ticular state in which your affairs are ; and following
good advice, taken on the consideration of the par-
ticular circumstances which present themselves, you
cannot go wrong.
I will then pray our Lord to give you a good and
holy issue to this affair, that you may arrive at the
port of a solid and constant tranquillity of heart,
which can only be obtained in God, in whose holy
love I wish that you may more and more progress.
God bless you with his great blessings, that is, my
dear child, God make you perfectly his. I am in
him your very affectionate, &c.
I salute with all my heart your father, whom I
cherish with a quite special love and honour, and
madam your dear sister.
To THE SAME.
Fresh counsels on the same subject.
How grieved am I, my dearest daughter, not to have
received your last letter ; but our dear Madame N.
having told me the state of your affairs, I tell you
from my heart, from a heart which is entirely devoted
to yours, that you must not be obstinately set on
Letters to Voting Ladies. 29
going to law ; you will spend your time in this use-
lessly, and your heart also, which is worse.
Faith given to you has been broken : he who has
broken it has all the more sin. Do you wish, on
that account, to engage yourself in so ill an occupa-
tion as that of a wretched lawsuit ? You will be but
poorly revenged, if after having suffered this wrong,
you lose your tranquillity, your time, and the peace
of your interior.
You could not show greater courage than in de-
spising insults. Happy they who are left free at the
cost of the less trying ones ! Exclaim as S. Francis
did when his father rejected him, " Ah ! I will say
then with more confidence, Our Father who art in
heaven, as I have no longer one on earth." And
you ; ah ! I will say with more confidence : my spouse,
my love, who is in heaven.
Preserve your peace, and be content with Divine
Providence, which brings you back to the port from
which you were departing. As you were intending
to act, instead of a prosperous voyage you might have
perhaps met with a great shipwreck. Receive this
advice from a friend who cherishes you very purely
and very sincerely ; and I pray God to load you v.ith
blessings. In haste, I salute our dear sister.
3O St. Francis de Sales.
To A YOUNG LADY.
The gift of prayer comes from, heaven, and tve must prepare our-
selves for it with care ; by it me put ourselves in the prt -
sence of God. now a young person should behave when
her parents oppose her desire of becoming a religious.
MADEMOISELLE, Some time ago I received one of
your letters, which I much value, because it testifies
to the confidence you have in my love, which indeed
is really yours, doubt not. I only regret that I am
very little capable of answering what you ask me
concerning your troubles in prayer. I know that
you are where you cannot lack anything in this kind ;
but charity, which loves to communicate itself, makes
you ask mine in giving me yours. I will therefore
say something to you.
The disquietude you have in prayer, which is joined
with a very eager anxiety to find some object which
may content your spirit, is enough, of itself, to hinder
you from getting what you seek. We pass our hand
and our eyes a hundred times over a thing, without
noticing it at all, when we seek it with too much
From this vain and useless eagerness you can only
incur lassitude of spirit ; and hence this coldness and
numbness of your soul. I know not the remedies
you should use, but I feel sure that if you can pre-
vent this eagerness you will gain much ; for it is one
Letters to Young Ladies. 3 1
of the greatest traitors which devotion and true virtue
can meet with. It pretends to excite us to good, but
it is only to make us tepid, and only makes us run
in order to make us stumble. This is why we must
always beware of it, and specially in prayer.
And to aid yourself in this, remember that the
graces and goods of prayer are not waters of earth
but of heaven, and that thus all our efforts cannot
obtain them. Of course, we must dispose ourselves
for them with a great care, but a humble and quiet
care. We must keep our hearts open to heaven, and
await the holy dew. And never forget to carry to
prayer this consideration, that in it we approach God,
and put ourselves in his presence for two principal
1. To give God the honour and homage we owe
him ; and this can be done without his speaking to us
or we to him : for this duty is paid by remembering
that he is our God, and we his vile creatures, and by
remaining prostrate in spirit before him, awaiting his
How many courtiers go a hundred times into the
presence of the^king, not to hear him or speak to him,
but simply to be seen by him, and to testify by this
assiduity that they are his servants? And this end
in prostrating ourselves before God, only to testify
and protest our will and gratitude is very excellent,
holy, and pure, and therefore of the greatest perfec-
2. To speak with him, and hear him speak to us
32 St. Francis de Sales.
by his inspirations and interior movements, and gene-
rally this is with a very delicious pleasure, because
it is a great good for us to speak to so great a Lord ;
and when he answers he spreads abroad a thousand
precious balms and unguents, which give great sweet-
ness to the soul.
