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Skip to comments.On intemperate and indiscreet zeal. (The Primary Fault of many Religion Forum posters)
Posted on 07/06/2010 6:54:33 AM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
From Abandonment to Divine Providence
Letter XI.Intemperate Zeal.
To the same person. On intemperate and indiscreet zeal.
I see, my dear Sister, that a mistaken zeal exposes you to dangers all the more serious because they are hidden under the most insidious appearances. Desire for the perfection of our neighbour is, doubtless, very good; the pain that is felt interiorly 202at the sight of his defects is good also, provided it proceeds from a pure desire for his perfection, But with all this there must needs be mingled much secret self-complacency, confidence in ones own superior light, and severity towards ones neighbour. Zeal such as this cannot, you must well understand, come from God; it is an illusion of the devil, hurtful to yourself and to others. However, the evil can be easily cured provided you are sincere enough, and submissive enough to recognise the gravity of it, and to apply the remedy. That which I am about to offer you has already produced a very happy result in a soul which was subject to the same illusion. Let us hope it will not be less efficacious in your case.
I advise you, therefore, and command you in the most sacred name of Jesus Christ, and that of His divine Mother, never more to think of practising the virtue of zeal as long as this prohibition is not expressly removed. I exculpate you before God absolutely, and I take upon myself the responsibility of all the ill consequences that may result from this prohibition. If you should get scruples about it, and the devil should put in your mind that you could do some good or avert some evil, say to God, My God, although charity is the queen of virtues, I may not practise this zeal until You have made me able to do so without detriment to the charity I owe to others and to myself. When I am found to be sufficiently strong, or rather sufficiently humble, to exercise zeal without disturbing the peace of my soul, and with all possible sweetness, compassion, and thoughtfulness for my neighbour, and a helpfulness, kindness and charity which nothing can embitter, a charity which is scandalised at nothing but its own shortcomings; with all that patience and long-suffering which enables one tranquilly to endure the defects of others, and for as long as You will suffer them, Oh, my God; and when I am neither troubled, nor uneasy, nor astonished that others are incorrigible, then this prohibition will be removed, and I shall be able to think that I can glorify You in my neighbour. But until then, Oh, my God, I must exercise my zeal on myself, in the correction of my numerous defects.
In fact, my very dear Sister, when humility has dug that deep foundation indispensable to every virtue, I shall be the first to urge you to resume the practice of zeal; until then think only of yourself. Remember that God, to punish those who have practised this indiscreet zeal, and to correct them, has often allowed them to fall into much graver faults than those which has scandalised them in others.
In the second place I command you never to speak of God, or of anything good, unless in a spirit of humility and meekness, in an amiable and gracious manner, with moderation and 203encouragement, and never with bitterness and severity, or in a way to wound and repel those who hear you, because, although you may only say what is in the Gospel and in the best books, I believe that in your present state of mind you might say it very badly and in such a way as only to do harm. Did not Satan make use of the words of Holy Scripture to tempt our Lord? Truth is the proper relation of things. It is changed when pushed to extremes, or wrongly applied. Your peevish temper is like a smoked glass, which, if you do not take care will prevent you seeing things in their true light, or showing them to others. Keep always on your guard against this fatal influence, and feed your mind on thoughts and feelings that are contrary to those inspired by temper. Entertain yourself and others with conversations on the infinite goodness of God, and on the confidence we ought to have in Him. Compel yourself to offer an example in your whole conduct, of a virtue that has no bounds, and which imposes no restraint on others. If you have nothing kind to say keep silent, and leave the care of deciding to others. They can avoid better than you too much laxness, and will be exact without being severe. If exactitude be praiseworthy, severity is blamable, it does nothing but revolt people instead of convincing them, and embitter their souls instead of gaining them. As much as true meekness, with the help of God, has power to repel evil and to win to good, so much has an excessive harshness power to make goodness difficult and evil incurable. The first is edifying, the latter, destructive.
Our Lord wants us to serve him with common sense, and the opposite is called indiscreet zeal. Coste, Vol. 1, Letter 85. St. Vincent de Paul To Saint Louise, 12 October 1631, p. 128.
The Interior Castle, by St. Teresa of Avila:
18. Do not trouble yourselves, my daughters, with cares which do not concern you. You must notice that the struggle with the demons continues through nearly all the mansions of this castle. True, in some of them, the guards, which, as I explained, are the powers of the soul, have strength for the combat, but we must be keenly on the watch against the devils's arts, lest he deceive us in the form of an angel of light. He creeps in gradually, in numberless ways, and does us much harm, though we do not discover it until too late.
19. As I said elsewhere, he works like a file, secretly and silently wearing its way: I will give you some examples to show how he begins his wiles. For instance: a nun has such a longing for penance as to feel no peace unless she is tormenting herself in some way. This is good in itself; but suppose that the Prioress has forbidden her to practise any mortifications without special leave, and the sister thinking that, in such a meritorious cause, she may venture to disobey, secretly leads such a life that she loses her health and cannot even fulfil the requirements of her rule--you see how this show of good ends. Another nun is very zealous about religious perfection; this is very right, but may cause her to think every small fault she sees in her sisters a serious crime, and to watch constantly whether they do anything wrong, that she may run to the Prioress to accuse them of it. At the same time, may be she never notices her own shortcomings because of her great zeal about other people's religious observance, while perhaps her sisters, not seeing her intention but only knowing of the watch she keeps on them, do not take her behaviour in good part.
20. The devil's chief aim here is to cool the charity and lessen the mutual affection of the nuns, which would injure them seriously. Be sure, my daughters, that true perfection consists in the love of God and our neighbour, and the better we keep both these commandments, the more perfect we shall be. The sole object of our Rule and Constitutions is to help us to observe these two laws.
