14 February 2013

St. Francis de Sales on Humility and Fasting

If you have read this blog for more than a day, you will know that I love St. Francis de Sales.  If you read more than ten pages of his writings, you will also know this: the dude loves bees.  And by that I mean that while he uses the natural world to draw analogies quite often, bees seem to be one of his favorite flying metaphors.  I can imagine him writing by an open window near a flower bed...

Beautiful, as usual.  From his sermon for Ash Wednesday, 1622:

Accomplish your good works in secret and not for the eyes of others.  Do not act like the spider, who represents the proud; but imitate the bee, who is the symbol of the humble soul.  The spider spins its web where everyone can see it, and never in secret.  It spins in orchards, going from tree to tree, in houses, on windows, on floors-- in short, before the eyes of all.  In this it resembles the vain and hypocritical who do everything to be seen and admired by others.  Their works are in fact only spiders' webs, fit to be cast into the fires of Hell.  But the bees are wiser and more prudent, for they prepare their honey in the hive where no one can see them.  Besides that, they build little cells where they continue their work in secret.  This represents very well the humble soul, who is always withdrawn within herself, without seeking any glory or praise for her actions.  Rather, she keeps her intention hidden, being content that God sees and knows what she does.

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