‘The Art of Loving God’

St. Francis de Sales has done it again. And by “it,” I mean “proven himself brilliant via a book.” Yesterday, I finished The Art of Loving God: Simple Virtues for the Christian Life, which is a series of talks he gave to a bunch of nuns, edited a little so what’s in it is relevant for laity.

De Sales discusses tough stuff: Humility. Obedience. Mortification. Holding ourselves to higher standards than we have before. Cutting ourselves slack where we should. Lots of it resonated (which means I underlined lots of it while I read). Here are 10 of my favorite excerpts:

“Humility does not consist only in mistrust of ourselves, but also in confidence in God.” -page 31

“The second condition of obedience is promptitude, to which is opposed spiritual sloth or sadness, for it seldom happens that a soul in sadness does a thing promptly and diligently. In theological language, sloth is called spiritual sadness, and as such it prevents us from yielding brave and prompt obedience.” -page 42

“…when it is merely a question of simple disinclination and dislike of the thing we are commanded to do, we must just make an act of love and then set to work. Even our Lord in His Passion shrank with an unspeakable horror and a mortal loathing from the pains of death. He says so Himself, but with the fine point of His spirit, He was resigned to the will of His Father.” -pages 44-45

“…we must be content to wait regarding whether we shall attain the result of our aims sooner or later, leaving that to Divine Providence, which will not fail to console us at the appointed time. And even if that should not be until the hour of our death, we ought to be satisfied, so long as we fulfill our duty by always doing all that depends on us and all that is in our power.” -page 50

“Realize that the smallest distraction does not withdraw your soul from God, for nothing withdraws us from God but sin.” -page 85

“I have before observed that many people do not distinguish between God and the feeling of God, between faith and the feeling of faith, which is a very great defect. It seems to them that when they do not feel God, they are not in his presence, which is a mistake. … There is a difference between being in the presence of God and having the feeling of His presence.” -page 91

“…should we happen to say some little thing that seems to us not to be received as we would wish, we must not on that account waste time in weighing and searching into all our words. No, it is indeed self-love, undoubtedly, which makes us inquire so closely whether our words and actions have been well received or not.” -page 117

“Holy simplicity does not run after its words and actions, but leaves the result of them to Divine Providence, on whom it absolutely depends.” -page 118

“…your well-being depends on your allowing yourself to be guided and governed by the Spirit of God without reserve.” -page 119

“For what is there that can disturb or move those … who have abandoned themselves to His love and have resigned themselves to His good pleasure?” -page 126

[callout]Click here for more information about or to order the Art of Loving God: Simple Virtues for the Christian Life by St. Francis de Sales.[/callout]