21. Indiscreet zeal about others must not be indulged in; it may do us much harm; let each one look to herself. How ever, as I have spoken fully on this subject elsewhere, I will not enlarge on it here, and will only beg you to remember the necessity of this mutual affection. Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people's if we are always criticizing trivial actions which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through ignorance of their motives. See how much it costs to attain perfection! Sometimes the devil tempts nuns in this way about the Prioress, which is still more dangerous. Great prudence is then required, for if she disobeys the Rule or Constitutions the matter must not always be overlooked, but should be mentioned to her; if, after this, she does not amend, the Superior of the Order should be informed of it. It is true charity to speak in this case, as it would be if we saw our sisters commit a grave fault; to keep silence for fear that speech would be a temptation against charity, would be that very temptation itself.
22. However, I must warn you seriously not to talk to each other about such things, lest the devil deceive you. He would gain greatly by your doing so, because it would lead to the habit of detraction; rather, as I said, state the matter to those whose duty it is to remedy it. Thank God our custom here of keeping almost perpetual silence gives little opportunity for such conversations, still, it is well to stand ever on our guard.
The Spiritual Combat - by Father Dom Lorenzo Scupoli
How to resist the devil when he seeks to delude us by means of indiscreet zeal
When our cunning adversary perceives that we are walking right onward in the path of holiness with fervent yet well-regulated desires, being unable to draw us aside by open allurements, he transforms himself into an angel of light; and by suggestions of seeming friendship, sentences from Scripture, and examples of saints, importunately urges us to aspire indiscreetly to the height of perfection, that so he may cause us to fall headlong from thence. To this end he encourages us to chastise the body with great severity, by fasts, disciplines, hair-shirts, and other similar mortifications, that he may either tempt us to pride by the thought that we are doing great things, which is a temptation that especially besets women, or that we may fall sick, and so be disabled from the exercise of good works; or else that from pain and over-weariness we may take a disgust and abhorrence to spiritual exercises, and thus by degrees grow cold in the way of godliness, and at last give ourselves up with greater avidity than before to worldly pleasures and amusements. This has been the end of many, who, following presumptuously the impulse of an indiscreet zeal, have in their excessive outward austerities gone beyond the measure of their interior virtue; and so have perish ed in their own inventions, and become the sport of malicious fiends. This would not have befallen them had they well considered what we have been saying, and remembered that these acts of painful self-discipline, praiseworthy as they are and profitable to such as have corresponding strength of body and humility of spirit, must yet be proportioned to each man's state and condition.
And those who are unequal to labor with the saints in similar austerities, may find other opportunities of imitating their lives by strong and effectual desires and fervent prayers, aspiring after the most glorious crown of Christ's true soldier by despising the whole world and themselves also; by giving themselves up to solitude and silence; by meekness and humility towards all men; by patience under wrongs; by doing good to those most opposed to them; and by avoiding every fault, however trivial it may be; things far more acceptable to God than painful bodily exercises. With regard to these, I would have you to be rather discreetly sparing, in order to be able, if necessary, to increase them, than by certain excesses of zeal to run the risk of having to relinquish them altogether. I say this to you, being well assured you are not likely to fall into the error of those who, though they pass for spiritual, are enticed and deluded by deceitful nature into an over-anxious care for the preservation of their bodily health. So jealous are they, and fearful of the slightest thing which might affect it, that they live in constant doubt and fear of losing it. There is nothing of which they better love to think and speak than of the ordering of their lives in this respect. Hence they are ever solicitous to have food suited rather to their palate than their stoma ch, which is often weakened by over-delicacy. And though all this is done on the pretext of gaining strength the better to serve God, it is in fact but a vain attempt to conciliate two mortal enemies, the spirit and the flesh; an attempt which injures both instead of benefiting either; for this same over-carefulness impairs the health of the one and the devotion of the other.
A certain degree of freedom in our way of life is therefore safer and more profitable; accompanied, however, by the discretion of which I have spoken, having regard to different constitutions and states of life, which cannot all be brought under the same rule.
In the pursuit of interior holiness, as well as of exterior devotion, we should proceed with moderation, as has been shown before on the subject of the gradual acquisition of virtues.
The Spiritual Guide, Which leads the Soul to the fruition of Internal Peace. The Second Book. by Miguel de Molinos
The Indiscreet Zeal of Souls, and the disordinate Love of our Neighbour, disturb internal Peace.
13. There is not a more acceptable Sacrifice to God (says St. Gregory, In Ezechiel,1 Hom.12) than the ardent Zeal of Soul: For that Ministry, the Eternal God sent his own Jesus Christ into the World, and ever since it hath been the most noble and sublime of Offices. But if the Zeal be indiscreet, it brings a notable obstacle to the progress of the Spirit.
14. No sooner does thou find in thy self any new and fervent light, but thou wouldst lay thy self wholly out for the good of Souls; and in the mean time, its odds, but that that is self-love, which thou takest to be pure zeal. This uses sometime to put on a garb of a disordinate Desire, of a vain complacency, of an industrious affection and proper esteem; all Enemies to the peace of the Soul.
15. It is never good to love thy Neighbour to the detriment of thine own spiritual good. To please God in purity, ought to be the only scope of thy Works; this ought to be thy only desire and thought; endeavouring to moderate thy disordinate fervour; that tranquillity and internal peace may reign in thy Soul. The true zeal of Souls, which thou oughtest to strive for, should be the true love of thy God. That is the fruitful, efficacious, and true zeal, which doth wonders in Souls, though with dumb Voices.
16. St. Paul (I Tim. 4.) recommended to us first the care of our own Souls, before that of our Neighbour. Take heed unto thy self, and unto thy Doctrine, said he in his Canonical Epistle. Struggle not to over do, for when it is time convenient, and thou canst be any way useful to thy Neighbour; God will call thee forth, and put thee in the employment that will best suit with thee: That thought belongs only to him, and to thee, to continue in thy rest, disengaged, and wholly resigned up to the Divine will and pleasure. Dont think that in that condition thou art idle: He is busied enough, who is always ready waiting to perform the Will of God. Who takes heed to himself for Gods sake, does every thing; because, one pure Act of internal Resignation, is more worth than a hundred thousand Exercises for ones own Will.
