Memorial of St. Francis de Sales at Mississippi Abbey
In his treatise “On the Love of God” the teaching of St. Francis de Sales about mortal sin, or the loss of charity, deeply impressed me. He writes, “While it is true that only little by little do we come to despise God, we have no sooner done it than instantly true charity perishes.”1 Then he teaches that after love has perished there frequently remains a certain resemblance of charity, like the scent of perfume lingering in a room long after the source is gone. 2
He warns us that the resemblance of true charity, the lingering scent of perfume, is deceptive. Later on it becomes more evident that sin has mastered someone’s heart. Even good soil will become hard as rock if it is not watered by the life giving spring of charity.
Conversely, a sign of true charity is the persevering desire to pray with others, because Christ is present when two or three are gathered in his name. It is love that brings us together day after day in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the Eucharist to pray for one another, to pray for perseverance, to pray for Christian Unity, and to pray for all those who have lost true charity.
- St. Francis De Sales, Treatise on the Love of God, Newman Press, Maryland, 1953, Book IV, Chapter IV, p. 174.
- Ibid p. 192