A Year with the Saints – 19 March


Every time that one sees himself urged on, with vehemence of affection, to any particular work, even though it be holy and important, he ought to put it off to another occasion, and not take it up again until his heart has recovered perfect tranquillity and indifference. This should be done to prevent self-love from sullying the purity of our intention. – Saint Vincent de Paul

The Saint who gives this advice practiced it faithfully himself. One day a business proposition was made to him that was very important for his Congregation. When he was urged by some of them to give his consent to it immediately, he answered: “I do not think we ought to pay attention to this matter at present, that we may blunt the natural inclination which leads us to pursue promptly what is to our own advantage, and also that we may practice holy indifference, and give time to God to manifest His will to us, while we continue offering our prayers to recommend the affair to Him.” Another time, when someone importuned him about a similar matter, his reply was this: “I desire always to keep up the practice of not deciding or undertaking anything while I find myself agitated by the hope and desire of something great.” Still another incident is even more admirable. As he saw, by experience, the great utility of missions, he embraced them with much fervor and earnestness. But when he perceived that his thoughts and ardent desires were gradually taking away the peace of heart he had hitherto enjoyed, he began to suspect that nature might have some part in them; therefore, he esteemed it necessary to interrupt this exercise for some time. The better to understand the movements of his heart, he retired for a few days of spiritual retreat, and perceiving in this that his great gladness and excessive solicitude were, in part, caused by self-love, he asked pardon of God with many tears, praying Him to change his heart and purify it from every inordinate affection, to the greater glory of His Divine Majesty. Afterwards, he found himself quite free from all anxiety and superfluous care, nor had he any other object than the Divine love; so that he was able to thank God that for thirty years he was not conscious of having done anything deliberately that was not directed to His greater glory.

Saint Francis de Sales once stopped in the course of a journey to visit Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, who had been eagerly expecting him, that she might confer with him about her own spiritual interests. She was the more desirous of doing this, because she had enjoyed no such opportunity for three years and a half, on account of the numerous occupations in which he was engaged. When they met, the holy prelate said: “We have a few hours free, Mother; which of us two shall be the first to speak?” “Myself,” she answered, with some haste, “for certainly my soul greatly needs to pass under your eye.” At this, the Saint, wishing to correct the anxiety she showed about speaking to him, with serious but gentle gravity rejoined: “Do you then still nourish desires, Mother? Have you yet a choice? I expected to find everything angelic. We will then put off speaking of you until we meet next, and for the present talk about the affairs of our Congregation.” The good and holy Mother, without a word of objection, laid aside all that related to herself, though she was holding in her hands a list of things she had wished to speak of; and for four successive hours they discussed the interests of the Institute, and then parted.

Saint Dorotheus, being sick and hearing raw eggs recommended as a remedy, after some time told his master of it, but, at the same time he asked him not to give them to him, because the thought of them was a distraction to him.

MLA Citation