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 5. Of the Affections of the Will.
There are no fewer movements in the intellectual or reasonable appetite which is called the will, than there are in the sensitive or sensual, but the first are customarily named affections, the latter passions.
The philosophers and pagans did in some manner
love God, the state, virtue, sciences; they hated
vice, aspired after honours, despaired of escaping
death or calumny, were desirous of knowledge, yea
even of beatitude after death. They encouraged
themselves to surmount the difficulties which cross
the way of virtue, dreaded blame, avoided some
faults, avenged public injuries, opposed tyrants,
without any self-interest. Now all these movements
were seated in the reasonable part, since the senses,
and consequently, the sensual appetite, are not
capable of being applied to these objects, and
therefore these movements were affections of the
intellectual or reasonable appetite, not passions of
In this consists the war which we daily experience between the spirit and the flesh : between our exterior man, which is under the senses, and the interior which is under the reason; between the old Adam who follows the appetites of his Eve, or concupiscence, and the new Adam who follows heavenly wisdom and holy reason.
The Stoics, as S. Augustine remarks,(1) denying that the wise man can have passions, appear to have confessed that he has affections, which they term eupathies, or good passions, or, as Cicero called them, constancies : for they said the wise man did not covet but desired, had not glee but joy; that he had no fear, but only foresight and precaution, so that he was not moved except by reason and according to reason : for this cause they peremptorily denied that a wise man could ever be sorrowful, that being caused by present evil, whereas no evil can befal a wise man, since no man is hurt but by himself, according to their maxim.
And truly, Theotimus, they were not wrong in
holding that there are eupathies and good affections
in the reasonable part of man, but they erred much in
saying that there were no passions in the sensitive
part, and that sorrow did not touch a wise man's
heart: for omitting the fact that they themselves
were troubled in this kind (as was just said), how
could it be that wisdom should deprive us of pity,
which is a virtuous sorrow and which comes into our
hearts in order to make them desire to deliver our
neighbour from the evil which he endures? And the
wisest man of all paganism, Epictetus, did not hold
this error that passions do not rise in the wise man,
as S. Augustine witnesses, showing further that the
Stoics difference with other philosophers on this
subject was but a mere dispute of words and strife of
The first are called natural affections, for who is he that does not naturally desire health, his provision of food and clothing, sweet and agreeable conversation? The second class of affections are named reasonable, as being altogether founded upon the spiritual knowledge of the reason, by which our will is excited to seek tranquillity of heart, moral virtues, true honour, the contemplation of eternal things. The third sort of affections are termed Christian, because they issue from reasonings founded on the doctrine of Our Lord, who makes us love voluntary Poverty, perfect Chastity, the glory of heaven. But the affections of the supreme degree are named divine and supernatural because God himself spreads them abroad in our spirits, and because they regard God and aim at him, without the medium of any reasoning, or any light of nature, as it will be easy to understand from what we shall say afterwards about the acquiescences and affections which are made in the sanctuary of the soul.
And these supernatural affections are principally
three: the love of the mind for the beautiful in the
mysteries of faith, love for the useful in the goods
which are promised us in the other life, and love for
the sovereign good of the most holy and eternal