Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 24 February – Friday after Ash Wednesday, Feast of St Matthias, Apostle
“ Lord, Thou hast proved me
and known me:
Thou hast known my sitting down
and my rising up.”
“Take My yoke upon you
and learn from Me,
for I Am meek and humble of heart
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For My yoke is easy and My burden light.”
ON FASTING 3
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
“THE THIRD CONDITION NECESSARY for fasting well, is to look to God and to do everything to please Him, withdrawing within ourselves in imitation of a great Saint, St Gregory the Great, who, withdrew into a secret and out-of-the-way place, where he remained for some time without anyone knowing where he was, being content that the Lord and His Angels knew it.
This is what Cassian, that great Father of the spiritual life, teaches us so well in the book of his admirable Conferences. (Many Saints held it in such esteem that they never went to bed without reading a chapter from it to recollect their mind to God.)
He says: “What will it profit you to do what you are doing for the eyes of creatures? Nothing but vanity and complacency which are good for Hell alone. But if you keep your fast and do all your works to please God alone, you will labour for eternity, without delighting in yourself or caring whether you are seen by others or not, since what you do is not done for them, nor do you await your recompense from them. We must keep our fast with humility and truth and not with lying and hyocrisy – that is, we must fast for God and to please Him alone.” …
This is all I wish to tell you regarding fasting and what must be observed in order to fast well.
The first thing is that your fast should be entire and universal – that is that you should make all the members of your body and the powers of your soul fast – keeping your eyes lowered … mortifying the hearing and the tongue, so that you will no longer hear or speak of anything vain or useless; … the memory, in filling it with the remembrance of bitter and sorrowful things and avoiding joyous and gracious thoughts; keeping your will in check and your spirit at the foot of the Crucifix, with some holy and sorrowful thought.
If you do this, your fast will be universal, interior and exterior, for you will mortify both your body and your spirit.
The second condition is that you do not observe your fast or perform your works, for the eyes of others and the third, is that you do all your actions and consequently, your fasting, to please God alone, to Whom be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” – (Excerpt from the Sermon given for Ash Wednesday on 9 February 1622).