Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

François Fénelon, fully Francois de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon

French Roman Catholic Archbishop, Theologian, Poet, Prelate and Writer

"Courage is a virtue only so far as it is directed by prudence."

"Discouragement is simply the despair of wounded self-love."

"Faults will turn to good, provided we use them to our own humiliation, without slackening in the effort to correct ourselves. Discouragement serves no possible purpose; it is simply the despair of wounded self-love. The real way of profiting by the humiliation of one’s own faults is to face them in their true hideousness, without ceasing to hope in God, while hoping nothing from self."

"If we were faultless we should not be so much annoyed by the defects of those with whom we associate."

"It is only in beholding and loving God that we can learn forgetfulness of self, measure duly the nothingness which has dazzled us, and accustom ourselves thankfully to decrease beneath that great Majesty which absorbs all things. Love God and you will be humble; love God and you will throw off the love of self; love God and you will love all that He gives you to love for love of Him."

"Nothing will make us so charitable and tender to the faults of others as by self-examination thoroughly to know our own."

"On this earth all is temptation. Crosses tempt us by irritating our pride, and prosperity by flattering it. Our life is a continual combat... We must pass on unmoved, while temptations rage around us, as the traveler, overtaken by a storm, simply wraps his cloak more closely about him, and pushes on more vigorously toward his destined home."

"Our piety must be weak and imperfect if it do not conquer our fear of death."

"Pity enlarges the heart."

"Simplicity is that grace which frees the soul from all unnecessary reflections upon itself."

"Simplicity is the straightforwardness of a soul which refuses itself any reaction with regard to itself or its deeds. This virtue differs from and surpasses sincerity. We see many people who are sincere without being simple. They do not wish to be taken for other than what they are; but they are always fearing lest they should be taken for what they are not."

"Sordid and infamous sensuality , the most dreadful evil that issued from the box of Pandora, corrupts every heart, and eradicates every virtue."

"Temptations are a file which rub off much of the rust of self-confidence."

"The best general means to insure the profitable employment of our time is to accustom ourselves to living in continual dependence upon the Spirit of God and His law, receiving, every instant, whatever He is pleased to bestow; consulting Him in every action, and having recourse to Him in our weaker moments when virtue seems to fail."

"The passion of acquiring riches in order to support a vain expense corrupts the purest souls."

"There are two principal points of attention necessary for the preservation of this constant spirit of prayer which unites us with God; we must continually seek to cherish it, and we must avoid everything that tends to make us lose it."

"There is no more dangerous illusion than the fancies by which people try to avoid illusion. It is imagination which leads us astray; and the certainty which we seek through imagination, feeling, and taste, is one of the most dangerous sources from which fanaticism springs."

"There is no real elevation of mind in a contempt of little things; it is, on the contrary, from too narrow views that we consider those things of little importance which have in fact such extensive consequences."

"Time is given us that we may take care for eternity; and eternity will not be too long to regret the loss of our time if we have misspent it."

"True piety hath in it nothing weak, nothing sad, nothing constrained. It enlarges the heart; it is simple, free and attractive."

"You cannot practice too rigid a fast from the charms of worldly talk."

"Accustom yourself gradually to carry prayer into all your daily occupations. Speak, move, work, in peace, as if you were in prayer, as indeed you ought to be. Do everything with excitement, by the spirit of grace."

"Beware of fatiguing them by ill-judged exactness. If virtue offers itself to the child under a melancholy and constrained aspect, while liberty and license present themselves under an agreeable form, all is lost, and your labor is in vain."

"Children are very nice observers, and they will often perceive your slightest defects. In general, those who govern children forgive nothing in them but everything in themselves."

"God, who is liberal in all his other gifts, shows us, by the wise economy of his providence, how circumspect we ought to be in the management of our time, for he never gives us two moments together."

"How different the peace of god from that of the world! It calms the passions, preserves the purity of conscience, is inseparable from righteousness, unites us to God and strengthens us against temptations. The peace of the soul consists in an absolute resignation to the will of God."

"How does our will become sanctified? By conforming itself unreservedly to that of God."

"How rare to find a soul still enough to hear God speak."

"I believe that we are conforming to the divine order and the will of Providence when we are doing even indifferent things that belong to our condition."

"If I were asked what single qualification was necessary for one who has the care of children, I should say patience - patience with their tempers, with their understandings, with their progress. It is not brilliant parts or great acquirements which are necessary for teachers, but patience to go over first principles again and again; steadily to add a little every day; never to be irritated by willful or accidental hindrance."

"If we had strength and faith enough to trust ourselves entirely to God, and follow Him simply wherever He should lead us, we should have no need of any great effort of mind to reach perfection."

"In the light of eternity we shall see that what we desired would have been fatal to us, and that what we would have avoided was essential to our well-being."

"It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are, the more gentle and quiet we become towards the defects of others."

"It is this unquiet self-love that renders us so sensitive. The sick man, who sleeps ill, thinks the night long. We exaggerate, from cowardice, all the evils which we encounter; they are great, but our sensibility increases them. The true way to bear them is to yield ourselves up with confidence to God."

"Never let us be discouraged with ourselves. It is not when we are conscious of our faults that we are the most wicked; on the contrary, we are less so. We see by a brighter light; and let us remember for our consolation, that we never perceive our sins till we begin to cure them."

"No human power can force the intrenchments of the human mind: compulsion never persuades; it only makes hypocrites."

"Speak, move, act in peace, as if you were in prayer. In truth, this is prayer."

"The more you say, the less people remember. The fewer the words, the greater the profit."

"To love nothing is not to live; to love but feebly is to languish rather than live."

"True prayer is only another name for the love of God. Its excellence does not consist in the multitude of our words; for our Father knoweth what things we have need of before we ask Him. The true prayer is that of the heart, and the heart prays only for what it desires. To pray, then, is to desire - but to desire what God would have us desire."

"We are never less alone than when we are in the society of a single, faithful friend; never less deserted than when we re carried in the arms of the All-Powerful."

"We may as well tolerate all religions, since God Himself tolerates all."

"Wine is the source of the greatest evils among communities. It causes diseases, quarrels, seditions, idleness, aversion to labor, and family disorders... It is s species of poison that causes madness. It does not make a man die, but it degrades him into a brute. Men may preserve their health and vigor without wine; with wine they run the risk of ruining their health and losing their morals."

"A feeble compromise between God and world will satisfy neither. God will reject you, and the world will drag you falling into its snares."

"Accustom yourself to the unreasonableness and injustice. Abide in peace in the presence of God, who sees all these evils more clearly than you do, and who permits them. Be content with doing with calmness the little which depends upon yourself, and let all else be to you as if it were not."

"Doubt is the trouble of a soul left to itself, which wants to see what God hides from it, and out of self-love seeks impossible securities."

"God is love; for who does not love him, does not know him; for how can we know love without loving?"

"He who unreservedly accepts whatever God may give him in this world – humiliation, trouble, and trial from within or from without – has made a great step towards self-victory; he will not dread praise or censure, he will not be sensitive; or if he finds himself wincing, he will deal so cavalierly with his sensitiveness that it will soon die away. Such full resignation and unfeigned acquiescence is true liberty, and hence arises perfect simplicity."

"How can you expect God to speak in that gentle and inward voice which melts the soul, when you are making so much noise with your rapid reflections? Be silent and God will speak again. "

"Perfect devotedness requires, not only that we do the will of God, but that we do it with love. God would have us serve Him with delight; it is our hearts that He asks of us."