Well, my daughter, as you wish me to speak thus,
one of these two goods can never fail you in prayer.
If we can speak to our Lord, let us speak, let us
praise him, beseech him, listen to him ; if we cannot
use our voice, still let us stay in the room and do
reverence to him ; he will see us there, he will accept
our patience, and will favour our silence ; another
time we shall be quite amazed to be taken by the
hand and he will converse with us, and will make a
hundred turns with us in the walks of his garden of
prayer. And if he should never do this, let us be
content with our duty of being in his suite, and with
the great grace and too great honour he does us in
suffering our presence.
Thus we shall not be over-eager to speak to him,
since it is not less useful for us to be with him ; yea,
it is more useful though not so much to our taste.
When, then, you come to him, speak to him if you can;
if you cannot, stay there; be seen, and care for no-
thing else. Such is my advice, I do not know if it is
good, but I am not too much concerned about it, be-
cause, as I have said, you are where much better
advice cannot fail you.
As to your fear that your father may make you
Letters to Young Ladies. 33
lose your desire to be a Carmelite, by the long time
he fixes, say to God: Lord, all my desire is before you*
and let him act; he will turn your father's heart and
arrange for his own glory and your good. Mean-
while nourish your good desire, and keep it alive under
the ashes of humility and resignation to the will of
My prayers which you ask, are not wanting to you ;
for I could not forget you, especially at Holy Mass ;
I trust to your charity not to be forgotten in yours.
To A YOUNG LADY.
Whom me are to consult about entering religion.
Annecy, $rd July, 1612.
MADEMOISELLE, You think that your desire to enter
religion is not according to God's will, because you
do not find it agree with that of the persons who have
the power to command and the duty to guide you.
If this refers to those who have from God the power
and duty to guide your soul and to command you in
spiritual things, you are certainly right. In obeying
them you cannot err, although they may err and
advise you badly, if they look principally to any thing
else than your salvation and spiritual progress. But
if you mean those whom God has given you for
* Pa. xxxvii. IO.
34 . -SV- Francis de Sales.
directors in temporal and domestic things, you are
wrong when you trust them in things in which they
have no authority over you. If we had to hear the
advice of our relatives, of flesh and blood, in such
circumstances, there would be few who would embrace
the perfection of the Christian life. This is the first
The second is, that as you have not only desired
to leave the world, but would again desire it if allowed
by those who have kept you back, it is a clear sign
that God wishes your departure, since he continues
his inspirations amid so many contradictions. Your
heart, touched by the load-stone, always points to-
wards the pole-star, though quickly turned aside by
impediments of earth. For, what would your heart
say, if unhindered ? Would it not say : Let us go
from amongst those of the world ? This then is still
its inspiration ; but being hindered it .cannot or dares
not say thus. Give it its liberty before it speaks,
for it could not speak better things, and this secret
it says, so quietly to itself: I should like, I should
greatly wish to leave the world this is the true will
In this you are wrong (pardon my straightforward
liberty of speech) in this, I say, you are wrong, to
call what hinders the execution of this desire the will
of God, and the power of those who hinder you, the
power of God.
The third point of my counsel is that you are not
at all wrong with God, since the desire of retreat
Letters to Young Ladies. 3 5
which he has given is always in your heart, though
hindered from its effect. The balance of your mind
inclines that way, though a finger is placed on the
other side to hinder the proper weighing.
The fourth that if your first desire has been in
any way wrong, you must mend it, and not break it.
I am given to understand that you have offered half
your property, or the price of that house which is now
dedicated to God. Perhaps this was too much, con-
sidering that you have a sister with a large family,
for which, by the order of charity, you should rather
employ your property. So then, you must reduce
this excess, and come to this house with a part of
your income, as much as is necessary for quiet living,
leaving all the rest as you like, and even reserving
the above-named part, after your death, for those to
whom you may wish to do good. Thus you will
guard against extremes and keep to your design, and
all will go gaily, gently, and holily.
