IF you would dance or play rightly, it must be done as a recreation,
not as a pursuit, for a brief space of time, not so as make you unfit
for other things, and even then but seldom. If it is a constant habit,
recreation turns into occupation. You will ask when it is right to
dance or play? The occasions on which it is right to play at
questionable games are rare; ordinary games and dances may be indulged
in more frequently. But let your rule be to do so chiefly when
courteous consideration for others among whom you are thrown requires
it, subject to prudence and discretion; for consideration towards
others often sanctions things indifferent or dangerous, and turns them
to good, taking away what is evil. Thus certain games of chance, bad in
themselves, cease to be so to you, if you join in them merely out of a
due courtesy. I have been much comforted by reading in the Life of S.
Carlo Borromeo, how he joined in certain things to please the Swiss,
concerning which ordinarily he was very strict; as also how S. Ignatius
Loyola, when asked to play, did so. As to S. Elizabeth of Hungary, she
both played and danced occasionally, when in society, without thereby
hindering her devotion, which was so firmly rooted that, like the rocks
of a mountain lake, it stood unmoved amid the waves and storms of pomp
and vanity which it encountered.
Great fires are fanned by the wind, but a little one is soon
extinguished if left without shelter.