A Firm Purpose of Amendment – St. Francis de Sales

A hearty Protest made with the object of confirming the Soul’s resolution to serve God, as a conclusion to its acts of Penitence  – (taken from St. Francis de Sales’ ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’.)

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Having made our General Confession, let us resolve to maintain our firm purpose of amendment with these words:- “I, the undersigned, in the Presence of God and of all the company of Heaven, having considered the Infinite Mercy of His Heavenly Goodness towards me, a most miserable, unworthy creature, whom He has created, preserved, sustained, delivered from so many dangers, and filled with so many blessings: having above all considered the incomprehensible mercy and loving-kindness with which this most Good God has borne with me in my sinfulness, leading me so tenderly to repentance, and waiting so patiently for me till this (present) year of my life, notwithstanding all my ingratitude, disloyalty and faithlessness, by which I have delayed turning to Him, and despising His Grace, have offended Him anew: and further, remembering that in my Baptism I was solemnly and happily dedicated to God as His child, and that in defiance of the profession then made in my name, I have so often miserably profaned my gifts, turning them against God’s Divine Majesty: I, now coming to myself prostrate in heart and soul before the Throne of His Justice, acknowledge and confess that I am duly accused and convicted of treason against His Majesty, and guilty of the Death and Passion of Jesus Christ, by reason of the sins I have committed, for which He died, bearing the reproach of the Cross; so that I deserve nothing else save eternal damnation.

But turning to the Throne of Infinite Mercy of this Eternal God, detesting the sins of my past life with all my heart and all my strength, I humbly desire and ask grace, pardon, and mercy, with entire absolution from my sin, in virtue of the Death and Passion of that same Lord and Redeemer, on Whom I lean as the only ground of my hope. I renew the sacred promise of faithfulness to God made in my name at my Baptism; renouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh, abhorring their accursed suggestions, vanities and lusts, now and for all eternity. And turning to a Loving and Pitiful God, I desire, intend, and deliberately resolve to serve and love Him now and eternally, devoting my mind and all its faculties, my soul and all its powers, my heart and all its affections, my body and all its senses, to His Will. I resolve never to misuse any part of my being by opposing His Divine Will and Sovereign Majesty, to which I wholly immolate myself in intention, vowing ever to be His loyal, obedient and faithful servant without any change or recall. But if unhappily, through the promptings of the enemy, or human infirmity, I should in anywise fail in this my resolution and dedication, I do most earnestly resolve by the grace of the Holy Spirit to rise up again so soon as I shall perceive my fall, and turn anew, without any delay, to seek His Divine Mercy. This is my firm will and intention, my inviolable, irrevocable resolution, which I make and confirm without any reserve, in the Holy Presence of God, in the sight of the Church triumphant, and before the Church militant, which is my mother, who accepts this my declaration, in the person of him who, as her representative, hears me make it. Be pleased, O Eternal, All-Powerful, and All-Loving God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to confirm me in this my resolution, and accept my hearty and willing offering. And inasmuch as Thou hast been pleased to inspire me with the will to make it, give me also the needful strength and grace to keep it. O God, Thou art my God, the God of my heart, my soul, and spirit, and as such I acknowledge and adore Thee, now and for all eternity. Glory be to Jesus. Amen.”

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HAVING made this resolution, wait attentively, and open the ears of your heart, that you may in spirit hear the absolution which the Lord of your soul, sitting on the throne of His Mercy, will speak in Heaven before the Saints and Angels when His Priest absolves you here below in His Name. Be sure that all that company of blessed ones rejoice in your joy, and sing a song of untold gladness, embracing you and accepting you as cleansed and sanctified. Of a truth, this is a marvellous deed, and a most blessed bargain for you, inasmuch as giving yourself to His Divine Majesty, you gain Him, and save yourself for eternal life. No more remains to do, save to take the pen and heartily sign your protest, and then hasten to the Altar, where God on His side will sign and seal your absolution, and His promise of Paradise, giving Himself to you in His Sacrament, as a sacred seal placed upon your renewed heart. And thus, dear child, your soul will be cleansed from sin, and from all its affections. But forasmuch as these affections are easily rekindled, thanks to our infirmity and concupiscence (which maybe mortified, but which can never be altogether extinguished while we live), I will give you certain counsels by the practice of which you may henceforth avoid mortal sin, and the affections pertaining thereto. And as these counsels will also help you to attain a yet more perfect purification, before giving them, I would say somewhat concerning that absolute perfection to which I seek to lead you. (To be continued.)

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One Response to A Firm Purpose of Amendment – St. Francis de Sales

  1. John says:

    My understanding is that it is becoming less and less common for Churches to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a matter of course in their parishes, and that even if one can avail themselves of the sacrament, it is done frequently in a somewhat haphazard and informal way. Upon discovering this, I have to admit to being quite shocked.

    On embarking upon my journey towards full communion with the Catholic Church, one of the elements that attracted me was indeed the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    For far too long. I have felt an enormous burden of sin, and though Sacramental Confession is available in the Anglican Church on request, it is nor commonly taken advantage of, and to be blunt, the oft “hurried” General Confession entered upon at the start of the Eucharist ( very similar to that in the Roman Church to cleanse Venial sin), was, and is always an inadequate medium for those of us who are keenly aware of much more than Venial sins weighing us down.

    Though a terrifying prospect for any convert, the process of self-examination of conscience for a first General Confession, is without doubt a wonderful and awesome – (in the correct meaning of the term) – voyage of self-discovery.

    Who can fail not to have the deepest reaches of their mortal souls enlightened by the conscious and willing act of opening the soul to the healing light of God’s Forgiveness?.

    I set upon preparing for my first confession some weeks ago, and found is arduous, distasteful, illuminating and terrifying, for the deeper we dig, the more sewage we find.

    What a painful waste, and what an affront to Our Lord if, having seen our souls in the brilliant light that illuminates the darkest part of the soul, we then wilfully turn away from it without true repentance.

    Sacramental Confession done well and properly, can surely only ever be a wonderful thing. I do not believe anything other than a full illumination of our souls can be efficacious, for once illuminated, and the darkest sins have been laid before us in that light, we cannot and dare not forget them or treat them lightly.

    The instructions of Francis De Sales “A Firm Purpose of Amendment” is to my own mind the most wonderful tool to illuminate the soul. If taken seriously in the light of our known faults, it can (and for me did), shed so much more light in the darkest places of my being and should, if acted upon, make any confession unequivocal in its absolute honesty, and thus cannot help but make us, if not less sinful, for that is our nature, at least better people for trying.

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