In fine, take courage, and make a good absolute
resolution ; though it is not a sin to remain thus
in these weaknesses, still, you lose good chances of
making progress and of gaining very desirable con-
I have informed you exactly of my opinion, think-
ing you will do me the favour not to think it wrong
of me. God give you the holy benedictions I wish
you, and the sweet correspondence he desires from
your heart, and I am in him, with all sincerity,
Mademoiselle, your, &c.
36 St. Francis de Sales.
To A YOUNG LADY.
The Saint invites Tier to follow God's inspiration, and to
consecrate herself to him.
MADEMOISELLE, You made me promise, and I faith-
fully keep my word. I beg God to give you his holy
strength, generously to break all the ties which hinder
your heart from following his heavenly attractions.
My God ! the truth must be told ; it is sad to see a
dear little bee, caught in the vile web of spiders.
But, if a favourable wind break this frail net and
cruel threads, why should not this dear little bee
loosen itself and get out, and hasten to make its sweet
You see, dearest daughter, my thoughts : make
yours known to this Saviour who calls you. I can-
not help loving your soul, which I know to be good,
and cannot but wish it that most desirable gift the
love of generous perfection. I remember the tears
you shed when, saying to you Adieu (A-Dieu, liter-
ally, to God], I wished you to be A-Dieu. And you,
to be more A-Dieu, said Adieu to all that is not for
God (pour Dieu). Meanwhile I assure you, my
dearest daughter, that I am greatly your servant in
Letters to Young Ladies. 37
To A YOUNG LADY.
The Saint exhorts her to give herself entirely to God.
The Eve of our Lady's, 8th September, 1619.
MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, I say to you with all my
heart, Adieu; may you ever be "to God" in this mor-
tal life, serving him faithfully in the pain of carrying
the cross after him here, and in the heavenly life*
blessing him eternally with all the heavenly court.
It is the great good of our souls to be "to God/' and
the greatest good to be only "to God."
He who is only " to God" is never sorrowful, except
for having offended God; and his sorrow for that
dwells in a deep, but tranquil and peaceful humility
and submission. Then he raises himself up in the
Divine goodness, by a sweet and perfect confidence,
without annoyance or bitterness.
He who is " to God" only, seeks him only ; and
because God is not less in adversity than prosperity,
such a one remains at peace in adversity.
He who is " to God" only, often thinks of him
amidst all the occupations of this life.
He who is " to God" only, wishes every one to
know whom he serves, and tries to take the means
proper for remaining united to him.
Be then all " to God," my dearest daughter, and be
only his, only wishing to please him, and his creatures
in him, according to him, and for him. What greater
3 8 St. Francis de Sales.
blessing can I wish you ? Thus, then, by this desire,
which I will unceasingly make for your soul, my
dearest daughter, I say to you " A-Dieu -" and praying
you often to recommend me to his mercy, I remain
To A YOUNG LADY.
The Saint exhorts her to keep her good resolutions. The best
Afflictions are those which humble us. Means to acquire
femour in prayer.
MADEMOISELLE, I will gladly keep the copy of your
vow, and God will keep the fulfilment of it. He was
its author, and he will be its keeper. I will often,
make for this end St. Augustine's prayer : Alas ! Lord,
here is a little chicken hidden uuder the wings of your
grace : if it gets out of the shadow of its mother the
kite will seize it. Let it then live by the help and
protection of the grace which brought it forth. But
look, my sister, you must not even think whether this
resolution will be lasting; this must be held as so
certain and settled that there can no longer be any
doubt of it.
You do me a great favour in telling me a word
about your inclinations. However slight these may
be, they injure our soul, when they are ill regulated.
Keep them in check, and do not think them of small
Letters to Young Ladies. 39
account ; for they are of much weight, in the scales
of the sanctuary.
