Maxims for Perseverance in Piety

TO LIVE constantly in devotion, we have only to establish sound principles or maxims in our soul. The first which I desire you to adopt is that of St. Paul: “All things work together for good to those who love God.” And truly, since God is able and understands how to draw good from evil, for whom will He be disposed to do so, if not for those who give themselves unreservedly to Him? Even sins, which God in His goodness has forbidden, are changed by the Divine Providence to the good of those who belong to Him. David would not have been so full of humility if he had not sinned, nor Magdalen of love for her Saviour if He had not forgiven her many sins; and never would He have forgiven them, if she had not committed them.

Behold the great dispenser of mercy: He changes our miseries into favors, and from the adder of our iniquities, makes a salutary balm for our souls. Tell me, then, I pray, what will He not do with our afflictions, our labors, our persecutions? If it happens that something grieves you, no matter from what quarter it comes, be assured that while you love God, all will turn to your good. And though you cannot see the means by which this good will come, be assured that it will come. If God places the bandage of ignominy over your eyes, it will be to render you an admirable sight, a spectacle of honor. If He permits you to fall, like St. Paul, whom He cast to the earth, it will be to raise you up with glory.

The second maxim is: that God is your Father; otherwise, He would not command you to say: Our Father, Who art in  Heaven. And what have you to fear, being the child of such a Father, without whose Providence not a hair of your head can fall? It is wonderful that, being the children of such a Father, we have, or could have, any other anxiety than to love and serve Him. Have the care He wishes you to have of yourself and your family, and no more; you will then see that He will have care of you. “Think of Me,” He said to St. Catherine of Siena, “and I will think of thee.” “O Eternal Father!” says the Wise Man, “Thy Providence directs all things.”

Do not look forward to the occurrences of this life with fear, but accept them with perfect confidence that, as they happen, God will protect and deliver you; He has guarded you until the present; hold fast by the hand of His Providence, and He will assist you on all occasions: and where you cannot walk, He will carry you. What should you fear, belonging to God, who has so emphatically assured us, that all things work together for good to those who love Him?

The true servant of God is not solicitous about the morrow; he performs faithfully what God requires of him today, and will perform what God will require of him tomorrow, and the same the next day, and the next day, without a word. Thus he unites his will, not to the means of serving God, but to the service and good pleasure of God. “Be not solicitous about the morrow, and say not: What shall we eat? Or wherewith shall we be clothed? Or how shall we live? For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things; seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:31-33) This extends to spiritual, as well as to temporal things.

Remain in peace, remove from your imagination whatever can trouble it, and say frequently to Our Lord: O God, Thou art my God, and I will confide in Thee; Thou wilt aid me, and be my refuge, and I shall fear nothing; for Thou art not only with me, but Thou art in me, and I in Thee.

This article is taken from a chapter in The St. Francis de Sales Signature Set  by St. Francis de Sales which is available from TAN Books.

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) was a prolific author who was once Bishop of Geneva, Switzerland.  He is best remembered for his wonderful books on the topic of spiritual direction and spiritual formation.  He has been called "the Gentleman Saint" on account of his patience and gentleness.