Love neither the world nor the things which are in the world, for all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life. "If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him." Thus speaks St. John. Nothing then can be in greater opposition to Christian holiness and eternal salvation than the love of the world, the pursuit of its pleasures and the practice of its maxims. This is why before being admitted to baptism we have to renounce them. "The world hates me," JESUS-CHRIST has said: how then can we love the world? JESUS-CHRIST has cursed the world on account of its scandals, for there is scandal in everything appertaining to it: its maxims, its customs, its amusements, its fashions, its conversations; how then can we take pleasure in it? If we frequent the world, we thereby show that we share its tastes, desire to share its amusements, and conform to its customs; now the whole world is seated in wickedness, says St. John, which means that it is under the dominion of the devil. It was for this reason that all the Saints, even those of the Old Testament, fled from the world; they lived retired from it; some in the deserts, says St. Paul, some in caves or hollows of the earth; they passed their life in poverty, anguish, privations, scorn, persecutions, rather than breathe the vitiated atmosphere of that cursed country called the world.
St. Anne and her blessed spouse, like all the Saints, like JESUS, Mary and Joseph later on, lived in the greatest retirement, carefully avoiding all worldly assemblies; and this is the very reason why we know so few details of their holy life. They were like the sober-hued violet which, sheltered by its own leaves, fills the neighboring woods with its perfume, or like the stream which, flowing through solitary places, is never disturbed by the foot of the wayfarer and incessantly mirrors the pure skies. Or like the chaste turtle dove that penetrates into the thickest depths of the woods to hide her nest and her innocent offspring. They held communication only with the poor, the sick, the afflicted, to console them in their sorrows, to relieve their wants, and to inspire them with hope. What had they to ask of the world? They loved God with their whole heart, and they possess ed Him; and what can be wanting to those who possess God? Does not God contain everything that is good, as He said to Moses, and outside of Him that contains everything that is good, what good can be found?
Faithful soul living in the midst of the world, far be it from me to advise you to desert the post assigned you by Providence, to leave your business, your house, to forsake your children, nor, if you are still young, to enter religion without having any vocation for it. But if you cannot leave the world, I exhort you to follow St. Anne’s example and to live in the world as a stranger to it. In order to do this you must, in the first place, hold the maxims of the world in horror. If the world say to you: "Young people will be young people," that is, every sort of folly may be indulged in at that age, recall to mind that the maxim of the Holy Ghost is: "It is good for a man to have borne the yoke of the Lord from his youth, when he is old, he will not depart from the paths in which he has walked during his younger years." If the world say to you: "We must stand up for our rights and not allow ourselves to be trod den underfoot," you should reply: "JESUS has said: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and you shall be the children of your heavenly Father who makes His sun to rise upon the just and upon the injust." If the world say to you: "We must do as others do, we must not make ourselves singular, nor need we live in the world like hermits," remember that the Holy Ghost says: "The number of fools is infinite; many are called and few are chosen; broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter by it; strait is the way that leads to life, and few there are who find it." If, therefore, I wish to save my soul, I must do differently to what others do, I must be somewhat singular, never say as the worldly says: "One cannot have too much of a good thing;" but remember what St. Paul says about those who wishing to become rich fall into the snare of the devil. Never say: "There is a man who is perfectly happy, for he has everything he wants, he is rich, honored, nattered, and is always amusing himself;" this would be contradicting JESUS-CHRIST Who has said: "Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who weep, who hunger and thirst, who are persecuted." Do not say: "God is good and will pardon me yet this one sin more ," or "I mean to be converted later on," for if God is good, He is also just; He has warned you to lose no time in being converted, and has not promised you any to-morrow. If you wish to save your soul in the world, you must flee from certain worldly amusements, such as balls, and licentious plays, and you must avoid all companionship with the dissipated and irreligious. When questioned by the Curd d’Ars, the devil replied: "I am all round a ball like a wall," meaning thereby that he did as he pleased with those who were taking part in it. In order to save your soul in the world, you must also avoid adopting any fashion of dress that is the least immodest (no matter how generally adopted it may be), and you must refrain from reading anything licentious or against the Catholic faith. Lastly, if you wish to save your soul in the world, you must tread underfoot all human respect and learn never to blush at doing right. Besides this is the only means of being respected. You are known to profess being pious, so what will be thought of you if you are seen eating meat on an abstinence day, or smiling at some speech that offends against religion or modesty? You will be thought utterly deficient in strength of mind. Protestants, Jews, freemasons are net ashamed of their ways of thinking, and should you be ashamed of the true religion? JESUS has said: "He that shall deny Me before men, shall be denied before the Angels of God."
Abbe Linchaud,the founder of St. Anne’s College and formerly a missionary at Bay Chaleur, relates the following:
On the evening of St. Anne s day which had been a day of great fatigue, I was sleeping soundly when suddenly I was awakened in some strange manner and I distinctly heard a voice saying to me: "Three of your brethren are in danger of perishing if you do not hasten to their aid by interceding for them with her who is always called the good St. Anne and in whom they have the greatest confidence." The voice ceased, but its tones had been so entreating and melodious that sleep was banished from my eyelids for the rest of the night, and whenever I recall the circumstance, I feel a similar emotion to that which I then experienced.
Immediately on receiving the warning, I made a solemn promise that the next morning, I would sing a high Mass in honor of St. Anne, for the safety of my dear parishioners. Next morning, I learned the following particulars from those who had been miraculously saved from death and who had arrived during the night.
Three Indians, two men and a woman, were crossing in a bark-canoe from Iracadie to Ristigouche and had arrived at the middle of the bay, opposite Caraquet, very late at night. A squall sprung up and their frail boat was upset. Being thus thrown suddenly into the water, these unfortunate creatures at first sank to the bottom, and on regaining the surface found themselves separated from one another and from the canoe. On perceiving their danger, the woman called out to her companions: "Let us pray to the good St. Anne and she will save us." Hardly had she uttered these words, when the canoe right ed itself and drifted towards them so that our travelers, who had also got nearer together, were enabled to resume their places in it. Having been so miraculously saved, they gratefully acknowledged that they were indebted for their safety to Her whom they had invoked, and they too promised a high Mass in honor of their Benefactress.
The following Sunday, I related this wonderful escape to my Indians and invited them to show their gratitude to St. Anne by coming to the two high Masses which were to be sung the following week in her honor. The abundance of tears which they shed showed me what a tender devotion these children of the forest had for St. Anne and how desirous they were of testifying their love to her. I would frequently profit by these dispositions when I wished to persuade them to make the sacrifice of some passion or bad habit. I had only to say to them: " By indulging in anger, in drunkenness, in vengeance etc., you sadden the heart of good St. Anne, and show that you do not love her." These words generally sufficed for obtaining extraordinary conversions.
My beloved Patroness, St. Anne, the Apostle has warned me that the world is but a stage on which every one appears for a moment to play a more or less brilliant part, and then vanishes for ever; and he thence concludes that those who use this world should be as if they used it not. What folly then to attach oneself to things which are not only transitory, but which, by their seductions, can imperil our real interests, those which will not pass away! But I stand in need of grace to enable me to resist the pernicious influence of the maxims, customs and examples of this perverse world! It is by thy intercession and that of thy blessed spouse St. Joachim that I hope to obtain this grace. Do thou and he vouchsafe to watch over me for the glory of JESUS and Mary.
Good St. Anne, pray for me, that I may obtain the grace of triumphing over human respect.
Using the above consideration, examine your conscience on your relationship with God and the world.