Monday, September 27, 2010

Spiritual Advice - Avoid Being Anxious About the Little Things

It appears that Saint Francis de Sales is the one who originally came up with the idea of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff".

"St. Basil says that when God's will is shown clearly to us by His ordinances and commandments, there is nothing further to deliberate on, for we must simply do what has been ordained." BUT, St. Francis counsels, "for all other things, it is in our liberty to choose what seems good according to our preferences, although we must not do all that is lawful, but only what is determine properly what is suitable, we must listen to the advice of a wise spiritual director.

St. Francis warns against the troublesome temptation that as he says "comes to souls who have a great desire to follow in all things what best accords with God's will. On every occasion the enemy puts them in doubt as to whether it is God's will for them to do one thing rather than another." The following are some examples given by St. Francis de Sales:


-whether it is God's will to dine with a certain friend or not;

-whether they should wear gray clothes or black;

-whether they should fast on Friday or Saturday;

-whether they should participate in a certain recreation or abstain from it;

-whether it is better to hear Mass in one church rather than another;

-whether it is better to spin rather than to sew;

-whether it is better to give alms to a man or to a woman.

-whether to go to the hospital to visit the sick rather than to vespers?

-whether to go hear a sermon rather than visit a church where one can earn an indulgence;

St. Francis says that if we do so, we are wasting a lot of time. While perplexing over these small matters, we are losing many opportunities to do good deeds.

"Choices of vocation, plans for some affair of great importance, a work requiring a long time or some very great expenditure of money, change or residence, choice of associates, and such similar t hings require that we think seriously as to what best accords with God's will. But, in little daily actions, ion which even a mistake is neither of consequence nor beyond repair, what need is there for us to make a great to-do, given them much attention, and stop to make importunate consultation with others? To what purpose will I make trouble for myself to learn whether God prefers me to say the Rosary or the Office of Our Lady? There can be no such great differences between the one and the other that a long inquest should be hold...

...We must proceed in good faith and without subtle distinctions in such affairs (Note: the above list of examples) and, as St. Basil says, do freely what seems good to us, so as not to weary our minds, waste our time, and put ourselves in danger of disquiet, scruples, and superstition...

...Even in important matters, we must be very humble and not think of finding God's will by force of scrutiny and subtle discussion. We must:

- pray to the Holy Spirit for illumination;

- "applied our thought to search for His good pleasure";

- Speak and listen to our spiritual director or maybe another spiritual person;

"Finally, we must come to a resolution and decision in the name of God. After that we must not call our choice in doubt, but devoutly, peacefully, and firmly keep and sustain it."

We must be willing to live with our decision so as not to cause disruption of peace in our soul.

From Finding God's Will for You by St. Francis de Sales, Sophia Press Publishers.

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