17. Though the Cistern be capable to contain much Water, yet it must still be without it, till Heaven favour it with Rain. Be at rest, blessed Soul be quiet, humble and resigned, to every thing that God shall be pleased to do with thee, leave the care to God, for he as a Loving Father, knows best what is convenient for thee; conform thy self totally to his Will, perfection being founded in that, inasmuch as he who doeth the will of the Lord, is (Mat. 12.) his Mothers Son, and Brother of the Son of God himself.
18. Think not that God esteemeth him most, that doeth most. He is most beloved who is most humble, most faithful and resigned, and most correspondent to his own Internal Inspiration, and to the Divine will and pleasure.
A Sequel to the Same.
19. Let all thy desires be conform to the Will of that God, who can bring streams of Water out of the dry Rock, who is much displeased with those Souls, which in helping others before the time, defraud themselves, suffer ing themselves to be transported by indiscreet zeal, and vain complacency.
20. As it was with the Servant of Elisha, who (2Kings, c.4.) being sent by the Prophet, that with his Staff he might raise a dead Child; because of the complacency he had, it had not the effect, and he was reproved by Elisha. In like manner the Sacrifice of Cain was rejected, being the first that was offered to God in the World, through the vain-glory he had of being the first, and more than his own Father Adam, in offering Sacrifice to God.
21. In like manner the Disciples of our Lord Christ, were infected with that evil, feeling a vain joy, when they cast out Devils, and therefore were sharply reproved by their Heavenly Master. Before Paul Preached to the Gentiles the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, being already a chosen Vessel, a Citizen of Heaven, and chosen of God for that Ministry, it was necessary to try and humble him, shutting him up in close Prison; and wouldst thou become a Preacher without passing through the Tryal of Men and Devils? And couldst thou thrust thy self into so great a Ministry, and produce Fruit, without passing through the fiery tryal of temptation, tribulation, and passive purgation?
22. It concerns thee more to be quiet and resigned in a holy case, than to do many and great things, by thy own judgment and opinion; think not that the heroick Actions which great Saints have done, and do in the Church, are Works of their own Industry; for all things as well spiritual as temporal, to the shaking of the last Leaf, are by Divine Providence Decreed from all Eternity. He that does the Will of God, does all things; this thy Soul ought to endeavour, resting in a perfect Resignation to whatever the Lord is pleased to dispose of thee; acknowledg thy self unworthy of so high a Ministry, as the guiding of Souls to Heaven, and then thoult put no obstacle to the rest, internal peace, and heavenly flight of thy Soul.
from The Art of Mental Prayer By Reverend Bede Frost
Impatience with others, which in beginners in the spiritual life often excites an indiscreet zeal for their reformation, is fraught with danger to the soul. The only way of reforming others is to begin with ourselves. 'For their sakes I sanctify myself.' Our impatient zeal is often no more than the product of self-love, which is hurt because others do not go our way or come up to our standard.
The Devil, says St. Theresa, works like a file, and one of his wiles is to turn our zeal for perfection into a watch upon others, with the result not only that we become blind to our own shortcomings, but vitiate and harm those who resent our behavior (The Interior Castle, M.I., chap ii, 20, 21).
It would seem almost impossible that we should be impatient with God, yet it is very common. We get tired of walking by faith; 'impatience for vision,' says Coventry Patmore, 'is one of the last faults to be cured'; we complain because our prayers are not answered to the minute, or that our finely woven schemes do not attain their purpose; we lapse into despondency because God acts so slowly, and seems so often to take little notice of our feverish activity, except to reveal its sterility.
No virtue is more necessary both to our interior life and to our exterior activity than patience, and we shall only gain it from much dwelling in the quietness of the 'God of Patience.' 'Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him.' 'For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at last it shall speak and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it.' Nature is all for seeing, doing, accomplishing, but 'My ways are not your ways' is one of the first necessary lessons of the spiritual life, and 'he that believeth shall not make haste'; 'they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.' Impatience is ever a shirking of the real thing, a get ting out of tune with the purposes of God, a missing of the beat, which all comes, as says Plotinus, 'from not looking at the Conductor in the midst and keeping time with Him,' for 'He shall keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.'
From SPIRITUAL MAXIMS by John Nicholas Grou S.J.
...And thus it is, too, with many men. They are active, bustling busybodies; meddling in everything under the pretext of serving God; fancying that the Church depends on them. They concern themselves with the affairs of others, and neglect their own. Even some priests are not entirely exempt from these and similar faults. They are zealous, but, as St. Paul says, not according to knowledge. [ ] They allow their natural activity full rein, and because their ministry is spread over many objects insinuate themselves into everything and imagine that all good works must pass through their hands, otherwise they will not succeed. They are for ever coming and going, and the day is not long enough for all they have to do. They even borrow from the night, and leave themselves barely time to say their office.
I am not saying this in a spirit of criticism: nothing is further from my wish. But how can I do otherwise than lament over such an evil as this, which is so harmful to the cause of religion? I am not calling into question the intention: that I well believe to be right and good. Nor do I blame the objects in view, which are also good, since they concern the worship of God and the welfare of men. But how can one rejoice to see the order of duty reversed, and works of supererogation take precedence over duties of obligation? Who can excuse that mistaken piety which looks merely to externals, counts the inner spirit as nothing, and neglects God's primary laws?
The spirit of the inner life follows quite another course, and inspires ideas the very opposite of what I have been describing. It teaches all who yield to its guidance that their first duty is the sanctification of their own souls, and that Christian sanctity consists primarily in the fulfilment of the du ties of one's state. These are indispensable. The very end of devotion is the obtaining of such graces as are necessary for their fulfilment, and it can never, therefore, be a reason for neglecting them. On the contrary, true piety allows such time only for prayer as can lawfully be spared from duties of obligation. In all religious exercises not of strict obligation, it bids us accommodate ourselves to the wishes and frailties of those whom we are bound to consider, and, for the sake of peace, to sacrifice our own tastes, be they never so pious.
