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Busy Bees

“They Change It into Honey”

Introduction to the Devout LifeThe worlds sees devout people as they pray, fast, endure injuries, take care of the sick, give alms to the poor, keep vigils, restrain anger, control their passions, give up sensual pleasures, and perform other actions that are rigorous in themselves and by their very nature.

But the world does not see the heartfelt devotion that renders all such actions pleasant, sweet, and easy. Look at the bees amid the banks of thyme. They find there a very bitter juice, but when they suck it out, they change it into honey because they have the ability to do so.

O worldly people! It is true that devout souls encounter great bitterness in their works of mortification, but by performing them they change them into something more sweet and delicious. Because the martyrs were devout men and women, fire, flame, wheel, and sword seemed to be flowers and perfume to them. If devotion can sweeten the most cruel torments and even death itself, what must it do for virtuous actions?

…Sugar sweetens green fruit and in ripe fruit corrects  whatever is crude and unwholesome. Now devotion is true spiritual sugar for it removes bitterness from discipline and anything harmful from consolations.

~ from Introduction to the Devout Life, by Francis De Sales,

in Devotional Classics: Selected Readings,

ed. Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith

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