Daily Thought For October 12, 2014
Judge Your Feelings
Feelings, even pleasant ones, can be from our enemy or from our friend, that is, from the evil one or from the one who is all goodness. Now, we can discern whence they come by certain signs, of which here are a few that will suffice to guide you.
When we do not rest in them, but when we make use of them only for recreation in order afterward to fulfill with a greater constancy the duties and work that God has confided to us, that is a good sign. God sometimes gives us consolations for this reason. He condescends to our infirmity. He sees that our taste for spiritual things has dulled, and he gives us a little gravy, but only to prompt us to desire the nourishing meat. It is therefore a good indication when we do not tarry in the enjoyment of our feelings, for when the evil one gives us certain feelings, he wants us to rest in them; when we do, when we eat only gravy, our spiritual stomachs become weakened and spoiled.
Secondly, the right sort of feelings do not make us at all proud. Our understanding must remain entirely humble and submissive to God, recognizing that Caleb and Joshua would never have brought word to the Israelites of the delights of the Promised Land had they not thought them to be in need of having their courage stirred. If, instead of puffing itself up, our understanding recognizes its own weakness and lovingly humiliates itself before God, then we will realize that these feelings are given to us as a reward and protection.
These good feelings do not leave us weakened, but strengthened, not afflicted, but consoled. The bad ones, however, bring a certain transport when they come and leave us full of anguish when they depart. Good feelings, when they depart, recommend to us the pursuit of virtue in their absence; indeed it is for our growth in virtue that they are given to us. The bad ones suggest that when they depart, virtue does too, and they leave us dispirited. In brief, good feelings do not call for love, but only for us to love the One who sends them, while the bad ones want us to love them above all things. Good feelings impel us to seek virtue; bad ones to seek feelings themselves.
St. Francis de Sales