Friday, August 25, 2017

St. Louis IX ~ "We should not fight against God with his own gifts."

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"If God sends you adversity, receive it in patience and give thanks to our Savior. Think that you have deserved it, and that He will make it turn to your advantage. If He sends you prosperity, then thank Him humbly so that you do not become worse from pride or any other cause....For we should not fight against God with His own gifts."
Tomb of St. Louis IX in Sicily.
August 25 is the feast day of Saint Louis IX, king of France. This day also marks the anniversary of his death, which took place outside of Tunis while on crusade in AD 1270. After Louis perished of dysentery, the crusade quickly broke up. His remains were transported back to France and Sicily where they became objects of veneration among the faithful.

During the French Revolution, all of the relics of Saint Louis in France were destroyed by anti-Catholic vandals. His heart and viscera remain interred in the Cathedral of Monreale in Palermo, Sicily to this day.

The words above are taken from St. Louis's last instructions to his eldest son as recorded by Jean de Joinville, a courtier of the king who wrote his biography in AD 1309.

Here is the complete quote with some additional context:
Then he [Louis] called my Lord Philip, his son, and commanded him, as if by testament, to observe all the teachings he had left him, which are hereinafter set down in French, and were, so it is said, written with the king's own saintly hand:

"Fair son, the first thing I would teach thee is to set thine heart to love God; for unless he love God none can be saved. Keep thyself from doing aught that is displeasing to God, that is to say, from mortal sin. Contrariwise thou shouldst suffer every manner of torment rather than commit a mortal sin.

"If God send thee adversity, receive it in patience and give thanks to our Saviour and bethink thee that thou hast deserved it, and that He will make it turn to thine advantage. If He send thee prosperity, then thank Him humbly, so that thou becomest not worse from pride or any other cause, when thou oughtest to be better. For we should not fight against God with his own gifts.

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"Confess thyself often and choose for thy confessor a right worthy man who knows how to teach thee what to do, and what not to do; and bear thyself in such sort that thy confessor and thy friends shall dare to reprove thee for thy misdoings. Listen to the services of Holy Church devoutly, and without chattering; and pray to God with thy heart and with thy lips, and especially at Mass when the consecration takes place. Let thy heart be tender and full of pity toward those who are poor, miserable, and afflicted, and comfort and help them to the utmost of thy power.

"Maintain the good customs of thy realm and abolish the bad. Be not covetous against thy people and do not burden them with taxes and imposts save when thou art in great need.

"If thou hast any great burden weighing upon thy heart, tell it to thy confessor or to some right worthy man who is not full of vain words. Thou shalt be able to bear it more easily...."
An excellent brief biography of Saint Louis IX may be found on the EWTN website.

If you're up for the original source, check out Chronicles of the Crusades which provides the works of both Joinville and Geoffrey de Villehardouin. These are excellent, if sobering, reads about the later crusades.

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