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 IV. Of The Decay And Ruin Of Charity.
Ch 5. That The Sole Cause Of The Decay And Cooling Of Charity Is In The Creature's Will.
As it would be an impious effrontery to attribute the works of holy love done by the Holy Ghost in and with us to the strength of our will, it would be a shameless impiety to lay the defect of love in ungrateful men, on the failure of heavenly assistance and grace.
For the Holy Ghost cries everywhere, on the contrary, that our ruin is from ourselves: Destruction is thine own, 0 Israel! thy help is only in me:(1) that Our Saviour brought the fire of love, and desires nothing but that it should be enkindled in our hearts:(2) that salvation is prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Israel:(3) that the divine goodness is not willing that any should perish,(4) but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth: and will have all men to be saved,(5) their Saviour being come into the world, that he might redeem them who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.(6)
And the wise man clearly warns us, Say not: it is through God that she (wisdom) is not with me.(7) And the sacred Council of Trent divinely inculcates upon all the children of holy Church, that the Grace of God is never wanting to such as do what they can, invoking the divine assistance; that God never abandons such as he has once justified unless they abandon him first; so that, if they be not wanting to grace they shall obtain glory.
In fine, Theotimus, Our Saviour is the true light which enligteneth every man that cometh into this world.(8) Some travellers, one summer's day about noontide, lay down to repose under the shade of a tree, but while their weariness and the coolness of the shadow kept them asleep, the sun advancing on them threw just upon their eyes his strongest light, which by its glittering brightness gave glimpses of itself like little flashes of lightning about the pupils of these sleepers' eyes, and by the heat which pierced their eyelids, forced them by a gentle violence to awake.
Some of them being awakened get up, and making way get happily to their lodging, the rest not only do not rise, but turning their backs to the sun and pressing their hats over their eyes, spend their day there in sleeping, till surprised by night and yet being desirous to make towards their lodging, they stray, one here, one there, in the forest, at the mercy of wolves, wild-boars, and other savage beasts.
Now tell me, I pray, Theotimus, those that
arrived, ought they not to give all their thanks for
their good success to the sun, or to speak like a
Christian, to the sun's Creator? Yes surely; for they
thought not of waking when it was time: the sun did
them this good office, and by the gentle invitation
of his light and heat came lovingly to call them up.
'Tis true they resisted not his call, but he also
helped them much even in that; for he spread his
light fairly upon them, giving them a half-sight of
himself through their eyelids, and by his heat as it
were by his love he unsealed their eyes, and urged
them to see his day.
For who would not undertake the sun's or rather God's cause, my dear Theotimus, to answer these wretches. What is there, miserable beings, that the sun could really do for you and did not? His favours were equal to all ye that slept: he approached you all with the same light, touched you with the same rays, spread over you a like heat, but unhappy ye, although you saw your risen companions take their pilgrim's staff to gain way, ye turned your backs to the sun and would not make use of his light, nor be conquered by his heat.
Now, Theotimus, see here what I would say. We are all pilgrims in this mortal life; almost all of us have voluntarily slept in sin; God the sun of justice darts upon us most sufficiently, yea abundantly, the beams of his inspirations, warms our hearts with his benedictions, touching every one with the allurements of his love.
Ah! how comes it then that these allurements allure so few and draw yet fewer? Ah! certainly such as, first allured, afterwards drawn, follow the inspiration, have great occasion to rejoice, but not to glorify themselves for it. Let them rejoice because they enjoy a great good; yet let them not glorify themselves therein, because it is by God's pure goodness, who, leaving them the profit of their good works, reserves to himself the glory of them.
But concerning them that remain in the sleep of sin: Oh! what good reason they have to lament, groan, weep, and say: woe the day! for they are in the most lamentable of cases; yet have they no reason to grieve or complain, save about themselves, who despised, yea rebelled against, the light; who were untractable to invitations, and obstinate against inspirations; so that it is their own malice alone they must ever curse and reproach, since they themselves are the sole authors of their ruin, the sole workers of their damnation.
So the Japanese, complaining to the Blessed Francis Xavier, their Apostle, that God who had had so much care of other nations, seemed to have forgotten their predecessors, not having given them the knowledge of himself, for want of which they must have been lost: the man of God answered them that the divine natural law was engraven in the hearts of all mortals, and that if their forerunners had observed it, the light of heaven would without doubt have illuminated them, as, on the contrary, having violated it, they deserved damnation.
An apostolic answer of an apostolic man, and
resembling the reason given by the great Apostle of
the loss of the ancient Gentiles, whom he calls
inexcusable, for that having known good they followed
evil; for it is in a word that which he inculcates in
the first chapter of his epistle to the Romans.
Misery upon misery to those who do not acknowledge
that their misery comes from their malice!