Do not scrutinize so closely (St. Francis de Sales)


#1

St. Francis de Sales is one of my favourite spiritual authors and his “Introduction to The Devout Life” written specifically for lay people is a true gem.

Introduction to the Devout Life
Treatise on the Love of God
This landed in my email inbox and it really spoke to me :-

Do not scrutinize so closely whether you are doing much or little, ill or well, so long as what you do is not sinful and that you are heartily seeking to do everything for God. Try as far as you can to do everything well, but when it is done, do not think about it. Try, rather, to think of what is to be done next. Go on simply in the Lord’s way, and do not torment yourself. We ought to hate our faults, but with a quiet, calm hatred; not pettishly and anxiously. *- St. Francis de Sales *


#2

Thanks for sharing advice from a very holy Saint. I am always tempted to become anxiety ridden about how well I am progressing in the spiritual life, and its comforting to hear such words from a man so very devout.


#3

Thanks Barbara!

I’m not familiar with St Francis De Sales, but your post has given me interest.

Jim


#4

Definitely worth the read Jim!

Thanks Barb. That took me down memory lane a bit to a time when we spent more than a few words discussing that book.

How holy can they guy be though if he thinks we shouldn’t beat ourselves up every time we make a mistake? :rolleyes:

Peace to you Barb,


#5

Barbara thanks so much for sharing this :thumbsup: Just what I needed to hear tonight :thumbsup:


#6

Thanks all! I love those words at the Introductory to The Divine Office “every day keep encouraging one another”.:thumbsup: Let us praise The Lord rather…Deo Gratius!
I really like St. Francis de Sales as he does not present an exacting spirituality…but a gentle, though fervent one, and I think must have been familiar with de Caussade’s “Abandonment to Divine Providence” also a spiritual author of a gentle yet entirely ardent and fervent spirituality and one that leads to Unity in humility and peace of heart, mind and soul. Bro. Lawrence’s “Practise of the Presence of God” is also another in the same type of spirituality.

Do not scrutinize so closely whether you are doing much or little, ill or well, so long as what you do is not sinful and that you are heartily seeking to do everything for God. Try as far as you can to do everything well, but when it is done, do not think about it. Try, rather, to think of what is to be done next. Go on simply in the Lord’s way, and do not torment yourself. We ought to hate our faults, but with a quiet, calm hatred; not pettishly and anxiously. *- St. Francis de Sales *

I chose to put the above words into a thread of its own rather than into “Thought for Today” which I add to as items come up, as it is something I had dreadful problems with for along time, felt it could be perhaps applicable to some or many and deserved its own thread to highlight it…In my problematic times nothing was good enough nor perfect enough and I fretted and became very anxious and this led to scruples…and a dreadful trial even if self inflicted. It took me years to get over it and they were cruel years and scruples are a cruel trial. And in fact was miraculously cured in Confession…after writing every single sin and fault I could think of over my whole life…pages and pages of them, as Father quite patiently listened. Just as I was about to leave the Confessional after absolution and at the end of his little “exhortation” he said “Be happy”…at that very instant scruples vanished. I new at that very moment that something had left me…this was the physical sensation I had. A load had gone.
The above quotation is presupposing, or leading to - asking, that we accept ourselves as not at all perfect and sinners but without putting the emphasis on it - rather on The Lord always…and this is an exercise in humility and interior Peace so necessary for contemplation and contemplative living.
I have come to the conclusion that to fret and worry ourselves about our failings, faults and our sins is really quite an insult to The Lord and his Love of us and Eternal Mercy. As is to fret and worry about adverse things that happen. Yet if I find myself doing so, I accept my Obsessive/Compulsion disposition which leads to needless worries and anxietes often and as an imperfection but with eyes and investment in the Lord and His Loving Mercy…it is just a little cross to bear and most times nowadays I remember to thank and praise God for the cross. Be that as it may, my many failures are dismal failures. St. Therese said it all “All is Grace” and St. Teresa of Avila said something else in the same vein “Make a virtue of necessity”.

