Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 6 March – Ecclesiasticus Sirach 51:13-17, Matthew 13:44-52 – Scripture search here: https://www.drbo.org/
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure …”
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven
is like a merchant in search of fine pearls.
When he finds a single pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
“The first difficulty seen in the question is: Can the souls of the blessed, separated from their bodies, see, hear, consider and understand? Can they, in short, exercise the functions of the mind, as freely as when they were united to their bodies?
I answer that not only can they act as before but much more perfectly. And to support this theory I shall give you a story from St Augustine, an author in whom one can place complete trust.
He relates that he was acquainted with a physician from Carthage who was as famous in Rome as in that City, both because he excelled in the art of medicine and because, he was a very good man, one who did many charitable works and served the poor gratis.
His charity towards his neighbour, moved God to lift him out of an error into which he had fallen as a young man. God always greatly favours those who practise charity toward their neighbour; indeed, there is nothing that draws down His mercy upon us more abundantly. Our Lord has declared it His own special commandment [Jn. 15:12], the one He loves and cherishes most. For after that of the love of God, there is none greater [Matt 22:37-40].
St Augustine recounts how this physician told him that when young, he began to doubt whether the soul, separated from the body, can see, hear, or understand anything.
One day, while in this error, he fell asleep. Suddenly, a handsome young man appeared to him in his sleep and said: “Follow me.”
The physician did so and his guide led him into a large and spacious field where, on one side he showed him incomparable beauties and on the other allowed him to hear a concert of delightful music.
Then the physician awoke.
Some time after, the same young man again appeared to him in sleep and asked: “Do you recognise me?” The physician answered that he did indeed recognise him distinctly, that it was he who had conducted him to the beautiful field where he had heard such pleasing music.
“But how can you see and recognise me?” asked the youth. “Where are your eyes?” “My eyes,” he replied, “are in my body.” “And where is your body?”
“My body is lying in my bed.”
“And are your eyes open or closed?”
“They are closed.”
“If they are closed, they can see nothing. Admit, then, since you see me even with your eyes closed, recognise me distinctly and have heard the music, even though your senses slept, that the functions of the mind do not depend on the corporal senses and that the soul, even when separated from the body, can nevertheless see, hear, consider and understand. ”
Then the sacred dream ended and the youth left the physician, who never after doubted this truth.” – (Sermon for the Second Sunday of Lent, 20 February 1622).