Sports, balls, plays, festivities, pomps, are not in themselves
evil, but rather indifferent matters, capable of being used for
good or ill; but nevertheless they are dangerous, and it is still
more dangerous to take great delight in them.
Therefore, my daughter, I say that although it is lawful to
amuse yourself, to dance, dress, feast, and see seemly plays,--at
the same time, if you are much addicted to these things, they will
hinder your devotion, and become extremely hurtful and dangerous
The harm lies, not in doing them, but in the degree to which
you care for them.
It is a pity to sow the seed of vain and foolish tastes in the
soil of your heart, taking up the place of better things, and
hindering the soul from cultivating good dispositions. It was thus
that the Nazarites of old abstained not merely from all
intoxicating liquors, but from grapes fresh or dried, and from
vinegar, not because these were intoxicating, but because they
might excite the desire for fermented liquors.
Just so, while I do not forbid the use of these dangerous
pleasures, I say that you cannot take an excessive delight in them
without their telling upon your devotion. When the stag has waxed
fat he hides himself amid the thicket, conscious that his
fleetness is impaired should he be in need to fly: and so the
human heart which is cumbered with useless, superfluous, dangerous
clingings becomes incapacitated for that earnest following after
God which is the true life of devotion.
No one blames children for running after butterflies, because
they are children, but is it not ridiculous and pitiful to see
full-grown men eager about such worthless trifles as the worldly
amusements before named, which are likely to throw them off their
balance and disturb their spiritual life?
Therefore, dear child, I would have you cleanse your heart from
all such tastes, remembering that while the acts themselves are
not necessarily incompatible with a devout life, all delight in
them must be harmful.