Blessings and with my regards…Barb:)


#7

Howdy John…as always, great to catch up with on these Boards. Yeah, I go down that very same memory lane now and then!:thumbsup: …they were times that we spoke with total honesty and openness, huh?..and without some ‘purist catholic letter of the law maniac’ coming down on us like the proverbial ton of bricks, but it does really feel like that huh? John, if I beat myself up everytime I put a foot wrong, failed, invested culpably in a multitude of faults…I think I would have been beaten to death long ago! St. Francis de Sales was the very first author to introduce me to a different type of spirituality to what I had been reading about and indeed trying with great desperation and many self beatings to follow, and began me scratching my head about the whole business of spirituality. This lead me to many ponderings and finally personal conclusions and this was a huge relief…and then returning to him, then discovering “Abandonment to Divine Providence” by de Caussade and then “Practise of The Presence of God” it was distinct affirmation for me that I was overwhelmingly grateful for.
I entered a Convent in my teens and my mandatory spiritual reading even at private prayer time was “The Imitation of Christ”…truly, John, it scared me silly and began the road to scruples. At prayer time, I would be reading the jolly book as ordered and every so often make a quick apology to The Lord for being so rude as to read in His Presence and so scared was I, I used to feel guilty about those quick moments. The other really funny thing for poor troubled me then, was that I had been told if in reading something struck me, to stop and think about it. So as I read along, I would get into quandry as to whether something had struck me or not! I can truly laugh about my convent and later monastic experiences now, but at the time I was really going through Hell I think…a Hell of confusion.

Does the quotation I gave remind you of that wonderful insight of Thomas Merton’s…that our desires are sufficient. I thought of dear Tom the moment I read it as it landed in my Inbox. And this is theologically correct for only God can grant success…success is not within our means whatsoever. Hence when it comes along in either the very small or very great (success I mean) it is time to go on our knees in thankfulness and praise. I really love that line in the Divine Office “Oh Lord grant success to the work of our hands, oh Lord, please grant us success”…and of course this prayer is not restricted to the works of our hands alone…rather to all our works and strivings.


#8

Happy reading, Jim! I hope St. Francis and his spiritual theology will really speak to you and your personal spirituality…Blessings and my regards…Barb:)


#9

Hi Kenneth…Peace is a great and necessary criteria of The Spiritual Life “seek after Peace and hold to it”. Jesus said “My Peace I give to you” - not shall give, or will give - but give!!! If peace is not in our souls and The Lord’s guaranteed gift to us, then something is amiss in our spiritual lives and we need then to enter the journey to refind our peace and to protect it always and diligently as the most precious of jewels of sprituality…peace of heart mind and soul is necessary for contemplative prayer and living. Peace in our hearts, minds and souls is what I call the fertile necessary soil of The Holy Spirit - from Peace will flow many virtues and sensitivity to The Holy Spirit.
I would really recommend St. Francis de Sales and his “Introduction to The Devout Life”…then “Practise of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence, then St. Francis and his “Treatise on The Love of God” and after that and the cream on the cake “Abandonment to Divine Providence” - each of these works reflect the same ‘genre of spirituality’. Oh dear, and how could I forget the master sin que non (without equal) of this particular ‘genre of sprituality’ - St. Therese of Lisieux and her “Little Way” spelt out in her autobiography"Story of a Soul". Here are some links for you/any other reader of this post.
Introduction to the Devout Life - Francis de Sales
Treatise on the Love of God - Francis de Sales
Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life - Brother Lawrence
Abandonment to Divine Providence Jean Pierre de Caussade
Story of a Soul (l’Histoire d’une Ame): The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

John 14
*

26 But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things

, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you. 27* Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.* *

Psalm 33
*

*2 I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall be always in my mouth. 3 In the Lord shall my soul be praised: let the meek hear and rejoice. 4 O magnify the Lord with me; and let us extol his name together. 5 I sought the Lord, and he heard me; and he delivered me from all my troubles. *

*6 Come ye to him and be enlightened: and your faces shall not be confounded. 7 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him: and saved him out of all his troubles. 8 The angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear him: and shall deliver them. 9 O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in him. 10 Fear the Lord, all ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. *
*11 The rich have wanted, and have suffered hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good. 12 Come, children, hearken to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 13 Who is the man that desireth life: who loveth to see good days? 14 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

[quote]15 Turn away from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it.