The inward spirit also reminds us that we must only undertake good works such as are left to our discretion, in so far as they do not encroach on our spirit of recollection. Should they even begin to make inroads thereon and dissipate us ever so little, we must absolutely give them up, or put them off until another time when we shall not run the same risk. In all such circumstances, it is best not to act on our own but take sound advice before acting, or wait until God sends the occasion. We must also be on our guard against our natural activity and ardour, and all indiscreet zeal which would have us take on far more than we can manage, so that there remains no time for prayer, and for the duties of our state, which are always the first of all good works.
The true interior spirit also teaches those who are charged with the sacred ministry that the care of souls should be limited to spiritual matters, and only extended to temporal things when charity requires it of them, and then with much reserve and circumspection, lest these should prove harmful to themselves or lessen in the minds of others the reverence due to their sacred office.
Such has ever been the mind of the Church from earliest times. The apostles were the first to set an example in this matter by appointing deacons to see to the needs of the poor, reserving to themselves the duty of prayer and the ministry of the word. [ ] In whatever time remains over from the administration of the sacraments, from preaching, the direction of souls, visiting the sick and other similar duties, the primary duty of priests should be prayer, the reading of sacred books and other studies proper to their state. They ought to concern themselves in temporal affairs only in so far as they are a matter of conscience, by pointing out the rules which should be followed so as not to offend against justice or charity, and to maintain or re-establish unity and peace. In the matter of good works or works of mercy, they should, if possible, confine themselves to directing affairs, committing the carrying out of them to those well qualified to do so. Otherwise, apart from losing time, they will lay themselves open to complaints, murmurings, and sometimes unworthy suspicions. The closer they live in intimate union with God, the better will they serve the cause of religion and procure the salvation of souls, the greater authority and consideration will they possess, and their reputation will remain intact and their good name respected.
All this would be taught by the spirit of the interior life, if men sought its guidance with a pure intention. Thus it taught St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Francis of Sales, and every other saint and doctor of the Church throughout the ages, and those most zealous for the greater glory of God and the good of souls.
I found these excerpts on the Rerum Novarum blog:
But if you have bitter zeal and there be contentions in your heart, glory not and be not liars against the truth: for this is not wisdom descending from above, but earthly, sensual, diabolical. (St. James, Cath. Ep., c. iii vv.14 and 15.)
For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God. (St. James, Cath. Ep., c. i., v. 20.)
1. Zeal for the salvation of souls is a sublime virtue, and yet how many errors and sins are committed daily in its name! Evil is never done more effectually and with greater security, says St. Francis de Sales, than when one does it believing he is working for the glory of God.
2. The saints themselves can be mistaken in this delicate matter. We see a proof of this in the incident related to the Apostles Saint James and Saint John; for Our Lord reprimanded them for asking Him to cause fire from heaven to fall upon the Samaritans. (Luke, IX., 54.)
3. Acts of zeal are like coins the stamp upon which is necessary to examine attentively, as there are more counterfeits than good ones. Zeal to be pure should be accompanied by great humility, for it is of all virtues the one which self-love most easily glides. When it does so, zeal is apt to become imprudent, presumptuous, unjust, bitter. Let us consider these characteristics in detail, viewing them, for the sake of greater clearness, in their practical bearings.
4. In every home there grows some thorn, something, in other words, that needs correction; for the best soil is seldom without its noxious weed. Imprudent zeal, by seeking awkwardly to pluck out the thorn, often succeeds only in plunging it farther in, thus rendering the wound deeper and more painful. In such a case it is essential to act with reflection and great prudence. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent, says the Holy Spirit. (Ecclesiastes III., 7.) Prudent zeal is silent when it realizes that to be so is less hurtful than to speak.
5. Some persons are even presumptuous enough in their mistaken zeal to meddle in the domestic affairs of strange families, blaming, counselling, attempting to reform without measure and discretion, thus causing an evil much greater than the one they wish to correct. Let us employ the activity of our zeal in our own reformation, says Saint Bernard, and pray humbly for that of others. It is great presumption on our part thus to assume the role of apostles when we are not as yet faithful disciples. Not that you should be be by any means indifferent to the salvation to souls: on the contrary you must wish it most ardently, but do not undertake to effect it except with great prudence, humility, and diffidence in self.
6. Again there are pious persons whose zeal consists in wis hing to make everyone adopt their particular practices of devotion. Such a one, if she have a special attraction for meditating on the Passion of our divine Lord or for visiting the Blessed Sacrament, would like to oblige every one, under pain of reprobation, to pass long hours prostrate before the crucifix or the tabernacle. Another who is especially devoted to visiting the poor and the sick and to the other works of corporeal mercy, acknowledges no piety apart from these excellent practices. Now, this is not an enlightened zeal. Martha and Mary were sisters, says Saint Augustine, but they have not a like office: one acts the other contemplates. If both had passed the day in contemplation, no one would have prepared a repast for their divine Master; if both had been employed in this material work, there would have been no one to listen to His words and garner up His divine lessons. The same may be said of other good works. In choosing among them each person should follow the inspirations of God's grace, and these are very varied. The eye that sees but hears not, must neither envy nor blame the ear that hears but sees not. Omnis spiritus laudet Dominum: let every spirit praise the Lord, says the royal prophet. (Ps. CL, 5.)
7. Bear well in mind that the zeal which would lead you to undertake works not in conformity with your position, however good and useful they may be in themselves, is always a false one. This is especially true if such cause us interior trouble or annoyance; for the holiest things are infallibly displeasing to God when they do not accord with the duties of our state in life.
