Book Talk Tuesday, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 3, Chapter 32

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CHAPTER XXXII. Of Forbidden Amusements.

DICE, cards, and the like games of hazard, are not merely dangerous
amusements, like dancing, but they are plainly bad and harmful, and
therefore they are forbidden by the civil as by the ecclesiastical law.
What harm is there in them? you ask. Such games are unreasonable:–the
winner often has neither skill nor industry to boast of, which is
contrary to reason. You reply that this is understood by those who
play. But though that may prove that you are not wronging anybody, it
does not prove that the game is in accordance with reason, as victory
ought to be the reward of skill or labour, which it cannot be in mere
games of chance. Moreover, though such games may be called a
recreation, and are intended as such, they are practically an intense
occupation. Is it not an occupation, when a man’s mind is kept on the
stretch of close attention, and disturbed by endless anxieties, fears
and agitations? Who exercises a more dismal, painful attention than the
gambler? No one must speak or laugh,–if you do but cough you will
annoy him and his companions. The only pleasure in gambling is to win,
and this cannot be a satisfactory pleasure, since it can only be
enjoyed at the expense of your antagonist. Once, when he was very ill,
S. Louis heard that his brother the Comte d’Anjou and Messire Gautier
de Nemours were gambling, and in spite of his weakness the King
tottered into the room where they were, and threw dice and money and
everything out of the window, in great indignation. And the pure and
pious Sara, in her appeal to God, declared that she had never had
dealings with gamblers. [153]
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[153] It is not very clear what S. Francis means by this. In the
English version, Sara only says, “Thou knowest, Lord . . . that I never
polluted my name, nor the name of my father” (Tobit iii. 15). In the
Vulgate the words are “Numquam cum ludentibus miscui me; neque cum his,
qui in levitate ambulant, participem me praebui” (iii. 17).
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