[/quote]

  • *16 The eyes of the Lord are upon the just: and his ears unto their prayers. 17 But the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil things: to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 18 The just cried, and the Lord heard them: and delivered them out of all their troubles. 19 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart: and he will save the humble of spirit. 20 Many are the afflictions of the just; but out of them all will the Lord deliver them. *

#10

Hi again CN…good to be talking with you again too in these Forums. The Holy Spirit can move in very strange ways…and is entirely and totally humble and self efacing…not at all choosey or snobbish, not the slightest bit selective, about whom He may speak through! Obviously if the quote was what you needed to hear and I posted it, then The Holy Spirit acted that you should hear it from Him and through his very most least. Deo Gratius! Let us praise and thank The Lord. Alleluia Amen!
I have a plaque here in Bethany from St. Timothy “The Lord came to save sinners, of whom I am the chief” and I have written under it “sorry to disappoint you, Tim, you have been overtaken”.:thumbsup:


#11

I totally agree with you on that one Barb. IOC is a worthy book in its own way but to me it was far too focused on the negative. There are some beautiful chapters in it that I still refer to on occasion but overall I find it demoralizing. That being said, I recognize that there are others, who follow a different spiritual path, who will find a way to holiness in it, and for that I am thankful. God has lots of lures in His tackle box and will speak to each as they need to hear, if they are willing to listen.

Does the quotation I gave remind you of that wonderful insight of Thomas Merton’s…that our desires are sufficient.

Absolutely Barb, and that is one I quoted myself again just recently. It may be the prayer that gives me the greatest comfort of all, knowing that as long as I truly desire to follow Him He will do the hard work and bring me along. The whole “Footprints” idea that in our hardest times it is He who is carrying us.

I fear there are far too many who are still trying to live by the Law and then “hiding” from God in their shame at being unable to do so. The very opposite of what He calls us to for it is us sinners that He most longs to dine with.


#12

Quoting John:

I totally agree with you on that one Barb. IOC is a worthy book in its own way but to me it was far too focused on the negative. There are some beautiful chapters in it that I still refer to on occasion but overall I find it demoralizing. That being said, I recognize that there are others, who follow a different spiritual path, who will find a way to holiness in it, and for that I am thankful. God has lots of lures in His tackle box and will speak to each as they need to hear, if they are willing to listen.

Great insight, John, and you are completely correct that we are all called differently and that what appeals to me may not appeal to another, what works for me may not to another…I often totally forget this! Creation - all of it - is truly a dance of endless colour and diversity forming a unity that is nature.
Unity in Diversity and Diversity in Unity…I often forget that too.

Absolutely Barb, and that is one I quoted myself again just recently. It may be the prayer that gives me the greatest comfort of all, knowing that as long as I truly desire to follow Him He will do the hard work and bring me along. The whole “Footprints” idea that in our hardest times it is He who is carrying us.

For me personally (I thought I better put that in in view of my previous statement:D :smiley: :smiley: ) St. Therese of Lisieux was the absolute master of the Spirituality of Ardent Desires…in fact, she has been called “The Saint of Ardent Desires” and then there is that beautiful statement (the author I do not recall). “To be a saint, will it”. That “footprints” poster has done so much good in this world I think…given a lot of people who struggle hope and encouragement.

I fear there are far too many who are still trying to live by the Law and then “hiding” from God in their shame at being unable to do so. The very opposite of what He calls us to for it is us sinners that He most longs to dine with.

All The Law can do is point to us that we are sinners and cannot keep it. The Law identifies for us our poverty and status for we cannot keep it perfectly - rather Jesus who can and is The Perfect One justifies us under The Law through our unity to Him in Grace. He is our justification under The Law. Does this excuse us from The Law - no it does not…but as servants of God’s Law we are always and everywhere and in all things found wanting and lacking. One person in keeping this Law, is infringing another Law. This is why taking a quote out of the context of The Whole of Scripture seems to contradict another Scripture quote. Under The Law we are forever remiss and offending.

The very opposite of what He calls us to for it is us sinners that He most longs to dine with.

Really beautiful and spot on in insight!:thumbsup:

Good to catch up with you again, Barnabas (Son of Consolation)…I learnt this definition from Joysong! We should call you Brother Barnabas!!!:thumbsup: …cacha on the rounds, John…Barb:)


#13

I was just watching Jeopardy and there was a great quote from Heinrich Heine that was one of the clues. I didn’t catch the entire quote but the tag line was:

God will forgive me; it’s His job.

