Monday, June 12, 2006

Francis De Sales' Letter "To A Woman Beset By Many Tasks"

My dear daughter,

I remember you telling me how much the multiplicity of your affairs weighs on you; and I said to you that it is a good opportunity for acquiring the true and solid virtues. The multiplicity of affairs is a continual martyrdom, for just as flies cause more pain and irritation to those who travel in summer than the travelling itself does, just so the diversity and the multitude of affairs causes more pain than the weight of these affairs itself.

Lord, it's so true! It's not the individual weights of the tasks or even the cumulative effect--it's being pulled thirty-three different directions before lunchtime that kills me. "The multiplicity of affairs is a continual martyrdom"--indeed.

You need patience, and I hope that God will give it to you (if you ask it of Him carefully) and that you will try to practice it faithfully, preparing yourself for it every morning by a special application of some point in your meditation, and resolving to restore yourself to patience throughout the day as many times as you sense yourself becoming distracted.

That could be pretty often!

Lord, in what careful way can I apply myself, with Your help, to patience as a starting point each morning? And how "restore myself to patience throughout the day"? I know this is exactly what I need to do.

Do not lose any occasion, however small it may be, for exercising gentleness of heart toward everyone. Do not think that you will be able to succeed in your affairs by your own efforts, but only by the assistance of God; and on setting out, consign yourself to His care, believing that He will do that which will be best for you, provided that, on your part, you employ a gentle diligence. I say "gentle diligence," because violent diligence spoils the heart and the affairs, and is not diligence, but haste and trouble.

Ouch. I confess, Lord, to gutting it out with a violent diligence that does neither me or my family any good.

May I set out each morning by consigning the day and myself to Your care, employing a gentle diligence as I entrust You with my multiple affairs.

...Have patience with everyone, but chiefly with yourself; I mean to say, do not trouble yourself about your imperfections, and always have the courage to lift yourself out of them. I am well content that you begin again every day; there is no better way to perfect the spiritual life than always to begin again and never to think you have done enough.

Grace and perserverance--so simple, yet so difficult. Lord, give me patience with myself and my imperfections, as You do. Help me begin again every day--as You do!

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