"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."

St Philip Neri

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"Obedience is a short cut to perfection."

St Philip Neri

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"If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel."

Thomas á Kempis

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St. Francis de Sales  (1567-1622)
 Bishop, Founder of the Visitation and Doctor of the Church


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.

Yet we do not utter our discourse nor the thoughts which proceed from the spiritual portion of our soul, which we call reason, and by which we are distinguished from beasts, except by words, and consequently by help of the mouth; insomuch that to pour out our soul and open out our heart is nothing else but to speak. Pour out your hearts before God,(3) says the Psalmist, that is, express and turn the affections of your hearts into words. And Samuel's pious mother pronouncing her prayers so softly that one could hardly discern the motion of her lips: I have poured out my soul before the Lord,(4) said she. And thus one mouth is applied to another in kissing to testify that we would desire to pour out one soul into the other, to unite them reciprocally in a perfect union.

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.

When the Holy Ghost would express a perfect love, he almost always employs words expressing union or conjunction. And the multitude of believers, says S. Luke, had but one heart and one soul.(7) Our Saviour prayed for all the faithful that they all may be one.(8) S. Paul warns us to be careful to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."(9) These unities of heart, of soul and of spirit signify the perfection of love which joins many souls in one. So it is said that Jonathan's soul was knit to David's, that is to say, as the Scripture adds, He loved him as his own soul.(10)

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.

1. Cant. i. 1.
2. Eccli. xix. 26.
3. Ixi. 9.
4. I Kings i. 15.
5. Rom. xvi. 16; 1 Cor. xvi. 20.
6. Of Ghent, uncle of the heretic, but himself an orthodox and esteemed writer. (Tr.)
7. Acts iv. 32.
8. John xvii. 21.
9. Eph. iv. 3.
10. I Kings xviii. 1.