8. Saint Paul condemned in strong terms those Christians who showed a too exclusive preference for their spiritual masters; some admitting as truth only what came from the mouth of Peter, others acknowledging none save Paul, and others again none but Apollo. What! said he to them, is not Jesus Christ the same for all of you! Is it then Paul who was crucified for you? Is it in his name that you were baptized? (St. Paul, i Cor. i., 13.) This culpable weakness is often reproduced in our day. Persons otherwise pious carry to excess the esteem and affection they have for their spiritual directors, exalt without measure their wisdom and holiness, and do not scruple to deprecate all others. God alone knows the true value of each human being, and we have not the scales of the sanctuary to weigh and compare the respective wisdom and sanctity of this or that person. If you have a good confessor, thank God and try to render his wisdom useful to you by your docility in allowing yourself to be guided; but do not assume that nobody else has as good a one. To deprecate the merits of some in order to exalt those of others at their expense is a sort of slander, that ought to be all the more feared because it is generally so little recognized. [Fr. R.P. Quadrupani: Light and Peace - Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears pgs. 153-158 (c. 1795)]
9. "If your zeal is bitter", says St. James, "it is not wisdom descending from on high, but earthly, sensual, diabolical". (James III, 14-15.) These words of an Apostle should furnish matter of reflection for those persons who, whilst making profession of piety, are so prone to irritability, so harsh and rude in their manner and language, that they might be taken for angels in church and for demons elsewhere.
10. The value and utility of zeal are in proportion to its tolerance and amiability. True zeal is the offspring of charity; it should then, resemble its mother and show itself like to her in all things. "Charity", says St. Paul, "is patient, is kind, is not ambitious, and seeks not her own." (1 Cor. XIII, 4-5.)
You should not only be devout and love devotion, but you ought to make your piety useful, agreeable, and charming to everybody. The sick will like your spirituality if they are lovingly consoled by it; your family, if they find that it makes you more thoughtful of their welfare, gentler in everyday affairs, more amiable in reproving, and so on; your husband, if he sees that in proportion as your devotion increases you become more cordial and tender in your affection for him; your relations and your friends, if they find you more forebearing and ready to comply with their wishes, should these not be contrary to God's will. Briefly, you must try as far as possible to make your devotion attractive to others; that is true zeal". - St. Francis de Sales.
11. Never allow your zeal to make you overeager to correct others, says the same Saint; and when you do it remember that the most important thing to consider is the choice of the moment. A caution deferred can be given another time: one given inopportunely is not only fruitless, but moreover paralyzes beforehand all the good that might have have subsequently been done.
12. Be zealous therefore, ardently zealous for the salvation of your neighbour, and to further make use of whatever means God has placed in your power; but do not exceed these limits nor disquiet yourself about the good you are unable to do, for God can accomplish it through others. In conclusion, zeal according to the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, should always have truth for its foundation, indulgence for its companion, mildness for its guide, prudence for its counsellor and director.
"I must look upon whatever presents itself each day to be done, in order that Divine Providence, as the work God wishes me to do, and apply myself in a manner worthy of Him, that is, with exactness and tranquillity. I shall neglect nothing, be anxious about nothing; as it is dangerous to do God's work negligently or to appropriate it to one's self through self-love and false zeal. When our actions are prompted by our inclinations,we do them badly and are pretentious, restless, and anxious to succeed. The glory of God is the pretext that hides the illusion. Self-love disguised as zeal grieves and frets if it cannot succeed. Oh my God! give me the grace to be faithful in action, indifferent to success. My part is to will what Thou willest and to keep myself recollected in Thee amidst all my occupations: Thine is to give to my feeble efforts such fruit as shall please Thee - none if Thou so wishest." - Fenelon. [Fr. R. P. Quadrupini: excerpts from his spiritual instruction "Light and Peace - Instructions for Devout Souls" pgs. 158-161 (c. 1795)]
Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled by many things. (St. Luke, c. x, v. 41.) Always active, always at rest. (St. Augustine.) Be on your guard lest your zeal degenerate into anxiety and eagerness. St. Francis de Sal es was a most pronounced enemy of these two defects. They cause us to lose sight of God in our actions and make us very prone to impatience if the slightest obstacle should interfere with our designs. It is only by acting peacefully that we can serve the God of peace in an acceptable manner.
"Do not suffer our peace to be disturbed by precipitation in our exterior actions. When our bodies or our minds are engaged in any work, we should perform it peacefully and with composure, not prescribing for ourselves a definite time to finish it, nor being too anxious to see it completed." - Scrupoli
Martha was engaged in a good work when she prepared a respite for our divine Lord, nevertheless He reproved her because she performed it with anxiety and agitation. This goes to show, says St. Francis de Sales, that it is not enough to do good, the good must moreover be done well, that is to say, with love and tranquility. If one turns the spinning-wheel too rapidly it falls and the thread breaks.
Whenever we are doing well we are always doing enough and doing it sufficiently fast. Those persons who are restless and impetuous do not accomplish any more and what they do is done badly.
St. Francis de Sales was never seen in a hurry no matter how varied or numerous might be the demands on his time. When on a certain occasion some surprise was expressed at this he said: "You ask me how it is that although others are agitated and flurried I am not likewise uneasy and in haste. What would you? I was not put in this world to cause fresh disturbance: is there not enough of it already without my adding to it by my exciteability?"
However, do not on the other hand succumb to sloth and indifference. All extremes are to be avoided. Cultivate a tranquil activity and an active tranquillity.
In order to acquire tranquillity in action it is necessary to consider carefully what we are able to accomplish and never to undertake more then that. It is self-love, ever more anxious to do much than is to do well, which urges us on to burden ourselves with great undertakings and to impose upon ourselves numerous obligations. It maintains and nourishes itself on this tension of mind, this restless anxiety which it takes for infallible signs of a superior capacity. Thus St. Francis de Sales was wont to say: "Our self-love is a great braggart, that wishes to undertake everything and accomplishes nothing".
