St. Francis de Sales keeps us on our toes. He asks us to picture ourselves between heaven and hell during our time on earth.
This month, our Living Jesus Chat Room chatters touched upon various aspects of spirituality, exploring concepts like filial relationships, sacraments, and the awareness of God's constant companionship, and so on. The chat begins with the sobering topic of remaining in God's grace during our earthly lives.
If you would like to chat with Catholics like yourself, why not check out our Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday! We read a passage of St. Francis de Sales and then gather great insights and sharing!
Are You Growing Complacent?
Question: The beauty of Our Savior and of the saints seems like such an easy choice. Why does St. Francis de Sales have us picture ourselves between heaven and hell until the end of our lives?
Bridget: Picturing ourselves between heaven & hell till the end of our lives helps us keep from ever growing complacent or overconfident…We need to stay humble and vigilant lest we be seduced by evil trickery…Our willful choice of good or evil ends only with death—until them, our eternal fate is ever sealed, one way or another.
Lydia: St. Francis de Sales is right, we are between both, because our free will sends us to one or the other, and we can change at any time. I think at the last second when dying people who did not choose God will choose Him then.
Priscila: And we must be careful as our judgment can get clouded.
Bridget: Like the person Rebecca was talking about…Only God knows his fate.
Visitation Sister: In a way we are between heaven and hell on earth because temptations are always there, to be resisted, but we can fall.
Priscila: God knows everything…. even how many times we choose Him over satan and in what circumstances and God is just and merciful.
Visitation Sister: Why is the choice difficult sometimes?
Bridget: Hmmm…we can fall into the pit, as off a tightrope, but we can’t climb up to Heaven on our own–only God’s Grace can save us. The choice is difficult because the rewards of virtue are not always immediate the way that the gratification from certain evils are.
Lydia: Blessed Mother can keep us on the right path.
Visitation Sister: Very true.
Lydia: This video made me cry. They said she suffered more than anyone. That is the seven sorrows devotion https://www.youtube.com/watch?V=tdssfn-jaxy
Bridget: Also, without the proper embracing of redemptive suffering that we talked about last week, virtue can seem futile when “good people” suffer.
Denise: Before conversion or early after temptations can be very strong. It is in God’s grace and our prayer that we fight.
Priscila: It is difficult because satan glamorizes evil and likes to cloud our judgment.
Lydia: Saying the Rosary every day makes it much harder to fall into sin. It feels like the Blessed Mother says, do not do that.
Rebecca: My understanding of Purgatory is that we are assured of Heaven BUT must be purified. Here on Earth, it is always possible to set our sights on some false “good” — that is the frightening reality made evident by the choice of that college friend deliberately taking his life (IF it was not an “accident” which seems unlikely.).
In God’s Presence
Question: Since God is everywhere at all times, what does it mean to place yourself in His presence?
Bridget: In part, as best we can, to put our full attention on Him, aware of His Majesty and our filial relationship to Him.
Bethany: Through the 7 blessed sacraments.
Priscila: To remember that He is with you always and act like He is present.
Bridget: Interesting, Priscila, when I think of putting myself in “His Presence,” I realize I see Him outside myself. Putting myself in His Presence makes me feel like I’m going into the Inner Court.
Priscila: I realize Him out of myself but walking with me as a companion, like on the road to Emmaus.
Bridget: Interesting, too, I realize that even when I see Him as a companion, I want & LOVE for Him to be Lord!
Rebecca: Sr. Susan, last Sunday Chat was FULL, ten people, I think. I couldn’t get on. But I had a guest here and it might have been too much of a challenge for her. We went to St. Mary’s high school together, for just the last two years — with my parents’ permission but not their approval.
Bethany: Through the Mass we are being touched by the Lord and believe he is with us through Mass.
Visitation Sister: St Francis says we need to remember we are in God’s presence.
Bridget: Sister, does St. Francis de Sales tell us to remember that Presence as one of a friend?
Visitation Sister: I believe so Bridget.
Friends of God
Question: In John 15:15, Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” If this is so and God is our Father, why is it acceptable to pray in a prostrate position and genuflect?
