A Year with the Saints – 12 July


These continual reflections upon ourselves and our actions are of no use except to consume time, which would be better employed in doing, than in scrutinizing so carefully what has been done. For this constant watching as to whether we are doing well, often causes things to be done badly. Those souls which make reflections about trifles act like silkworms, which impede and imprison themselves in their own work. – Saint Francis de Sales

A nun having sent to this Saint an account of her interior, he wrote thus in answer: “Your path is excellent; I have only to say that you watch your steps too closely, through fear of falling. You make too many reflections upon the movements of your self-love, which doubtless are frequent, but which will never be dangerous, if, without being vexed at their importunity, or frightened at their numbers, you will say ‘No.’ Walk simply, do not desire so much spiritual rest. If you have not much, why do you disturb yourself so greatly? God is good. He sees what you are. Your inclinations can do you no harm, however bad they may be; for they are only left you to exercise your will in making a closer union with the will of God. Raise your spirit aloft with perfect confidence in the goodness of the Lord. Do not be troubled about Him, for He said to Martha that He did not wish it, or, at least, that He preferred she should not be troubled at all, not even in doing well. Do not examine your soul so much as to its progress. Do not wish to be too perfect, but go on smoothly. Let your ordinary exercises and the action you have to perform from day to day, make up your life. Do not take thought for the morrow. As to your course, God, who has guided it until now, will guide it to the end. Rest in perfect peace in the holy and loving confidence which you ought to have in the kindness of Divine Providence.”

A young monk, very desirous of perfection, set his heart upon purifying himself from every fault and therefore kept his eyes upon all his actions, looking at them again and again, before and after their performance and while they were going on – to do them well, and to see whether they had been well done. Therefore the more he sought to avoid faults, the more he committed them; and by guarding himself from slight defects, he fell into grave ones. In this way he only filled his soul with fear and disquiet, to very little advantage. Finally he went to an old and very spiritual monk to ask his advice. This holy man merely suggested to him gently those two counsels of the Holy Spirit: “Have a heart full of peace and confidence in God, and work tranquilly, without so many reflections, so you will accomplish your design.” He took this advice and began to follow it, and by this new method of proceeding he quickly regained peace and in a short time made progress in perfection.

MLA Citation