"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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"If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel."

Thomas á Kempis

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"Men should often renew their good resolutions, and not lose heart because they are tempted against them."

St Philip Neri

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St. Francis de Sales  (1567-1622)
 Bishop, Founder of the Visitation and Doctor of the Church


By St Francis de Sales

Book II. The History Of The Generation And Heavenly Birth Of Divine Love.

Ch 6. Of Certain Special Favours Exercised By The Divine Providence In The Redemption Of Man.

God indeed shows to admiration the incomprehensible riches of his power in this great variety of things which we see in nature, yet he makes the infinite treasures of his goodness still more magnificently appear in the incomparable variety of the goods which we acknowledge in grace. For, Theotimus, he was not content, in the holy excess of his mercy, with sending to his people, that is, to mankind, a general and universal redemption, by means whereof every one might be saved, but he has diversified it in so many ways, that while his liberality shines in all this variety, this variety reciprocally embellishes his liberality.

And thus he first of all destined for his most holy Mother a favour worthy of the love of a Son who, being all wise, all mighty, and all good, wished to prepare a mother to his liking; and therefore he willed his redemption to be applied to her after the manner of a preserving remedy, that the sin which was spreading from generation to generation should not reach her. She then was so excellently redeemed, that though when the time came, the torrent of original iniquity rushed to pour its unhappy waves over her conception, with as much impetuosity as it had done on that of the other daughters of Adam; yet when it reached there it passed not beyond, but stopped, as did anciently the Jordan in the time of Josue, and for the same respect: for this river held its stream in reverence for the passage of the Ark of Alliance; and original sin drew back its waters, revering and dreading the presence of the true Tabernacle of the eternal alliance.

In this way then God turned away all captivity from his glorious Mother, giving her the blessing of both the states of human nature; since she had the innocence which the first Adam had lost, and enjoyed in an excellent sort the redemption acquired for her. Whence as a garden of election which was to bring forth the fruit of life, she was made to flourish in all sorts of perfections; this son of eternal love having thus clothed his mother in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety,(1) that she might be the queen of his right hand, that is to say, the first of all the elect to enjoy the delights of God's right hand:(2) so that this sacred mother as being altogether reserved for her son, was by him redeemed not only from damnation but also from all peril of damnation, he giving her grace and the perfection of grace, so that she went like a lovely dawn, which, beginning to break, increases continually in brightness till perfect daylight.

Admirable redemption! master-piece of the redeemer! and first of all redemptions! by which the son with a truly filial heart preventing his mother with the blessings of sweetness, preserved her not only from sin as he did the angels, but also from all danger of sin and from everything that might divert or retard her in the exercise of holy love. And he protests that amongst all the reasonable creatures he has chosen, this mother is his one dove, his all perfect one, his all dear love, beyond all likeness and all comparison.

God also appointed other favours for a small number of rare creatures whom he would preserve from the peril of damnation, as is certain of S. John Baptist and very probable of Jeremias and some others, whom the Divine providence seized upon in their mother's womb, and thereupon established them in the perpetuity of his grace, that they might remain firm in his love, though subject to checks and venial sins, which are contrary to the perfection of love though not to love itself.

And these souls in comparison with others, are as queens, ever crowned with charity, holding the principal place in the love of their Saviour next to his mother, who is queen of queens, a queen crowned not only with love but with the perfection of love, yea, what is yet more, crowned with her own Son, the sovereign object of love, since children are the crown of their father and mother.

There are yet other souls whom God determined for a time to leave exposed to the danger, not of losing their salvation, but yet of losing his love; yea he permitted them actually to lose it, not assuring them love for the whole time of their life, but only for the end of it and for a certain time preceding. Such were the Apostles, David, Magdalen and many others, who for a time remained out of God's grace, but in the end being once for all converted were confirmed in grace until death; so that though from that time they continued subject to some imperfections, yet were they exempt from all mortal sin, and consequently from danger of losing the divine love, and were sacred spouses of the heavenly bridegroom.

And they were indeed adorned with a wedding garment of his most holy love, yet they were not crowned because a crown is an ornament of the head, that is, of the chief part of a person; now the first part of the life of this rank of souls having been subject to earthly love, they were not to be adorned with the crown of heavenly loves but it is sufficient for them to wear the robe, which fits them for the marriage bed of the heavenly spouse, and for being eternally happy with him.

1. Ps. xliv. 10.
2. Ps. xv. 11.