Recently, we looked at the writings of St. Francis de Sales in his book Introduction to the Devout Life, specifically dealing with temptations and how they can affect our path to holiness. In our last discussion, I excerpted from Book IV, Chapter X, “How to strengthen the Heart against Temptation”.
Since that time, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what St. Francis calls our “dominant passions”. Reflecting on my own, they are quite apparent. Getting to the core and rooting them out is a whole other kettle of fish. So I decided to take St. Francis’s writing and adapt it for my own personal use, filling in the blank according to my own dominant passion, and praying to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment to know myself and for courage and fortitude to change myself. Thinking it might help you as well, I pass it along for your praying pleasure.
Alleluia! Alleluia! He is Risen! Anne
How to strengthen the Heart against Temptation.
Book IV, Chapter X (an adapted practical guide)
EXAMINE from time to time what are the dominant passions of your soul, and having ascertained this; mould your life, so that in thought, word and deed you may as far as possible counteract them.
Regularly, set some time aside to meditate and take action (fill in the blank with your own dominant passion):
- I am disposed to be ________.
- What are the effects of my _______? How does it affect my relationships? How does it affect me? How does it damage my witness as a Christian? How is it an unbalanced response to the gifts of God? How does it hurt the heart of Jesus?
- Today, I will ensure that my words have no tendency to foster my ________, and even though I may seem to be doing so reluctantly, I will strive to despise it heartily, and to rank myself in every way among its enemies. Indeed, by dint of steady opposition to anything, I can teach myself to hate even that which I began by liking.
- Today, I will do as many deeds contrary to ________ as lie in my power, even if I perform them unwillingly at first; for by this means I will form a habit of (the opposite of my dominant passion), and I will weaken my ________, so that when temptation arises, I will be less predisposed to yield and stronger to resist.
In a word, let your time of peace,—that is to say, the time when you are not beset by temptations to sin,—be used in cultivating the graces most opposed to your natural difficulties, and if opportunities for their exercise do not arise, go out of your way to seek them, and by so doing you will strengthen your heart against future temptations.