St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Catholic belief, prayers and spiritual teaching
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
|TREATISE ON THE LOVE OF GOD|
By St Francis de Sales
Book I. Containing A Preparation For The Whole Treatise.
Ch 2. How the will variously governs the powers of the soul.
Now the will governs the faculty of our exterior motion as a serf or slave: for unless some external thing hinder, it never fails to obey. We open and shut our mouth, move our tongue, our hands, feet, eyes, and all the members to which the power of this movement refers without resistance, according to our wish and will.
But as for our senses and the faculties of nourishing, growing, and producing, we cannot with the same ease govern them, but we must employ industry and art. If a slave be called he comes, if he be told to stop, he stops; but we must not expect this obedience from a sparrowhawk or falcon: he that desires it should return to the hand must show it the lure; if he would keep it quiet he must hood it. We bid our servant turn to the right or left hand and he does it, but to make a horse so turn we must make use of the bridle.
We must not, Theotimus, command our eyes not to see, our ears not to hear, our hands not to touch, our stomach not to digest, or our body not to grow, for these faculties not having intelligence are not capable of obedience. No one can add a cubit to his stature. We often eat without nourishing ourselves or growing; he that will prevail with these powers must use industry.
A physician who has to do with a child in the cradle commands him nothing, but only gives orders to the nurse to do such and such things, or else perchance he prescribes for the nurse to eat this or that meat, to take such and such medicine. This infuses its qualities into the milk which enters the child's body, and the physician accomplishes his will in this little weakling who has not even the power to think of it.
We must not give the orders of abstinence,
sobriety or continency unto the palate or stomach,
but the hands must be commanded only to furnish to
the mouth meat and drink in such and such a measure,
we take away from or give our faculties their object
and subject, and the food which strengthens them, as
reason requires. If we desire our eyes not to see we
must turn them away, or cover them with their natural
hood, and shut them, and by these means we may bring
them to the point which the will desires. It would be
folly to command a horse not to wax fat, not to grow,
not to kick, -- to effect all this, stop his corn;
you must not command him, you must simply make him do
as you wish.
It is true she cannot manage or range them so
absolutely as she does the hands, feet or tongue, on
account of the sensitive faculties, especially the
fancy, which do not obey the will with a prompt and
infallible obedience, and which are necessarily
required for the operations of the understanding and
memory: but yet the will moves, employs and applies
these faculties at her pleasure though not so firmly
and constantly that the light and variable fancy does
not often divert and distract them, so that as the
Apostle cries out: "I do not the good which I desire,
but the evil which I hate".(1) So we are often forced
to complain that we think not of the good which we
love, but the evil which we hate.