Everything pertains to love! That’s the title of a new Papal letter out on St. Francis de Sales, Totum Amoris Est, published on the 400-yr anniversary of the death of de Sales. It inspired us. St. Francis’ description of the love of God uses emotional language instead of dry philosophical arguments. It’s striking how de Sales worked hard to make loving God be attractive to his contemporaries. It was also striking how de Sales described the devout life (being holy) in terms of having an interior energy and alertness that’s alive to God and the world instead of being a set of rules.
He lived in a time of religious wars, yet stressed that God always used attraction and persuasion to draw people to him. Despite being in the midst of violent religious strife, he did not retreat from the world but chose to engage in it.
Pope Francis, in this reflection on DeSales, leads us to discern our situations: What does love look like here? Where can love be found? de Sales poses these questions not as a theory or a sweet ideal, but as a man that was in full contact with the extreme conflicts of his day and as a spiritual advisor to thousands of men and women.
What great questions! Discerning what we need to do is our job and our challenge.
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