St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Catholic belief, prayers and spiritual teaching
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
|TREATISE ON THE LOVE OF GOD|
By St Francis de Sales
Book I. Containing A Preparation For The Whole Treatise.
Ch 9. That Love Tends to Union.
The great Solomon describes, in an admirably delicious manner, the loves of the Saviour and the devout soul, in that divine work which for its excellent sweetness is named the Canticle of Canticles. And to raise ourselves by a more easy flight to the consideration of this spiritual love which is exercised between God and us by the correspondence of the movements of our hearts with the inspirations of his divine majesty, he makes use of a perpetual representation of the loves of a chaste shepherd and a modest shepherdess.
Now making the spouse or bride begin first by manner of a certain surprise of love, he first puts into her mouth this ejaculation:Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth.(1) Notice, Theotimus, how the soul, in the person of this shepherdess, has but the one aim, in the first expression of her desire, of a chaste union with her spouse, protesting that it is the only end of her ambition and the only thing she aspires after; for, I pray you, what other thing would this first sigh intimate? Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth.
A kiss from all ages as by natural instinct has
been employed to represent perfect love, that is, the
union of hearts, and not without cause: we express
and make known our passions and the movements which
our souls have in common with the animals, by our
eyes, eyebrows, forehead and the rest of our
countenance. Man is known by his look,(2) says the
Scripture, and Aristotle giving a reason why
ordinarily it is only the faces of great men that are
portrayed,- it is, says he, because the face shows
what we are.
For this reason, at all times and amongst the most saintly men the world has had, the kiss has been a sign of love and affection, and such use was universally made of it amongst the ancient Christians as the great S. Paul testifies, when, writing to the Romans and Corinthians, he says, Salute one another in a holy kiss.(5) And as many declare, Judas in betraying Our Saviour made use of a kiss to manifest him, because this divine Saviour was accustomed to kiss his disciples when he met them; and not only his disciples but even little children, whom he took lovingly in his arms; as he did him by whose example he so solemnly invited his disciples to the love of their neighbour, whom many think to have been S. Martial, as the Bishop Jansenius(6) says.
Thus then the kiss being a lively mark of the
union of hearts, the spouse who has no other aim in
all her endeavours than to be united to her beloved,
Let him kiss me, says she, with the kiss of his
mouth; as if she cried out: -so many sighs and
inflamed darts which my love throws out will they
never impetrate that which my soul desires? I run -
Ah! shall I never gain the prize towards which I urge
myself, which is to be united heart to heart, spirit
to spirit, to my God, my spouse my life? When will
the hour come in which I shall pour my soul into his
heart, and he will pour his heart into my soul, and
thus happily united we shall live inseparable.
The great Apostle of France (S. Denis) as well
according to his own sentiment as when giving that of
his Hierotheus, writes a hundred times, I think, in a
single chapter of the De Nominibus Divinis, that love
is unifying, uniting, drawing together, embracing,
collecting and bringing all things to unity! S.
Gregory Nazianzen and S. Augustine say that their
friends and they had but one soul, and Aristotle
approving already in his time this manner of speech:
" When," says he, " we would express how much we love
our friends, we say his and my soul is but one."
Hatred separates us, and love brings us into one. The
end then of love is no other thing than the union of
the lover and the thing loved.