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Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales

Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales

Author:Francis de Sales [de Sales, Francis]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Spiritual & Religion
ISBN: 9781681497228
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Published: 2016-07-27T05:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER 14

Poverty of Spirit Amid Riches

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5:3); and if so, woe be to the rich in spirit, for theirs must be the bitterness of hell. By rich in spirit I mean him whose riches engross his mind, or whose mind is buried in his riches. He is poor in spirit whose heart is not filled with the love of riches, whose mind is not set upon them. The halcyon builds its nest like a ball, and leaving but one little aperture in the upper part, launches it on the sea, so secure and impenetrable, that the waves carry it along without any water getting in, and it floats on the sea, superior, so to say, to the waves. And this, my child, is what your heart should be—open only to heaven, impenetrable to riches and earthly treasures. If you have them, keep your heart from attaching itself to them; let it maintain a higher level, and amidst riches be as though you had none, superior to them. Do not let that mind that is the likeness of God cling to mere earthly goods; let it always be raised above them, not sunk in them.

There is a wide difference between having poison and being poisoned. All apothecaries have poisons ready for special uses, but they are not consequently poisoned, because the poison is only in their shop, not in themselves; and so you may possess riches without being poisoned by them, so long as they are in your house or purse only, and not in your heart. It is the Christian’s privilege to be rich in material things, and poor in attachment to them, thereby having the use of riches in this world and the merit of poverty in the next.

Of a truth, my child, no one will ever own themselves to be avaricious; everyone denies this contemptible vice—men excuse themselves on the plea of providing for their children, or plead the duty of prudent forethought—they never have too much, there is always some good reason for accumulating more; and even the most avaricious of men not only do not own to being such, but sincerely believe that they are not; and that because avarice is as a strong fever which is all the less felt as it rages most fiercely. Moses saw that sacred fire that burned the bush without consuming it, but the profane fire of avarice acts precisely the other way, it consumes the miser, but without burning, for, amid its most intense heat, he believes himself to be deliciously cool, and imagines his insatiable thirst to be merely natural and right.

If you long earnestly, anxiously, and persistently after what you do not possess, it is all very well to say that you do not wish to get it unfairly, but you are all the time guilty of avarice. He who longs eagerly and anxiously to drink, though it may be water only, thereby indicates that he is feverish.



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