The desire to avoid occasions is not to be gratified
in this matter ; for it makes us give up real earnestness
in fighting. This latter is a necessity, while the former
is impossible ; moreover, where there is no danger of
mortal sin, we must not flee, but must conquer all our
enemies, and keep on, not losing heart, even if some-
Yes, truly, my dear daughter, expect from me all
that you can expect from a true father ; for I have,
indeed, just such affection for you ; you will know it
as we advance, God helping.
So then, my good daughter, here you are afflicted,
in just the proper way to serve God. Afflictions with-
out abjection often puff the heart up instead of hum-
bling it, but when we suffer evil without honour, or
when dishonour itself, contempt and abjection are our
evil, what occasions have we of exercising patience,
humility, modesty, and sweetness of heart !
The glorious St. Paul rejoiced, and with a holy and
glorious humility, in that he and his companions were
esteemed as the sweepings and rakings of the world.
You have still, you tell me, a very lively sense of
injuries; but, my dear daughter, this "still/' what
does it refer to? Have you already done much in
conquering those enemies ? I mean by this to remind
you that we must have good courage and a good heart
to do better in the future, since we are only beginning^
though we have a good desire to do well.
4O St. Francis de Sales.
In order to become fervent in prayer, desire very
much to be so, willingly read the praises of prayer,
which are given in many books, in Granada, the
beginning of Bellintani, and elsewhere; because the
appetite for food makes us very pleased to eat it.
You are very happy, my child, in having devoted
yourself to God. Do you remember what St. Francis
said when his father stripped him before the Bishop of
Assisi ? " Now, therefore, I can well say : ' Our Father
who art in heaven/ * David says : My father and
mother have left me, but the Lord has taken me up.*
Make no apology for writing to me, there is no
need, since I am, so willingly, devoted to your soul.
May God bless it with his great blessings and make it
all his !
To A YOUNG LADY WHO FOUND OBSTACLES TO HER
DESIRE TO BE A E-EL1GIOUS.
We must be always able to say to God: " Thy rvill be done"
MADEMOISELLE, You should resign yourself entirely
into the hands of the good God, who, when you have
done your little duty about this inspiration arid design
which you have, will be pleased with whatever you do,
even if it be much less. In a word, you must have
* Ps. xxvi. 10.
Letters to Young Ladies. 4 1
courage to do everything to become a religious, since
God gives you such a desire : but if after all your
efforts you cannot succeed, you could not please our
Lord more than by sacrificing to him your will, and
remaining in tranquillity, humility, and devotion, en-
tirely conformed and submissive to his divine will and
good pleasure, which you will recognize clearly enough
when, having done your best, you cannot fulfil your
For our good God sometimes tries our courage and
our love, depriving us of the things which seem to us,
and which really are, very good for the soul ; and if he
sees us ardent in their pursuit, and yet humble, tran-
quil, and resigned to the doing without and to the
privation of the thing sought, he gives us blessings
greater in the privation than in the possession of the
thing desired ; for in all, and everywhere, God loves
those who with good heart, and simply, on all occa-
sions, and in all events, can say to him,
THY WILL BE DONE.
To A POSTULANT.
He praises her for wishing to enter the Order of the Visitation.
Annecy, 6th March, 1622.
I HAVE never seen you, my dearest daughter, so far as
I know, except upon the mountain of Calvary, where
reside the hearts which the heavenly Spouse favours
42 6V. Francis de Sales.
with his divine loves. O how happy are you, my
dearest daughter, so faithfully and lovingly to have
chosen this dwelling-place to adore the crucified Jesus
in this life ! For thus you are assured of adoring
Jesus Christ glorified in the next.
But, look you, the inhabitants of this hill must be
despoiled of all worldly habits and affections, as their
king was of the garments which he wore when he got
there. These, though they had been holy, had been
profaned when the executioners stripped them off in
the house of Pilate.
Beware, my dear child, of entering into the banquet
of the cross, a thousand thousand times more delicious
than secular marriage feasts, without the pure white
robe, clear of all intention save to please the Lamb.
O my dear child, how lovely is heaven's eternity, and
how miserable are the moments of earth ! Aspire con-
tinually to this eternity, and boldly despise this failing
scene, and the moments of this mortality.
Let not yourself be misled by fears of past errors, or
of future hardships in this crucified life of religion.
