BY ST FRANCIS DE SALES
HOW TO OBTAIN PEACE
If we do three things we will obtain peace: we are to have a pure intention of desire, in all things, honour God and His glory; do the little we can for this end…; and leave to God the care of all the rest.
For he who has God as the object of his intentions, and does what he is able to do, why should he be disturbed? What could he fear?
No, I repeat no, God is not so terrible with those whom he loves. He is content with little, since He well knows that we have but little. Know that Our Lord is called “Prince of Peace” in the Scriptures and that, notwithstanding that He is Father of all, He maintains everything in peace. Nonetheless, it is true that before establishing peace in a place He procures there a war, separating the soul from that which is most dear and customary to it, which means to say from an unmeasured love for oneself, from self-complacency and the like.
Therefore, when Our Lord separates us from these passions which are so agreeable and dear to us, it seems that He flays our heart alive. We experience sentiments which are extremely bitter. We cannot avoid struggling with all our soul, because this separation is very painful. But all this battling leaves us in peace if at the end we do not fail to keep our will resigned to that of Our Lord, letting Him nail it to His good pleasure: in this way we will not omit our duties or their fulfilment at all, but will carry them out courageously.
DO ALL IN PEACE
Since love only dwells in peace, I recommend that you take care always to conserve well holy tranquillity of heart. All the thoughts that procure anxiety and agitation of spirit do not come from God at all, since He is the Prince of Peace. They are temptations of the enemy and therefore it is necessary to get rid of and make no account of them. It is necessary to live tranquilly in all and for all. If a suffering, interior or exterior comes, we must accept it calmly. If we receive a joy, we should welcome it with the same tranquillity, without being startled. Must we fly from evil? It is necessary to do this calmly, without preoccupation, since otherwise in the flight we would fall and give opportunity to the enemy to kill us. Must we do good? We should do it serenely, otherwise we could commit many errors by our agitation. It is necessary to do even penance calmly.
PEACE AND HUMILITY
Peace is born of humility. Nothing disturbs us as much as self-love and the esteem we have for ourselves… How is it that when we fall into imperfections and sin, we are surprised, disturbed and impatient? Without doubt we believed ourselves to be strong, resolute and stable. Consequently, when we see that we are nothing of the kind, we find ourselves with our face to the ground and realise that we have been mistaken and are disturbed, offended and anxious. If we would be truly conscious of what we are, instead of being amazed at seeing ourselves humbled, we would rather be astounded as to how we could still remain standing.
THE GREAT DOCTOR
See this great and merciful doctor: He converts our miseries into graces and gives to our souls the salutary medicine against the viper of our iniquities. Tell me, I beseech you, what will He do with our afflictions, our weariness, and the persecutions received? If, therefore, it happens that you are caused some displeasure, of whatsoever kind it may be, rest assured, since you love God very much, that all will be turned to good. If you do not see the ways by which these will come to you, you can at least be sure that they will come. If God throws the mud of ignominy in your eyes, it is to give you good sight and make you assist at a spectacle of honour. If God permits you to fall, as in the case of St Paul – thrown by Him to the ground – it is to raise you up to glory.
It is necessary to deal carefully with one’s labours, but with neither haste nor worry. Do not rush, since every kind of haste disturbs the reason and the ability to judge and it also impedes us from doing well what we are about to do with frenzy… When Our Lord reproached St Martha He said to her: “Martha, Martha, you are troubled and disturbed by many things.” Notice well, if she had only been diligent, she would not have been disturbed at all; since in her preoccupation and anxiousness, she was doing things with haste and was troubled. For this reason Our Lord reproached her… A duty done with impetuosity and haste was never well done… Therefore accept what happens to you in peace and strive to do the things with order, one after another.
PEACE IN THE FACE OF OUR DEFECTS
It is necessary to detest our defects, but with a calm and tranquil aversion, without disappointment and disturbance. We must accept our defects patiently and draw from them the profit of a holy humiliation of ourselves. Otherwise the imperfections which you see subtly within you, will disturb you still more subtly and thus they will remain, there being nothing which retains our faults more than anxiety and haste which need to be eliminated…
Avoid as far as possible being disturbed when you are not able to immediately placate the variety of sentiments in the changes of your moods.