"It appears to me that you are over eager and anxious in the pursuit of perfection...Now I tell you truthfully, as it is said in the Book of Kings [III Kings, C. XIX], that God is not in the great and strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the gentle movement of an almost imperceptable breeze.....Anxiety and agitation contribute nothing towards success. The desire of success is good, but only if it be accompanied by solicitude. I expressly forbid you to give way to inquietude, for it is the mother of all imperfections.....Peace is necessary in all things and everywhere. If any trouble come to us, either of an interior or exterior nature, we should receive it peacefully: if joy be ours, it should be received peacefully: have we to flee from evil, we should do it peacefully, otherwise we may fall in our flight and thus give our enemy a chance to kill us. Is there a good work to be done? We must do it peacefully, or else we shall commit many faults by our hastiness: and even regards penance, - that too must be done peacefully: Behold, said the prophet, in peace is my bitterness most bitter. (Isaiah.) [Fr. R.P. Quadrupani: Light and Peace - Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears pgs. 112-115 (c. 1795)]
"How often we wish that God would show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exa ctly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity.
We suffer on account of Gods patience. And yet,we need his patience.
God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man."
--From the Homily of the Inauguration Mass of Pope Benedict XVI, 24 April 2005.
True zeal consists in doing the duties of our state in life:
Providence, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange summarizes Self-Abandonment To Providence (emphasis added):
Why we should abandon ourselves to divine providence
The answer of every Christian will be that the reason lies in the wisdom and goodness of Providence. This is very true; nevertheless, if we are to have a proper understanding of the subject, if we are to avoid the error of the Quietists in renouncing more or less the virtue of hope and the struggle necessary for salvation, if we are to avoid also the other extreme of disquiet, precipitation, and a feverish, fruitless agitation, it is expedient for us to lay down four principles already somewhat accessible to natural reason and clearly set forth in revelation as found in Scripture. These principles underlying the true doctrine of self-abandonment, also bring out the motive inspiring it.
These first three principle s may therefore be summed up in this way: Nothing comes to pass but God has foreseen it, willed it or at least permitted it. He wills nothing, permits nothing, unless for the manifestation of His goodness and infinite perfections, for the glory of His Son, and the welfare of those that love Him. In view of these three principles, it is evident that our trust in Providence cannot be too childlike, too steadfast. Indeed, we may go further and say that this trust in Providence should be blind as is our faith, the object of which is those mysteries that are non-evident and unseen (fides est de non visis) for we are certain beforehand that Providence is directing all things infallibly to a good purpose, and we are more convinced of the rectitude of His designs than we are of the best of our own intentions. Therefore, in abandoning ourselves to God, all we have to fear is that our submission will not be wholehearted enough. 
In view of Quietism, however, this last sentence obliges us to lay down a fourth principle no less certain than the principles that have preceded. The principle is, that obviously self-abandonment does not dispense us from doing everything in our power to fulfil God's will as made known in the commandments and counsels, and in the events of life; but so long as we have the sincere desire to carry out His will thus made known from day to day, we can and indeed we must abandon ourselves for the rest to the divine will of good pleasure, no matter how mysterious it may be, and thus avoid a useless disquiet and mere agitation. 
...All theologians explain what is meant by the divine will as expressed: expressed, that is, in the commandments, in the spirit underlying the counsels, and in the events of life.  They add that, while conforming ourselves to His expressed will,  we must abandon ourselves to His divine will of good pleasure, however mysterious it may be, for we are certain beforehand that in its holiness it wills nothing, permits nothing, unless for a good purpose.
Case in point: I prefer my french fries with steak sauce or ketchup.
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LOL. It is ‘fry sauce’ all the way for me (Utah habit).
And, Quix, I empathize with you, I don’t have dentures (I have full implants b/c of my age) but it took me awhile to relearn how to eat things and I was cranky too.
And tasty too ... with a nice mint sauce.
You would hope and pray that were the case, but sadly it is not. I too often see those who would rather live a comfortable lie than face the uncomfortable (and often painful) truth.
It is not the presenter that offends it is the word of God that offends
Oh, really? There are those who make a peculiar claim about God being utterly singular, and about a guy named "Mohammed" being a prophet. I find their message inherently offensive. Deeply so.
Is their message, therefore, true?
Jesus never compromised or softened His words Does this offend you? (John 6:61).
Um ... yes, indeed. John 6 is one of the reasons I'm Catholic. But I understand that some folks found (and find) it offensive.
The concern is not how you think other people will receive the message, but being faithful to deliver it..
Nonsense. In John 6, Christ delivered His message in a completely inoffensive manner ... which is more than can be said of many folk on pseudonymous internet forums. If you wish to find examples of Christ delivering His message in an ascerbic manner, you'll have to look elsewhere. (They do exist. Even in John's Gospel.)
While I fail to see any relevance in your quote from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians, I think this passage is addresses this topic excellently:
1 Corinthians 9:
19For whereas I was free as to all, I made myself the servant of all, that I might gain the more. 20And I became to the Jews, a Jew, that I might gain the Jews: 21To them that are under the law, as if I were under the law, (whereas myself was not under the law,) that I might gain them that were under the law. To them that were without the law, as if I were without the law, (whereas I was not without the law of God, but was in the law of Christ,) that I might gain them that were without the law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all. 23And I do all things for the gospel's sake: that I may be made partaker thereof.
It says nothing of taking on an offensive manner, but rather of taking on a manner appropriate to each situation.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..."(Romans 1:16). What is the gospel of Christ?
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved".(Romans 10:9) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13).
Is this part of the Gospel of the Kingdom?
Certainly not everyone who claims to be ‘preaching the gospel’ is preaching what I think is the Gospel. In fact, what many folks preach who claim to be ‘preaching the gospel’ is contrary to what I think is the Gospel. A third party, trying to discern who is preaching the correct Gospel might have many criteria by which to judge. I suggest that offensiveness, whether of the preacher or the message, is a poor criterion for such judgment.
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And that would be the wrong criteria. It isn’t what you or I THINK, it is what the Bible says.
