If you would dance or play rightly, it must be done as a
recreation, not as a pursuit, for a brief space of time, not so as
make you unfit for other things, and even then but seldom. If it
is a constant habit, recreation turns into occupation.
You will ask when it is right to dance or play? The occasions
on which it is right to play at questionable games are rare;
ordinary games and dances may be indulged in more frequently. But
let your rule be to do so chiefly when courteous consideration for
others among whom you are thrown requires it, subject to prudence
and discretion; for consideration towards others often sanctions
things indifferent or dangerous, and turns them to good, taking
away what is evil. Thus certain games of chance, bad in
themselves, cease to be so to you, if you join in them merely out
of a due courtesy.
I have been much comforted by reading in the Life of S. Carlo
Borromeo, how he joined in certain things to please the Swiss,
concerning which ordinarily he was very strict; as also how S.
Ignatius Loyola, when asked to play, did so. As to S. Elizabeth of
Hungary, she both played and danced occasionally, when in society,
without thereby hindering her devotion, which was so firmly rooted
that, like the rocks of a mountain lake, it stood unmoved amid the
waves and storms of pomp and vanity which it encountered.
Great fires are fanned by the wind, but a little one is soon
extinguished if left without shelter.