4. Combining Frailty With Fidelity
Dear Father Francis,
Please forgive me bothering you with my letters, but it helps sometimes just to tell someone my difficulties.
I'm still worried about my failings. Although I go regularly to church and say my prayers every day, I still find it a struggle to be good. I've tried telling myself that I ought to be ashamed of my weakness, but it doesn't help very much.
M de la Flechere.
Dear Mrs de la Flechere,
Whenever you feel that writing to me will help you in any way, I want you to do so with complete confidence.
There are two things we should combine: a genuine attempt at the exact observance of all practices of the spiritual life, and an effort to remain unruffled by our occasional lapses.
The genuineness of the attempt depends on our fidelity, which should always be unshakable and growing constantly stronger. The lapses are the result of human frailty, which it is impossible to escape in this life.
When faults occur, we should ask ourselves whether our resolve to serve God is still wholehearted and sincere.
I hope that we shall be able to give a reassuring answer, determined to suffer a thousand deaths rather than break our resolution.
But let us question ourselves further: ‘Why, then, have we fallen now? Why are we so fainthearted?
We must forgive ourselves. We did not fail trough infidelity but trough frailty. We need to correct ourselves gently and calmly, and not to be annoyed or perplexed with ourselves any longer.
‘Well now, we ought to say, in God's name let us take heart and continue carefully on our way, lifting up our minds and hearts to God, our refuge and our help'.
We must deal very kindly with our souls, and never scold them as long as it is obvious that they have been taken unawares.
In doing this, you see, we shall be practicing humility.
Working out our salvation is our way of serving God, after all, it was what our Lord did during his heartily life. Don't be in a hurry to fight but await the struggle with calm assurance.
May our Lord be your strength. I am in him,
Your devoted servant,
FRANCIS DE SALES
Take a moment to treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart (cf Luke 2,19)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. Col 4:6