"Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars."

Thomas á Kempis

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"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. "

Thomas á Kempis

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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 II. Containing sundry counsels as to uplifting the soul to God in prayer and the use of the Sacraments (cont).
 

17.How to Hear and Read God's Word.

 
Cultivate a special devotion to God's Word, whether studied privately or in public; always listen to it with attention and reverence, strive to profit by it, and do not let it fall to the ground, but receive it within your heart as a precious balm, thereby imitating the Blessed Virgin, who "kept all these sayings in her heart." (1) Remember that our Lord receives our words of prayer according to the way in which we receive His words in teaching.

You should always have some good devout book at hand, such as the writings of S. Bonaventura, Gerson, Denis the Carthusian, Blosius, Grenada, Stella, Arias, Pinella, Da Ponte, Avila, the Spiritual Combat, the Confessions of S. Augustine, S. Jerome's Epistles, or the like; and daily read some small portion attentively, as though you were reading letters sent by the Saints from Paradise to teach you the way thither, and encourage you to follow them.

Read the Lives of the Saints too, which are as a mirror to you of Christian life, and try to imitate their actions according to your circumstances; for although many things which the Saints did may not be practicable for those who live in the world, they may be followed more or less.

Thus, in our spiritual retreats we imitate the solitude of the first hermit, S. Paul; in the practice of poverty we imitate S. Francis, and so on. Of course some Lives throw much more light upon our daily course than others, such as the Life of Saint Theresa, which is most admirable, the first Jesuits, Saint Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, S. Louis, S. Bernard, S. Francis, and such like. Others are more the subjects of our admiring wonder than of imitation, such as S. Mary of Egypt, S. Simeon Stylites, S. Catherine of Genoa, and S. Catherine of Sienna, S. Angela, etc., although these should tend to kindle a great love of God in our hearts.

 
   
 
1. S. Luke ii. 51.