And your non answer spoke volumes. I honestly don’t care if you think I am arrogant or not, I only care what Christ thinks. I preach to please HIM not you or any other man.
In the case of spiritual matters the line was drawn at the foot of the cross and throughout the new testament as related by the Apostles and others.
The writing and words of man that toe that line are often wise and worthy of our acknowledgment and study. Those that cross it are fallacious at best, acutely heretical at worse...
I tend to agree with you, svcw
A more typical example of "intemperate" (I would have chosen the term "overwought") that really does get posted in this forum, might be:
are we seeing . . . some Jr High sociology/psychology experiment wherein
some characters with little to no experience in the topics concerned . . . & negligible, IF ANY, understanding . . .
decide to see
HOW MUCH, HOW HIGH,
they can pile on
MEAN-NESS, ARROGANCE, cluelessness & SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS PUREED WITH ABSURDITY
all perhaps to just see how big a chorus of naysayers they can get to join the rabid fault-finding alley cat garbage can chorus.
All without a clue as to the spirit such stuff erupts out of, operates in . . . and certainly no clue about HARVEST TIME . . . in Maya Angelous words.
The constant demonization and misrepresentation of Mormons has already poisoned millions of minds in the US and elsewhere. Just as the propaganda against the Jews resulted in the Holocaust in Europe, Mormons are a non-Christian cult is the first step into portraying us as foreigners or outsiders that will lead to another Holocaust if the thin restraint of our civilization disappears.
Why not just get it over and done with and start killing us Mormons just because we believe differently than you? After all, wouldnt the world be a better place without us cultists?
The current propaganda against us will lead in that direction. So-called Christians will once again butcher the outsiders in the name of God. Ive no doubt if the United States suffers a civilizational collapse that areas with large Evangelical and Baptist populations will resort to exterminating Mormons, and other undesirables like Jehovahs Witnesses, thinking theyre doing God a favor.
The old, Well, we never told anyone to kill them is a pathetic excuse since the poison and hatred towards Mormons was planted long ago in their hearts to their everlasting condemnation.
It never ceases to amaze me how many FR RF posters fail to provide actual examples of the kind of "intemperance," "intolerance," or wrongful deprivation of there "right to worship" they say exists in these threads.
Pro'ly because of loads of innate temperance.
Nah, I just leave it to the ‘biggies’ - Person, work and Nature of Christ Jesus and the statements of the Apostles creed. Most Christian churches agree on those.
I minister to the LDS, those are the fish I fry. Most of my friends are of various denoms (even the flying inmans here) and we all consider ourselves brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of our differing denominations.
Also, i have spent years going through denominational differences becasuse your statement is a very common objection the LDS bring up to ‘prove’ Mormonism is true, so I have to have some background.
IMO, the term “offense” and all of its psuedonyms is purely relative. It’s an emotional response to a comment, not a rational or analytical one.
It’s all in how the receiver perceives the message and the messenger.
There will be those who read something seeking to find offense instead of reading to gain knowledge. And there are those who enter into the fray with preconceived notions about the intentions or motives of the poster based on posting history or reputation. Some are well deserved, but it can be used to taint others who give the appearance of or directly support the claim/information of the poster.
No benefit of the doubt is given to the poster, they’re considered a “hater, bigot, lout, etc., etc” because they’ve posted something contrary to what the receiver expects or is accustomed to.
I don’t believe there is any “safe” ground or position from which to posit or opine.
Someone is going to find a way to be “offended”.
Good thing you are Buddhist and not Hindu. ;)
What does the Bible say? Look around what passes for Christendom these days, and you'll find numerous contradictory answers to that question. How is a third party to distinguish one from another, to find the "correct" message of the Bible in the competing fray of contradictions? By mere offensiveness?
I honestly dont care if you think I am arrogant or not
Again, I have accused you of nothing. Furthermore, my particular beliefs are of precious little interest on this thread; I'm far more interested in the topic of how beliefs are presented, whether or not misrepresentation of other folks' beliefs is acceptable, to what extent humility should be a characteristic of Christian witness, and the extent to which folks should take care that they themselves are behaving as Christ would have them, rather than worrying about others' behaviour.
Christ delivered His message in a completely inoffensive manner
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you are kidding right? He offended the ‘religious’ of His constantly.
Elsie, I believe you have the verses for this ‘objection’?
Also, your statement that Islam must be true because it offends you is a straw man. Just because something is offensive does not make it true. That, however, DOES NOT CHANGE that the Gospel message is offensive. It is offensive to our comfortable natural sinful way of living. It knocks us off the throne we put ourselves on and finds us groveling at the foot of the Cross. The CONTENT of the message is what is offensive.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth". (2Timothy 2:15).
Well said, brother. Your words always have a way of keeping me in check and for that I thank you.
I have noticed that the most irritating people feel surrounded by irritable people. They seem incapable of realizing that they are the root cause.
Now that we've gored a Hindu ox we'd better throw some more briquettes on the fire. lol
I have gotten used to it..no viable response then some posters mock ..
It is an honor to be a fool for Christ
No, actually, I'm not kidding. Not in the slightest. Re-read John 6. Go ahead, do it.
OK. Now that it's fresh in your mind ... The message clearly offended some (but not all), and Christ certainly did not back down. But there's nothing, it seems to me, in His manner of presenting it that seems offensive. He might as well have been discussing potato chips, for as inoffensive as His manner was. There certainly were occasions where He took on an offensive manner ("You brood of vipers ..."), but those were the minority.
Also, your statement that Islam must be true because it offends you is a straw man. ... The CONTENT of the message is what is offensive.
Sorry, but your final paragraph is a contradiction of itself.
I never heard it that way around. I have only heard, “From your lips to God’s ears,” meaning, of course, “May God hear and grant your prayer.”
On the other hand, quite a number of them are quite clear on who (according to them) is not part of the True Church.