I kind of found that an interesting way of expressing the same kind of idea we’re discussing here, and that I did in my thread about making us clean because He wills it.


#14

Hi John…can you give a link to your thread. I have been spending far too much time on CAF just lately…I needed to deal with stress and writing is the way I usually do - but I have been far too long winded in these Forums lately and far more than usual. Now I am into “addicted to CAF” mode and need the break the habit:o

God will forgive me; it’s His job.

Has much truth in it, without getting ridiculous and presumptious of course. Nothing is beyond God’s Mercy thank goodness, Alleluia Amen. I wish I could grasp just how much I am loved, we are loved. My head tells me it is an awesome matter, but emotionally and in the heart I just cannot grasp it. I can see, as it were, God’s Love and Mercy shining overwhelmingly and stunningly on others, just not on myself - though I believe it does.

my thread about making us clean because He wills it./

Heaps of quotes, huh John, in Scripture that The Lord desires not one soul to be lost…and no matter what I do, no matter how grevious - if I am truly sorry, then God will forgive and has guaranteed us this. Sometimes when I do or have sinned - at that actual time what I am actually doing does not quite hit home, but not in a way that reduces culpability and fault…rather it is after the act that the reality hits me with regret and sorrow.

Good to catch up with you again, John…sail safe…Peace and regards…Barb:)


#15

It was this thread, Barb. forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=249711
You and I actually did exchange a couple posts there though it was a fairly short-lived thread.

I too hope I never become presumptuous, but it is indeed an incredible grace that we are always forgiven when we ask in sincerity.

I know what you mean about CAF addiction Barb. I’ve certainly had my periods, though that has not been an issue lately.

Peace to you,


#16

It was this thread, Barb. forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=249711
You and I actually did exchange a couple posts there though it was a fairly short-lived thread.

Thanks John. I’ll have a read later. Do forgive me, John, in not recalling the thread…my memory has never been good but over the last few months it has been almost unbelievably bad and almost to me short term memory loss often. I have spoken to my doctor about it as I really did get concerned, but he says it is simply result of long term psychiatric medications over 30 years or more…plus my age - now 63yrs. My money is on that he is correct.

I too hope I never become presumptuous, but it is indeed an incredible grace that we are always forgiven when we ask in sincerity.

Alleluia Amen! I have always thought of presumption as being, for myself, one of the easier sins for me to understand. One clearly MUST commit a sin quite freely and deliberately with a clear attitude of “Not to worry, God will forgive me” hence the attitude is - sin away to absolute abandon because God will forgive. When you think of it it is an appalling attitude…sort of like being invited to someone’s place for lunch and ever after showing up for lunch and then breakfast and tea as well and then asking “where is my bedroom” and here are the my bills for payment for this month and then buying a new car and presenting the person with the bill and then a house and doing the same…not a good example John:o

I know what you mean about CAF addiction Barb. I’ve certainly had my periods, though that has not been an issue lately.

It has happened to me now and then…and I think probably I have an addictive nature i.e. easily addicted. And I find it so jolly hard just to get up and walk away from the comptuer…and if I can then I am continually fighting a real urge to sit down at it again. But not impossible to break - just consistent effort asked for a short period and then it is all over.

Cacha later…Peace…Barb:)


#17

Hi again John…I did catch up with the thread you gave. Thank goodness after a period of stress and with my mind at 100mph and on various subjects (a peculiarity of Bipolar at times), I have reached overload point and I just cannot think almost at all. The mind has just said, ok had enough…Goodnight! It can cause embarrassment …rang someone today and she was absolutely incredulous in ‘tone of voice’ anyway that I could not recall yesterday…and I completely understand her incredulity. C’est la vie…and on we go…
I think I will be able to break the computer addiction too…as the stress is alleviated and the mind slows down, interest in the computer wanes and is aroused in other areas around Bethany here - house and garden. …and I am sure those whose post I answer will be relieved too and not burdened with long all over the place replies.
As St. Francis de Sales advise, don’t scrutinize too closely and I have these peculiarities either of just me or my brand of Bipolar and have learnt thank goodness most often to conclude whatever may need a conclusion and just move on without too much dissecting and pondering of immediate past at all.

Blessings John and Peace…and with my regards…Barb:)


#18

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