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 II. The History Of The Generation And Heavenly Birth Of Divine Love.
Ch 14. Of The Sentiment Of Divine Love Which Is Had By Faith.
When God gives us faith he enters into our soul and speaks to our spirit, not by manner of discourse, but by way of inspiration, proposing in so sweet a manner unto the understanding that which ought to be believed, that the will receives therefrom a great complacency, so great indeed that it moves the understanding to consent and yield to truth without any doubt or distrust, and here lies the marvel: for God proposes the mysteries of faith to our souls amidst obscurities and darkness, in such sort that we do not see the truths but we only half-see them.(1)
It is like what happens sometimes when the face of
the earth is covered with mist so that we cannot see
the sun, but only see a little more brightness in the
direction where he is. Then, as one would say, we see
it without seeing it; because on the one hand we see
it not so well that we can truly say we see it, yet
again we see it not so little that we can say we do
not see it; and this is what we call half-seeing. And
yet, when this obscure light of faith has entered our
spirit, not by force of reasoning or show of
argument, but solely by the sweetness of its
presence, it makes the understanding believe and obey
it with so much authority that the certitude it gives
us of the truth surpasses all other certitudes, and
keeps the understanding and all its workings in such
subjection that they get no hearing in comparison
Yea, verily, Theotimus, even as the commanders of the army of Israel taking off their garments, put them together and made a royal throne of them, on which they placed Jehu, and said: Jehu is king:(3) so on the arrival of faith, the understanding puts off all discourse and arguments, and laying them underneath faith, makes her sit upon them, acknowledging her as Queen, and with great joy cries out: Long live faith!
Pious discourses and arguments, the miracles and other advantages of the Christian religion, make it extremely credible and knowable, but faith alone makes it believed and acknowledged, enamouring men with the beauty of its truth, and making them believe the truth of its beauty, by means of the sweetness faith pours into their wills, and the certitude which it gives to their understanding.
The Jews saw the miracles and heard the marvellous
teachings of Our Saviour, but being indisposed to
receive faith, that is, their will not being
susceptible of the gentle sweetness of faith, on
account of the bitterness and malice with which they
were filled, they persisted in their infidelity. They
perceived the force of the argument, but they
relished not the sweetness of the conclusion, and
therefore did not acquiesce in its truth. But the act
of faith consists in this very acquiescence of our
spirit, which having received the grateful light of
truth, accepts it by means of a sweet, yet powerful
and solid assurance and certitude which it finds in
the authority of the revelation which has been made
The inquisition then and the disputation are made in the priests' court by the doctors, but the resolution and acquiescence are formed in the sanctuary, where the Holy Ghost who animates the body of his Church, speaks by the mouth of its chiefs, as Our Lord has promised. In like manner the ostrich lays her eggs upon the sands of Libya, but the sun alone hatches her young ones; and doctors by their inquiry and discourse propose truth, but only the beams of the sun of justice give certainty and acquiescence.
To conclude then, Theotimus, this assurance which
man's reason finds in things revealed and in the
mysteries of faith, begins by an amorous sentiment of
complacency which the will receives from the beauty
and sweetness of the proposed truth; so that faith
includes a beginning of love, which the heart feels
towards divine things.