, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Sometimes the little analogies from nature that St. Francis de Sales uses to illustrate our development in the spiritual life bear more resemblance to a Disney cartoon than to real life. For example:

 

"When caught out in the field by a storm little bees pick up small stones so that they can keep their balance in the air and not be easily carried away by the wind."

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A saint offers counsels for the battle against temptation

St. Francis de Sales

November 21, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Last week's article noted that even the strongest temptations cannot overwhelm a person's desire for the good. The fire of the good always burns.

However, in the face of strong temptation, it may not burn brightly. Temptation must be overcome. So how does one do that?

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Strongest temptations can't destroy desire for the good

St. Francis de Sales

November 14, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Perhaps no one in the history of the world has thought about the nature of reality with as much depth and as much breadth as did Aristotle.

Aristotle maintained, for example, that human moral decision-making was motivated not by a sense of obligation and even less by the "weighing" of the potential good and bad consequences of various alternative actions.

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Turn to a life of devotion and you will face criticism

St. Francis de Sales

November 7, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

One reward for a commitment to leading a virtuous life is criticism. As surely as night follows day, the person of devotion and virtue will be accused of hypocrisy and it will be suggested that they have turned to God out of weakness.

Of course, we are hypocrites. There is no one of perfect virtue save Jesus himself and his Blessed Mother.

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Marriages rooted in exploitation unlikely to grow and flourish

St. Francis de Sales

October 31, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Even 400 years ago, the business of Church weddings was a rocky one.

"Would to God that his well-beloved Son were invited to every marriage as he was to the marriage at Cana," wrote St. Francis de Sales, bishop, theologian and evangelizer. "Then the wine of his compassion and blessing would never be lacking to it.

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Our amusements are a serious business

St. Francis de Sales

October 24, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Some might wonder why St. Francis de Sales devotes attention to how one's recreation activities affect his or her spiritual life. Everyone needs recreation after all and, as long as one stays away from the most hideous forms of activity, one should have free rein in deciding how to spend one's free time. Right?

Francis is quick to agree that everyone needs recreation. "It is undoubtedly a defect," he writes in his Introduction to the Devout Life, "to be so strict, ill-bred, uncouth and austere as neither to take recreation ourselves nor to allow it to others." Every person needs to relax both mind and body.

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More sins committed with the tongue than with the fist

St. Francis de Sales

October 17, 2011
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

For the past 33 years, I have had the great privilege of being a print journalist. At almost every newspaper where I have worked, I've had the responsibility of writing editorials, columns or other opinion pieces.

This responsibility carries with it the opportunity of forming the public mind for good or evil. I still look back with sorrow on those occasions when I used that opportunity and my own gifts for stinging criticism of others.

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