Priscila: As a sign of our humility and respect.
Bridget: For me, it’s not only acceptable, but it’s beneficial/nourishing to do so to remind ourselves and to show Him that “friends” or not, no way are we His equal.
Bethany: God our Father sent his spirit to Mary our mother and Jesus’ friends because Jesus brings the Holy Spirit from Heavenly Father to them and us.
Rebecca: Good, Bethany.
Priscila: Also, a sign of our deep love of God…. even a husband at times may kneel before his true love.
Bridget: Wow, Priscila, is that why men take a knee when proposing marriage?
Priscila: You see it a lot on western shows.
Visitation Sister: We respect our friends and the greater they are the more respected. So now if we are talking about God, our respect and adoration is the highest, and so we genuflect.
Bethany: The Holy Spirit guides us to follow his rules that he wants us to obey in our lives.
Lydia: Honor thy father and mother. God is our Father.
Converted Through a Genuflection
Rebecca: Yes. It shows deep respect. I know a woman who became a Catholic after seeing an elderly man genuflect reverently to the Blessed Sacrament.
Bridget: So beautiful, Rebecca!
Rebecca: She thought there must be something really special there and began questioning. She was in the otherwise empty church because she wanted to play an organ and had heard that there was one there.
Bridget: Amazing Grace! So, when the Lord knelt to wash His disciples’ feet, He was showing respect….
Bethany: The Lord does this action to teach us to love and respect each other.
Rebecca: In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Holy Spirit is referred to with PERSONAL pronouns. Today our Pastor kept using “it” to refer to the Holy Spirit. That disturbed me.
Lydia: Rebecca that would disturb me too.
Bridget: I’m with you, Rebecca!
Rebecca: I feel it needs to be addressed, but who am I to say anything? His preaching has gotten distinctly better and clearly he TRIED to prepare well. He went through a stack of books, selected something that compared the Holy Spirit to electricity.
Lydia: Rebecca, you can ask why he said it and just say it confused you.
Bridget: What if you very respectfully told him that you were offended by hearing the Holy Spirit Who is a Person referred to as an object–an “It.”
Bridget: Lydia–Good idea– if Rebecca says she was confused and asks why he referred to the Holy Spirit as he did–that’s better!
Priscila: The Holy Spirit can’t be an it. He is the love between the Father and the Son. If Father and Son are He….then what is the Holy Spirit…..?
My Sins Are Always Before Me
Question: Why is it helpful to have a reflection on the hideousness of the devil and the awfulness of sins. And vileness associated with him and his fallen angels?
Lydia: We should be afraid of the devil; he lies and tries to trick us. If we know how bad he is, we can better avoid his evil tricks.
Bethany: The Bible tells us why the angel Lucifer disobeyed God and became the devil. We can't be like him, we want to obey the Lord always.
Bridget: St. Francis de Sales’ technique of visualizing the grotesque nature of evil as a way of being “turned off” by it reminds me of a weight loss “Break the habit of eating something not good for you to eat” technique. First, imagine the grossest, most repulsive, nauseating vermin you can think of; next imagine the beautifully appealing food you are trying to refrain from eating; then imagine the vermin crawling all over the food, totally covering it; finally imagine yourself eating the vermin-covered food—You won’t!
Priscila: To remind ourselves of how awful sin and satan is, we are often caught by the glamor of sin.
Rebecca: The devil DIVIDES us. The Spirit of Christ makes us ONE body, the Body of Christ.
Bethany: We need to reject satan and get back to Jesus; Jesus wants us with him.
Lydia: Fr. Ripperger has videos on YouTube about angels, including bad angels, and he discusses how they make decisions and help us or hurt us. Fr. Ripperger is an exorcist. I like his videos, especially how he talks about Guardian Angels. https://youtu.be/8wmjnjmgpn4.
Rebecca: Thank you, Lydia.
Lydia: He has a lot of videos.
Lydia: He knows about the devil and demons because he fights them.
Priscila: He must have lots of courage from the Holy Spirit.
