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Pope speaks on St. Francis de Sales, total acceptance of God's will

March 02, 2011

Continuing his weekly series of talks on doctors of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI devoted his public audience of March 2 to the influence of St. Francis de Sales (1567- 1622).

Early in his life, the Pope told the crowd in the Paul VI auditorium, St. Francis “underwent a profound crisis which led him to question himself about his own eternal salvation and about the destiny God had in store for him.” He eventually resolved that crisis by recognizing “the radical and liberating truth of God's love.” For the rest of his life he was committed to trusting in God’s love, and encouraging others to do the same.

As Bishop of Geneva, St. Francis de Sales was plunged in to the controversies of the day, defending Catholic teachings in a strongly Calvinist region. He was determined to see the reforms of the Council of Trent carried out in his diocese, and to encourage lay spirituality.

In his classic Introduction to the Devout Life, Pope Benedict observed, St. Francis “made a call which may have appeared revolutionary at that time”—and a call that anticipated a central teaching of Vatican II—by insisting that all the faithful, including the laity, can “belong completely to God while being fully present in the world.”

In another work, his Treatise on the Love of God, St. Francis offered a deeper reflection on identifying completely with God, submerging one’s own desires, “in order to live in complete abandonment, not only to the will of God, but to what pleases Him.”


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