Saturday, June 18, 2011

On the Duties of our State of Life

Written by St. Claude de la Colombière (1641-1682)

"The good order of things in the world depends upon the fidelity with which each one performs the duties of his state in life. All disorder originates in negligence upon this point. What a grand thing it would be if everyone acquitted himself of his duties! It is, perhaps, the thing that is most neglected even among pious people, indeed probably more often among those than among others. Yet people do not accuse themselves of it. Charles V said to his confessor: 'I accuse myself of the sins of Charles, not of those of the Emperor.'

"More souls are lost for this reason than for any other. Half are damned for not having performed the duties of their state, the other half because others have neglected their duties with regard to them. The duties of one's state take precedence of private duties: for instance, a magistrate must not consider relationship or friendship. Public good must prevail over private good. Jesus Christ, who came into this world to teach us and save us, did not think of his Mother when it was a question of his office as Redeemer: he looked upon others only in so far as they concerned this work of Redemption. Those who cooperated with him are his brothers; those to whom his Precious Blood gives new life are his children; his Mother is she who is perfectly submissive to the will of his Father.

"A man who neglects the duties of his state is a discordant voice in the harmony of the world, no matter what else he does. Those we are faithful to all other duties often neglect these; those who do not omit them perform them negligently or through human motives and self-interest. This is not fulfilling their duty.

"In choosing a state of life, the human advantages are considered but not the duties. It is impossible to neglect these duties without injuring others, and as God has their interests at heart even more than his own, such neglect is very dangerous.

"People would consider it strange for a man to become a religious without knowing to what he was going to bind himself. But what of a secular who has been married for twenty years, or who has held some responsible post in his profession, without knowing the duties these states of life entail.

"Sins of omission on this point are easily committed. They are hardly noticed, and consequently reparation is rarely made for them. These are sins that are committed by doing nothing; sins that do not consist in bad actions but which are often the consequence of some good work.

"By neglecting your duties, you condemn both yourself and others to punishment: others because you do not teach them their duty and make them fulfill it; and yourself because you do not fulfill your own. The less wicked will be damned for what they have done; the most wicked for what they have omitted to do."

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