Malankara World

The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales

By Jean Pierre Camus


BLESSED FRANCIS' ESTIMATE OF VARIOUS VIRTUES

1. He preferred those virtues the practice of which is comparatively frequent, common, and ordinary, to others which we may be called upon to exercise on rare occasions.

2. He considered, as we have seen, that the degree of the supernatural in any virtue could not be decided by the greatness or smallness of the external act, since an act in itself altogether trivial, may be performed with much grace and charity, while a very brilliant and dazzling good work may be animated by but a very feeble spark of love of God, the intensity of which is, after all, the only rule by which to ascertain its true value in His sight.

3. The more universal a virtue, the more, he said, it is to be preferred before all others, charity only excepted. For instance, he valued prayer as the light which illumines all other virtues; devotion, as consecrating all our actions to God; humility, which makes us set but little value on ourselves and on our doings; meekness, which yields to all; patience, which includes everything besides. He valued these, I say, more than magnanimity, or liberality, because such virtues can be more rarely practiced and they affect fewer subjects.

4. He was always on his guard against showy virtues, which of their very nature encourage vainglory, the bane of all good works.

5. He blamed those who measure virtues by the standard set up by the world, who prefer temporal to spiritual alms; haircloth, fasting, and corporal austerities to sweetness, modesty, and the mortification of the heart; virtues by far the more excellent.

6. He greatly condemned those who select the virtues most agreeable to their taste, and practice these alone, quite regardless of those which are specially adapted to their state of life. These people, indeed, serve God, but after a way of their own, not according to His will: a by no means uncommon mistake, which leads many, otherwise devout-minded, far out of the right path.

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