Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Bishop of Geneva from 1602, was a renowned spiritual director who produced two classic guidebooks for earthly wayfarers on their spiritual journey to God: Introduction a la vie devote (Introduction to the Devout Life, 1609) and Traite’ de l’amour de Dieu (Treatise on the Love of God, or Of the Love of God, 1616). In the Introduction to the Devout Life, Francis shows how anyone, whatever his or her calling or station in life, can strive for and achieve a life a piety and devotion to God. It is filled with commonsense spiritual wisdom. Of the Love of God is a more detailed manual for those who are already somewhat advanced on their spiritual journey and are under the care of a personal spiritual director.
In this work, he describes the nature of divine love (Bk. II), the manner in which love is perfected in the lover (Bk. III), and the ways in which love can be diminished or lost (Bk. IV). He explains that divine love operates in the soul by acts of complacency and benevolence (Bk. V) and shows how this love is practiced through prayer and meditation (Bk. VI). Divine love, perfected by prayer, leads to union with God (Bk. VII), conformity of the soul’s will with the divine will (Bk. VIII), submission to the will of God (Bk. IX), and love of God above all created things (Bk. X). He illustrates how the virtues operate in a soul that has reached this spiritual plateau (Bk. XI) and concludes by offering practical counsels on how best to journey on the road to eternal union with God (Bk. XII). Because of Saint Francis’s keen spiritual insights and theological rectitude, Pope Pius IX in 1877 declared him a doctor of the Catholic Church. (Introduction by dave7)
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