Francis quickly gained a reputation as a masterful communicator of things spiritual. Among his many writings, two deserve particular mention as spiritual classics.
The first — an Introduction to the Devout Life — was published in 1609 and was the forerunner of what the Second Vatican Council would later teach as the "universal call to holiness." This book, addressed to the fictional "Philothea" (a soul loving, or in love with, God), proposes a simple yet at that time revolutionary idea, namely, that devotion is possible in every state and condition of life.
The second work — his Treatise on the Love of God — was published in 1616 and is a more far-reaching and thorough attempt at analyzing the workings of divine love in human life. Supported by a sound philosophy and psychology of the human person, and annotated with explanations from the bible and examples from the world of nature, this treatise seeks to spell out in detail the quest for the soul's union with the will of God, as learned through meditation and contemplation. Though not as widely circulated as the Introduction, this book, together with his many other writings, constitute a written legacy that can be trusted to lead readers surely and certainly along the way to God.
The popularity of Francis' writing may be attributed to two factors. On the one hand, his instructions on the devout life are filled with great spiritual imagination. Acknowledged as a literary genius in his own right, Francis is able to paint meaning with words and to convey truth through metaphoric language. On the other hand, this imaginative power is clearly directed to a practical end. His writings address the common needs of everyday people, and he teaches them that the profound mysteries of God's love can be appropriated in the virtues of everyday living. In a world today which is inundated with questionable messages carried by film and television, the imaginative writings of Francis de Sales offer a treasure of spiritual wisdom that anyone and everyone can count on.
For more on the "Doctor of the Church" ...
► "St. Francis de Sales: Doctor of the Church"
For more of the Salesian Legacy ...
► Celebrating the Bishop of Geneva
► Celebrating the Christian Humanist
► Celebrating the Lawyer and Cathedral Provost
► Celebrating the Patron of Journalists and Writers