And even if you suggest otherwise -- is there any other way to explain the many, many schisms within protestantism without some reference to specific beliefs about "true" vs. "false" churches? Why would a schism occur, if not because of some perception that my take on the true church is correct, whereas yours is not?
Are such divisions "of God?" I don't think so. Rather, I think they're manifestations of human pridefulness. Even when one is right, and believes all the right things, there are still wrong and sinful ways of trying to express it.
Heck, even Moses fell into that trap, and in consequence was not allowed into the promised land.
I've learned the hard way about the need for humility when dealing with disagreements over church matters. That includes debate on religious topics.
Did I use the word “shun”? Or did I say I am not obliged to love everyone?
Thee: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth". (2Timothy 2:15).
And ... what? An ill considered interpretation of that passage has resulted in the competing fray of contradictions. Would you simply have our hypothetical "third party" add his voice to the babble? Again, how is he to judge? By offensiveness? By some other means?
Please, be specific.
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishess:but unto us which ARE saved, it is the power of God." (1 Cor. 1:18).
Whatever that means -- it's a new one on me. I tend to lose track of all the trendy little epithets folks come up with to dehumanize those with whom they disagree.
I certainly try to avoid arguing on the basis of those epithets.
I remember that EW post. He hasn’t been around much anymore. He was kinda fun.
Maybe Just a beggar showing others where to find the bread. We are all of us sinners saved by grace
By realizing that the Word of Truth can and must be divided. this is not truth from lies, it is truth from truth. The Gospel of the Kingdom was a truth. The Gospel of the Grace of God is a truth. They are not the same. what happened? Something changed. Where is the division between the two? do you want me to answer or do you want to think about it and answer?
The problem being, of course, that what the Bible says, is not always clear -- well-meaning people disagree, often vehemently, over the meaning and application of this or that passage of Scripture.
At which point, unfortunately, "what you or I THINK", begins to matter quite a lot.
What criteria do you propose, for deciding between those different points of view?
From Alex.. Wow - I just learned something new about Quix! It's learning about each other's differences (both big and small) that makes and keeps the Religion Forum constantly interesting, engaging and entertaining.
Case in point: I prefer my french fries with steak sauce or ketchup.
How funny..thanks for the LOL min
To Quix.. let us know when ya get to corn on the cob :) Good luck!
This “trendy little epithet” that you so cheekily ignore was given to Paul, by Christ. It gets you on the other side of the Cross.
"Christ delivered His message in a completely inoffensive manner".
In fact, I wrote:
"Nonsense. In John 6, Christ delivered His message in a completely inoffensive manner ... which is more than can be said of many folk on pseudonymous internet forums. If you wish to find examples of Christ delivering His message in an ascerbic manner, you'll have to look elsewhere. (They do exist. Even in John's Gospel.)"
I think it's fairly obvious that your excerpt of what I wrote changes its meaning dramatically. I think it's fairly obvious that distorting the meaning of what somebody else wrote is poor behaviour, and reflects very badly on the distorter.
In WNY or southern Ont ,,it is malt vinegar and maybe ketchup too..but definitely the vinegar
Now that we’ve gored a Hindu ox we’d better throw some more briquettes on the fire. lol
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I’ll go dig out my macrobiotic cookbook.
I didn’t expect it to be anything. I had a strange dream the other week about my dad, who died 15 years ago. He said that in my dream, so I wondered if it was a saying I had picked up somewhere and kept in my subconcious. I know the “From your lips to God’s ears.”
All in favor say AYE !!
Better heath coverage would be nice as well :)
Macro-neurotic? No lentils. Pleeeeease! no lentils. I gave up lentils for Lent.
" And ... what? An ill considered interpretation of that passage has resulted in the competing fray of contradictions. Would you simply have our hypothetical "third party" add his voice to the babble? Again, how is he to judge? By offensiveness? By some other means?
Please, be specific. "
I believe it's fairly obvious that I'm inviting you to offer your opinion on the topic. I also think it's fairly obvious that I'm not in doubt as to what my beliefs are, but rather that I'm entirely ignorant of what your beliefs are. Please don't make the mistake of assuming that I have never given this matter any consideration.
True, we are all sinners. But some sinners are called to be teachers, and as such are held to higher standards. (James 3)
They won't get a pass for being jerks, any more than Moses did.
Oooooooo (shudder), need to pray the demons from that area. ;P
Then why did He ask if it offended them? Why did some of his disciples walk away... Jesus was very offensive to the traditionalists ..that is why they hung him
I think it’s fairly obvious that your excerpt of what I wrote changes its meaning dramatically. I think it’s fairly obvious that distorting the meaning of what somebody else wrote is poor behaviour, and reflects very badly on the distorter.
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oh brother. You extrapolated all of that and make accusations against me from the fact I left out ‘in john 6’. Wow. Honestly, I didn’t read your post clear enough and your statement implied that Jesus ALWAYS preached in an inoffensive manner, which is NOT the case. I’m not sure what your beef is against me, but it is not my fault that Mormons are offended by my message.
It does appear that you are trying to bait me into saying something ‘anti-Catholic’. If that is the case, it won’t work, as I have no ill will towards Catholics. I am even allowed on Catholic Caucus threads here on FR.
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. (Matt. 9:35)
You seem to be applying "Gospel of the Kingdom" to the godless Catholics.... perhaps I am mistaken in that perception?
Right ... and now we have the competing clamour of contradictory opinions of Scripture.
What criteria do you propose, for deciding between those different points of view?
I believe that disputes are to be submitted to the Church (as is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles).I believe that Christ established a visible Church for many reasons, one of which is dispute resolution.
I'll add that one of the first disputes resolved by the Church was the question: "What is Scripture?"
I believe that NONE of us here on this forum is gifted to infallibly interpret Scripture or inerrantly determine doctrine ... and that therefore we should all bring humility to the table when we come to discuss or debate.
Very well said.
Someone is going to find a way to be offended.
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Very true, SZ.