Beauty comes from within

We shall make our third consideration on this point: that Our Lady was alone in her room when the angel came to salute her and bring her the blessed and gracious tidings of the Incarnation of the Word of God in her holy and chaste womb. What do religious do but remain in their cells and, not satisfied with that, withdraw into themselves to remain more alone and thus render themselves more capable of enjoying the conversation of their Spouse? They retire into the depths of their hearts as into a heavenly cabinet where they live in solitude. But in vain do you hide yourselves; the angels will know well how to find you. Do you not see that Our Lady, being all alone, was yet found by the angel Gabriel?

 Virgins and religious are never better pleased than when they are all alone to contemplate at leisure the beauty of their Heavenly Lover. They withdraw within themselves because all their care is in this interior beauty, and to preserve and increase it they are ever attentive to remove anything that could tarnish or disfigure it in the slightest degree. The beauty of the Daughter of Sion is within, says the Psalmist [Ps 44:14, Douay], because she knows well that the Divine Spouse beholds only her interior, while men see only the exterior [7 Sam 16:7; Ps 7:10]. Now this beloved spouse is the soul who consecrates herself to follow His divine loves and who desires to please only Him; therefore she withdraws entirely into herself to prepare for Him an agreeable dwelling place. Thus in religion the exercise of the presence of God is so highly recommended and is of incomparable help. We see the proof of this in the fact that Our Lady, when practicing it and remaining recollected, merited at the same time to be chosen to be Mother of God.


Saint Francis de Sales, Sermons for the Feast of the Annunciation,

March 25, 1621