Posted by: fvbcdm | August 13, 2015

Feast of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal (12 August 2015)

Today, we celebrate the commemoration of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, the friend and spiritual directee of Saint Francis de Sales and the foundress of the Visitation nuns. Her commemoration day brings back happy memories to me of two visits that I made with travel groups to the beautiful little city of Annecy in the French Alps where she lived, founded the order of the Visitation, and is now buried. I had the privilege of celebrating Mass in the church where her tomb and that of Saint Francis de Sales are located.

In the liturgy of the hours today, we read from the Book of Proverbs concerning holy women. Proverbs says, “Charm is deceptive, beauty fleeting. The woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Think of that for a moment, and in this connection think of the amount of time, energy, and money that is spent in the pursuit of good looks—cosmetics, even cosmetic surgery, hairdos, wigs, all sorts of diets and regimens to enhance one’s beauty and good looks, or to try to do so. And that is true not only of women but also of men, who try to look like Mr. America or some Greek God. When you read the newspapers or magazines, notice how many of the ads have to do with beauty and good looks. Think of the billions of dollars that are spent in the pursuit of physical beauty. Do those who spend that money have any interest in the appearance of their souls in the sight of God?

One time, years ago, a lady came into my confessional, and she confessed excessive concern about her appearance. I suggested that the next time that she looked in the mirror while applying makeup, that she think of what that face would look like six months after she died. She practically screamed at me, “Father, you didn’t have to tell me that.” But THAT happened to be true and more useful to her spiritual life than her eyeshadow or her lipstick. I’m not condemning all cosmetics or cosmetic practices completely. I’m just suggesting moderation. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s,” says our Lord. We can paraphrase that into “Be concerned about the appearance of your face and body as they deserve, and about the state of your soul as it deserves.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note: This message was composed some years ago.

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