Friday, January 29, 2016

A Saint Francis de Sales On Avoiding Frivolity

CHAPTER XVII. On Friendship: Evil and Frivolous Friendship. Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life.
Love ranks first among the passions of the soul, it is king of every motion of the heart; it turns all the rest to itself, and it renders us like to that which we love. Be on guard, then, Philothea, to not have an evil one, for in just the same way you would become totally evil. And friendship is the most dangerous love of all, because any other love might exist without communication, but friendship being totally founded thereon, one can hardly have it with someone without sharing in his attributes.
Not all love is friendship, for one may love without being loved, and then there is love but not friendship; insofar as friendship is a mutual love; and, if it is not mutual, it is not friendship. It is not enough that it should be mutual, but the parties who love each other must be conscious of their reciprocal affection; because, if they do not know it, they would have love but not friendship. With that there must be some sort of communication between them, which should be the solid foundation of friendship.
According to the various communications the friendship also varies, and the communications vary according to the different goods in which they share. If they are false and vain things, the friendship is false and vain; if they are true goods, the friendship is true. And, the more excellent the goods the more excellent will the friendship be; because, just as honey is best which is culled from the choicest flowers, so friendship built upon the highest and purest communication is the best. And just as in Heraclea Pontica there is a poisonous honey which makes those who eat it lose their senses, because it is gathered from the aconitum, which abounds in that region, so the friendship which is based on false communication and viscous goods is entirely false and evil.
Friendship based on sensual pleasure is totally gross and is unworthy of being called friendship; as is also that which is based on frivolous and vain virtues, because those virtues also depend on the senses. I call sensual pleasures those which attach immediately and principally to the exterior senses, such as the pleasure of seeing beauty, of hearing a sweet voice, of touching, and the like. I call frivolous virtues certain vain abilities and characteristics which which weak minds call virtues and perfections. Listen to most girls, women and young people; they don't hesitate at all to say that such-and-such a gentleman is very virtuous, he has many perfections, because he dances well, he plays all sorts of games well, he dresses well, he sings well, he is affectionate, he is good-looking. And charlatans have the greatest buffoons as the most virtuous among them. And, since all these things regard the senses, so the friendships which come from them are called vain and frivolous, more fitly to be called trifling than friendship. They are typical of the friendships among youth, who focus on moustaches, on hair, on earrings, on clothes at the funeral and at the hair salon. Friendships proper to the age of lovers who do not yet have any virtue which fills them nor the judgment to hold them together. Such frienships are but passing, and they melt like snow in the sun! + (Plinthos translation)
Friendships are like the elevator, they either bring you up or they bring you down. “You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world,” says the Lord. Matt. 5:13 Which means the world should become better, genuinely tastier, even more delicious, brighter, more delightful, more nourishing and smarter because you were there! Your life should make things clearer for people. They should see better because of you. To counsel the doubtful, to instruct the ignorant, to reprimand the sinner are all necessary works of mercy (in the year of mercy above all!). People's sense of supernatural taste should improve and their appetites for God should become more refined, more discriminate and more temperate because of you.
Actually, and this is the most important point, it's not actually because of you but rather because of the salt which you dispense and the light which you emit. Notice that the salt and the light are not your invention. Christ says of Himself: “I am the light of the world.” Jn. 8:12 The light is His. It is His light which enlightens men! It has its own distinct nature and you are simply the minister—you receive it and faithfully pass it on from the Lord and for the Lord, and, indeed, to the Lord, for He says “whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did it to me.” Matt. 25:40 And you need to be constantly replenished by going to the Source: Christ. Be a true friend of Christ, in His Church, and you will bring salt and light, truth and goodness to your friends and foes. All for the sake of mercy, misericordia, (heart!) beyond, far beyond the surface, joining in the plights of men for the glory of God.

What is more, do not forget the first Light bearer, the first friend of God, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Befriend Her Who delivered Him to the world, especially as you celebrate this Annus a Virginis partu 2016. Faustum et felicim annum a Virginis partu MMXVI (duo millesimum decimum sextum) precor vobis!
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