Spending some unusually quiet and pensive time with reading material this weekend, I came across some writing from the 17th century (a great time for great writing) reflecting on John the Baptist as, say, compared with people today, caught up in modern life. It said he had “unshakable stability in the midst of all sorts of changing circumstances.” Provocative…
Here’s the rest on John the Baptist, and us:
[He] is the same in adversity as in prosperity, the same in prison amidst persecutions as in the desert amidst applause; as joyous in the winter of trouble as in the springtime of peace; he fulfilled the same role in prison as he did in the desert.
We, on the contrary, are forever changing. We vary according to time and season. There are some people so changeable that when the weather is fine, nothing can equal their joy; but when stormy, nothing can equal their depression. Such people who are fervent, prompt, and optimistic in prosperity will be weak, depressed, and disheartened in adversity. It would then take heaven and earth to restore them to peace, and ordinarily even then all our efforts are useless. You will find others who want only happy times because at such times they do marvels, or so it seems to them. Others prefer adversity. Tribulation, they say, keeps them close to God.
In short, we are spiritually fickle and really do not know what we want. There are some who, when in consolation, cannot be restrained, but when sad, cannot be consoled….
My God, what a shame that we are so inconstant! Surely, there is no stability in us, and yet this is the most essential quality in the spiritual life.
Who wrote that?
Francis de Sales.