Post by Admin on Feb 2, 2020 12:31:41 GMT
Letters to Persons in the World
[Adapted from here.]
Thy Will Be Done: Letters to Persons in the World draws on the English translation of the letters of St. Francis de Sales originally published in The Library of St. Francis de Sales, vol. 1, Letters to Persons in the World, translated by the very Reverend Henry Benedict Mackey (London: Burns & Oates, Ltd.; New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benziger Brothers, 1894). For this 1995 edition, there have been extensive editorial revisions and improvements in the translation. Sophia Institute Press, New Hampshire, Manchester, 1995
LETTERS TO PERSONS IN THE WORLD
Table of Contents
Overcoming Fear, Temptation, Failure and Discouragement
* * *
Alice von Hildebrand
In his holy Rule, St. Benedict writes of the abbot of the monastery: “Let him realize also how difficult and arduous a task he has undertaken, of ruling souls and adapting himself to many dispositions. One he must honour, another rebuke, another persuade, according to each one’s disposition and understanding, and thus adapt and accommodate himself to all in such a way that he may not only suffer no loss in the sheep committed to him, but may even rejoice in the increase of a good flock.”
St. Francis de Sales was no abbot, but in addressing himself to the topic of how to choose a spiritual director, he warns souls that they cannot be careful enough in their selection, for the chances of finding a worthy and good one are very small indeed, one in thousands.
I wonder if he realized, when writing these words, that those under his guidance had truly found in him the precious pearl, one of the greatest spiritual directors in the history of the Catholic Church. Maybe a few others were as great as he was; none was greater.
He guided innumerable souls from all walks of life, adapting himself to each individual mould, each individual rhythm, each individual need. He himself writes that souls differ more widely from each other than the human faces do. He, no doubt, needed all the qualities that St. Benedict claims abbots should possess to tend this amazing variety of flowers in God’s garden.
Yet St. Francis always kept in mind that however different souls might be, all of them ultimately have the same vocation: to glorify God by their holiness – that is, to be transformed in Christ. Endowed with natural grace, illumined by supernatural grace, St. Francis knew how to adapt himself to each individual case. With an intuitive sense that clearly came from above, he knew when to encourage, when to rebuke, when to moderate and slacken the pace of those anxious to run, when to quicken the pace of those who were sluggish. He combined patience and love with firmness in his principles, never deviating from the teaching of the holy Church. He made no distinction of persons; to all his spiritual children, whether rich or poor, cultivated or uncouth, male or female, he gave the same loving care, the same unconditional devotion.
While feeling a holy envy for those souls to whom these letters were written, we can nevertheless benefit from his supernatural wisdom by reading and meditating on them. Their publication should be welcomed by all those who long to be helped on their way to God.
 The Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 2.