One Cannot Love Both Good and Evil
Question: How is our mere desire for Jesus a rejection of Satan?
Priscila: It shows our love…preference.
Bridget: If I understand St. Francis de Sales, Good (Jesus) and evil (satan) cannot simultaneously co-exist in our desire at the same time; ultimately we need to choose one. Desiring Jesus is a choice for Him (good) and a de facto rejection of satan (evil).
Lydia: Sin separates us from God. Satan wants us to be damned. We cannot be damned, if we are in league with Jesus. Satan was the highest angel and smartest angel and when he rejected God and then saw that God made man and allowed man to be his sons, it made satan angry at us.
Bridget: Sr Susan, in terms of “securing salvation,” is the “preferential option” debunked?
Visitation Sister: I don’t know what you mean, Bridget, can anyone else clue me in? Is it the poor you mean?
Bridget: For a while there was a view that no one would go to hell who really, overall preferred Jesus to satan.
Visitation Sister: Oh, I don’t agree with that; is that in the catechism?
Bridget: Our children (now grown adults) were taught that.
Rebecca: Did I tell you, I’ve been struggling because a longtime friend and devout Catholic (He even published a bk on St. Thomas Aquinas) and with his wife has been heroically practicing the corporal works of mercy, appears to have committed suicide, with three tries, and with a verbalized plan, even to the timing.
Priscila: Sorry to hear that, Rebecca, have trust and hope…. we cannot go until the Father beckons.
Rebecca: And another friend, who had been calling me every day often after 10 PM, reacted to my request to call earlier, by 8 or 9, in such a way, that we seem to be no longer so close, like I was not loving and no longer trusted when I tried to explain why it is important for me to try to be in bed by 10 or 11. . .
Lydia: That preferential option cannot be true…. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt 7:21)
Priscila: You have to show your love of God…if you love me keep my word…and His word is His commandments.
I Have Called You by Name
Question: What does it mean that Jesus calls us by name?
Denise: He is calling us unto himself.
Bethany: He is God, he knows us by name.
Lydia: Isaiah 49:1–7.
Bridget: Just as each sheep knows his shepherd’s voice and follows him when the shepherd calls him by name, Jesus, our Good Shepherd calls us/His sheep, individually by name, and we follow Him. Conversely, the sheep will not follow anyone whose voice they do not recognize. Moral: We need to recognize Jesus’ Voice in order not to be duped into following satan, who masquerades as someone who offers to shepherd us into “good” pastures that are totally evil.
Lydia: Calling us by name means He knows us. He had a plan for us before he made us.
Priscila: He loves us…. each one….
The Servant of the Lord (49)
Listen to me, you islands;
Hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
From my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
In the shadow of his hands he hid me;
He made me into a polished arrow
And concealed me in his quiver
He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
And my reward is with my God.”
And now the Lord says—
He who formed me in the womb to be his servant.
To bring Jacob back to him.
And gather Israeli to himself,
For I am honored in the eyes of the Lord.
And my God has been my strength—
And bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
That my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
This is what the Lord says—
The Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
To him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
To the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up,
Princes will see and bow down,
Because of the Lord, who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
To restore the tribes of Jacob.
Denise: Thank you, Lydia.
Priscila: Jesus wants us to choose Him at each moment instead of Satan. He wants us with Him in Heaven. He loves us.
Priscila: We are His sheep.
Visitation Sister: To hear Jesus call our name must be powerful.
Lydia: Gentle. Happy.
Denise: Will we hear him at the hour of our death?
Bridget: Sheep called to be shrewd against satan and docile toward the Holy Spirit.
Rebecca: Jesus may even have a NEW name for each of us, known only to him.
Denise: Oh! Thanks, Rebecca.
Lydia: Maybe, Rebecca, but I think we get our name at Baptism when we become God’s children. He knew it before though.
Visitation Sister: Everybody have a peaceful and devout week!
Bridget: Amen! Thank you, Sister, you too!
If you enjoyed this chat, why not join us at our Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday! We read a passage of St. Francis de Sales and then gather great insights and sharing!