Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis De Sales, a book some have described as the best ever written for lay people. First published in 1609, its message is still entirely fresh and relevant. This popular abridgment, which deletes some extra language, renders it more powerful still. A classic by a doctor of the Church! click here 



Hearing the truth is not the same as understanding it. When we hear the truth and apply it to our lives, that is to understand it: which is wisdom.

Truth works through wisdom and is inhibited when we lack understanding (and charity). God wants you to accomplish your mission, which always has something to do with betterment of all life and all things on this earth, on whatever level, in whatever "small" or large way. This takes sagacity.

Let those who have ears hear (Matthew 11:15). Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

There are many times when we know what the truth or the right thing is but don't act on in accordance with it. Trouble results. We may enter into a "series of unfortunate events." When the truth has been presented to us but we keep on with whatever wrong or mistake or imperfection we are doing (and it can seem small!), or wrong ambition (straying from our true mission, which can seem "smaller"), God sends hints through the words that people speak to us or events in our lives or uneasiness in spirit and often sends and resends, warns and re-warns, in tiny ways, in small ways: then, in larger (and larger) ways. A lack of peace turns into anxiety.

When we're cognizant of this -- when we "get it," when we have taken the time to carefully note what happens around and in us -- hopefully we do something about wrongful habit.

When we don't, when we don't see His messages, or choose to ignore those hints -- the warnings, those little nudges (an acidic stomach, indicating the wrong diet; tension, with someone we're not supposed to be yoked with; mistakes at work, caused by inattention; a honk from someone, because we are doing something wrong at the wheel) -- the nudges turn into a push; bigger nudges. Soon there is a shove. A little bit of bad luck becomes a bigger incident of bad luck. A little nudge becomes that push. A warning that was whispered is now said aloud, even shouted.

Bad luck turns into a "misfortune."

And when that misfortune is not addressed at its roots, it becomes a greater misfortune.

If we're not careful, it can evolve into a tragedy.

It's hard for us to comprehend, on this earth, but actually there are no misfortunes or tragedies (except for falling into hell -- and there are those who are even given visions of this!). Misfortunes are learning lessons. God wants to get our attention. He wants to reform us. He wants us to purify. He wants you to accomplish your mission -- and make direct entry into Heaven.

When we're obstinate, when we stiffen our necks, when we are lackadaisical, when we pooh-pooh the little things (as only "bad luck"), when we simply don't want to address a matter (whether through laziness or pride, which is stubbornness, or simply through ignorance, due to a lack of prayer), when we won't admit mistakes, you never know what can happen.

Little resistances in life (when not from the evil one; heavenly resistances) are often indications. Resist Godly resistance long enough, and it will become a wall across your path in life. Be honest with yourself and it will set you free. God always speaks to us.

(Keep repeating wrong behavior and as it says in Proverbs 26.) We can hoard wrong emotions or behaviors like we hoard anything else.

What signs have been occurring in your life? What feels funny? What keeps repeating? What is excessive? Where's the dead wood, the weeds?

God always warns. He always instructs. We just don't pick up His warnings. He always sends signs. We just don't see or want to see them. If things keep going wrong, command away any evil in the event it's evil (in the Name of Jesus) and if it persists step back and take a fresh look at the way you have structured everything around you. Maybe you need to restructure it! Get rid of dead wood. Take a fresh approach. At springtime, new life can not grow through debris.

Too often, we just don't want to hear (or want to forget about it; it takes energy).

There are no coincidences in life. When things occur, we must step back, clear our minds in prayer, and ask the Holy Spirit to discern them. Things just don't work out, no matter what you try? You keep getting certain complaints? There are stumbles? We don't need other people to "read the tea leaves" (save perhaps for a priest). God speaks most "loudly" about your life to you -- not to other intermediaries.

Truth recognized is wisdom.

His Truth marches on, always, in many ways; the wise stop to study the parade.

[Note also: Michael Brown retreats: Philadelphia-New Jersey and Announcing a retreat, Mass in Danbury, Connecticut]

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