Counsels to Candidates
ATTENTION: ALL THOSE PREPARING TO ENTER RELIGIOUS LIFE!
Amidst your joy of preparation, are you struggling, perhaps with family, friends, or the renunciation of lifelong treasures or books? Do your own emotions get the better of you in the process?
What if a Doctor of the Church, a Saint, were to come to you with counsel and advice? Preposterous!?
A renowned and gentle Spiritual Director, St. Francis de Sales, helped many a candidate to the religious life with his sound advice 400 years ago, and that advice remains applicable today. See if what he had to say applies to your own heart:
“WHAT joy, my very dear daughter, did my heart receive to see the frankness and simplicity of your heart at this beginning time. Do not be troubled about these tears ; for although they are not good, still they come from a good place. If our resolutions were trifling and liable to be revoked, we should not have these strong feelings in these abnegations or in these high determinations which we have made. David wept those abundant tears over the dead Saul, though he was his greatest enemy ; we may weep a little over this world, which is dying, yea, which is dead for us,and to which we mean for ever to die.
My daughter, my good daughter, how glad I am to see you suffering a little these pains of spiritual child-birth ! No, never did any soul bring forth Jesus Christ without pain, save the Blessed Virgin, to whom he gave in exchange great pains as he died. But, my daughter, you will see that after these pangs you will have a thousand sorts of consolations.
Yes, give these powders and this gilded paper to some lady of the world, who should however be of such confidence that you can tell her the subject of this little renunciation ; and do not be afraid that this may scandalise her. On the contrary, it will edify her soul,since I am presupposing that it is a lady who has a good one. You are right, my dear daughter, in renouncing all this ; believe me, these little renunciations are very agreeable to God.
Yes indeed, my dear daughter, it is certainly true ;these eternal and irrevocable renunciations, these immortal adieux which we have said to the world and to its friendships, cause some grief to our heart ; and who would not shrink under the action of this keen-edged knife cutting between, and separating, the soul and the spirit and the flesh’s heart from God’s heart, and ourselves from ourselves ? But thanks be to God the knife has been applied, and it is over.
May this great God ever strengthen more and more in us the reign of his love ! ”
Source: St. Francis de Sales, Letters to Persons in Religion