How one should eliminate unreal affections! – Advice from St. Francis de Sales

‘How are you to meet the swarm of foolish attachments, triflings, and undesirable inclinations which beset you?

By turning sharply away, and thoroughly renouncing such vanities, flying to the Saviour’s Cross, and clasping His Crown of thorns to your heart, so that these little foxes may not spoil your vines.

Beware of entering into any manner of treaty with the Enemy; do not delude yourself by listening to him while intending to reject him.

For God’s Sake, my daughter, be firm on all such occasions; the heart and ear are closely allied, and just as you would vainly seek to check the downward course of a mountain torrent, so difficult will you find it to keep the smooth words which enter in at the ear from finding their way down into the heart. . .

If unhappily you are already entangled in the nets of any unreal affection, truly it is hard to set you free! But place yourself before His Divine Majesty, acknowledge the depth of your wretchedness, your weakness and vanity, and then with all the earnestness of purpose you can muster, arrest the budding evil, abjure your own empty promises, and renounce those you have received, and resolve with a firm, absolute will never again to indulge in any trifling or dallying with such matters.

If you can remove from the object of your unworthy affection, it is most desirable to do so.

He who has been bitten by a viper cannot heal his wound in the presence of another suffering from the like injury, and so one bitten with a false fancy will not shake it off while near to his fellow-victim. Change of scene is very helpful in quieting the excitement and restlessness of sorrow or love.

St. Ambrose tells a story in his Second Book on Penitence, of a young man, who coming home after a long journey quite cured of a foolish attachment, met the unworthy object of his former passion, who stopped him, saying, “Do you not know me, I am still myself?” “That may be,” was the answer, “but I am not myself.” – so thoroughly and happily was he changed by absence.’

St. Francis de Sales

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