Say not : how can I forget the world and the things
of the world ? For your heavenly Father knows that
you have need of this oblivion, and will give it to you
if, as a daughter of confidence, you throw yourself into
his arms entirely and faithfully.
Our mother, your superior, writes to me that you
have very good natural inclinations. My child, they
are goods, for the management of which you will have
to give account ; be careful to use them iu the service
Letters to Young Ladies. 43
of him who has given them to you. Plant on this
wild stock the grafts of the eternal love which God is
ready to give you, if by perfect abnegation of self you
dispose yourself to receive them. All the rest I have
said to our mother. To you I have no more to say,
save that, as God wills it, I am with all my heart,
LETTERS TO MARRIED WOMEN.
To A YOUNG MARRIED LADY.
The Saint congratulates Tier on her marriage, and gives her advice
on the duties of her state.
1 2th March 1613.
MAY God be blessed and glorified in this change of
state which you have made for his name, my dearest
daughter ; and I still say dearest daughter because this
change changes nothing in the truly paternal affection
which I have given to you. You will find that if you
have a perfect resignation of your soul to the pro-
vidence and will of our Lord, you will advance in this
vocation, you will have much consolation, and will be-
come at last very holy. It was what was necessary
for your soul, as you have met a gentleman so full of
You are wrong to have a scruple about breaking
the fast, as the doctor's advice requires it.
Guide yourself, as regards communion, by the wish
46 6V. Francis de Sales.
of your confessor ; for you must give him this satis-
faction, and you will lose nothing ; for what you may
lack as regards receiving the holy Sacrament, you will
find in submission and obedience. As a rule of life I
will only give you what is in the book '* but if God
disposes so that I can see you, and if there is any kind
of difficulty, I will answer you.
There is no need for you to write me your con-
fession : if you should have some special point on which
you want to consult with my heart, which is all yours,
you can write.
Be very gentle ; do not live by humours and incli-
nations, but by reason and devotion. Love your
husband tenderly, as having been given to you by the
hand of our Lord.
Be very humble towards all ; you must take great
care to bring your spirit to peace and tranquillity, and
to choke bad inclinations by attention to the practice
of the contrary virtues, resolving to be more diligent,
attentive, and active in the practice of virtues ; and
note these four words that I am going to say to you :
your trouble comes from this, that you rather fear
vices than love virtues.
If you could but stir the deep part of your soul to
love the practice of gentleness and true humility, my
dear daughter, you would be admirable ; but it is
necessary to often think about it. Make the morning
preparation,t and in general make the spiritual life a
part of your regular duty ; God will repay you with a
* The Introduction. f Introd. ii. 10.
Letters to Married Women. 47
thousand consolations. But you must not forget to
often lift up your heart to God, and your thoughts to
eternity. Read a little every day, I beg you, in the
name of God ; do so for me, who every day recom-
mends you to God, and I beg his infinite goodness to
bless you for ever, your, &c.
To A MARRIED LADY.
Advantages of a holy marriage; how we ought to live in that
At Lyons, the Eve of our Lady's, 8th September, 1612.
MADAM, The hope which I have always had, from a
year ago till now, of going into France, has held me
back from reminding you by letter of my inviolable
affection to your service, as I thought some happy
chance would give me the means of paying you this
duty in person ; but now that I hardly any longer hope
for this good, and this trusty bearer gives me so safe
an opportunity, I rejoice with you, my dearest
daughter for that word is more cordial.
I rejoice and I praise our Lord for the good and
happy marriage you have made, which will serve you
as a foundation whereon to build and erect for your-
self a sweet and agreeable life in this world, and to
pass happily this mortality in the most holy fear of
God, in which by his grace you have been nourished
48 St. Francis de Sales.
from your cradle. Everybody tells me that your
husband is one of the best and most accomplished
chevaliers of France, and that your union is not only
formed by a holy friendship which -will ever tighten
it more and more, but also blessed with fertility.
You must then correspond to all the favours of
heaven, my dearest child ; for they are without doubt
given you that you may profit by them unto the glory
of him that gave them to you, and your own salvation.
I am sure, my dearest daughter, that you employ jour