"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "

Thomas á Kempis

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"Obedience is a short cut to perfection."

St Philip Neri

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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."

St Philip Neri

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St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) -  Bishop and Doctor of the Universal Church

 

INTRODUCTION TO A DEVOUT LIFE (cont)

 

by St Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church

PART V. Containing counsels and practices for renewing and confirming the soul in devotion (cont)
 

5. Examination of your Condition as regards yourself.

 
1. How do you love yourself? Is it a love which concerns this life chiefly? If so, you will desire to abide here for ever, and you will diligently seek your worldly establishment,--but if the love you bear yourself has a heavenward tendency, you will long, or, at all events you will be ready to go hence whensoever it may please our Lord.

2. Is your love of yourself well regulated? for nothing is more ruinous than an inordinate love of self. A well-regulated love implies greater care for the soul than for the body; more eagerness in seeking after holiness than aught else; a greater value for heavenly glory than for any mean earthly honour. A well regulated heart much oftener asks itself, "What will the angels say if I follow this or that line of conduct?" than what will men say.

3. What manner of love do you bear to your own heart? Are you willing to minister to it in its maladies? for indeed you are bound to succour it, and seek help for it when harassed by passion, and to leave all else till that is done.

4. What do you imagine yourself worth in God's Sight? Nothing, doubtless, nor is there any great humility in the fly which confesses it is nought, as compared with a mountain, or a drop of water, which knows itself to be nothing compared with the sea, or a cornflower, or a spark, as compared with the sun. But humility consists in not esteeming ourselves above other men, and in not seeking to be esteemed above them. How is it with you in this respect?

5. In speech--do you never boast in any way? Do you never indulge in self-flattery when speaking of yourself?

6. In deed--do you indulge in anything prejudicial to your health,--I mean useless idle pleasures, unprofitable night-watches, and the like?