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St. Francis de Sales on the Love of God in relation to the Passion of Christ

3 min • Digitized on December 16, 2021

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 74
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley


Our Blessed Father considered that no thought is of such avail to urge us forward towards the perfection of divine love as the consideration of the Passion and Death of the Son of God. This he called the sweetest, and yet the most constraining of all motives of piety.

And when I asked him how he could possibly mention gentleness and constraint or violence in the same breath, he answered:

I can do so in the sense in which the Apostle says that the Charity of God presses us, constrains us, impels us, draws us, for such is the meaning of the word Urqet. [2 Cor. v. 14.] In the same sense as that in which the Holy Ghost in the Canticle of Canticles tells us that Love is as strong as death and fierce as hell.

He added:

We cannot deny that love is the very essence of sweetness, and the sweetener of all bitterness, yet see how it is compared to what is most irresistible, namely, death and hell. The reason of this is that as there is nothing so strong as the sweetness of love, so also there is nothing more sweet and more lovable than its strength.

Oil and honey are each smooth and sweet, but when boiling nothing is to be compared with the heat they give out.

The bee when not interfered with is the most harmless of insects; irritated its sting is the sharpest of all.

Jesus Crucified is the Lion of the tribe of Judah—He is the answer to Samson’s riddle, for in His wounds is found the honeycomb of the strongest charity, and from this strength proceeds the sweetness of our greatest consolation. And certainly since our Lord’s dying for us, as all Scripture testifies, is the climax of his love, it ought also to be the strongest of all our motives for loving Him.

This it is which made St. Bernard exclaim: “Oh, my Lord, I entreat Thee to grant that my whole heart may be so absorbed and, as it were, consumed in the burning strength and honeyed sweetness of Thy crucified love, that I may die for the love of Thy love, O Redeemer of my soul, as Thou hast deigned to die for the love of my love.”

It is this excess of love, which on the hill of Calvary drained the last drop of life-blood from the Sacred Heart of the Lover of our Souls; it is of this love that Moses and Elias spoke on Mount Thabor amid the glory of the Transfiguration.

They spoke of it to teach us that even in the glory of Heaven, of which the Transfiguration was Only a glimpse, after the vision of the goodness of God contemplated and loved in itself, and for itself, there will be no more powerful incentive towards the love of our Divine Saviour than the remembrance of His Death and Passion.

We have a signal testimony to this truth in the Apocalypse, where the Saints and Angels chant these words before the throne of Him that liveth for ever and ever: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benediction from every creature which is in Heaven, and on the earth.

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