DeSales and True Devotion part 1

I believe in the Kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
But yes, I’m still running

You broke the bonds
and you loosened chains
carried the cross of my shame, of my shame
You know I believe it

– U2 “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

So proclaims lead singer Bono in one of U2’s hit songs. Tragically he follows this beautiful statement of faith with the title quote, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m looking For.” As a priest, this sentiment quite concerning and one which I encounter entirely too often. I believe that the cross of Christ provides man with his deepest meaning and fulfillment; it is the very perfection of a selfless and self-sacrificing love for which we all long. And yet, we all too often feel like something is missing. We, who call ourselves Christians, may be able to profess Christ as our true fulfillment, our true hope, but still we cry out with Bono, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Why? Is the love of Christ not enough?

St. Francis DeSales responds that it is not that Christ’s love is not enough, but that we have not given ourselves fully to it. To experience the fullness of what Christ offers, we must offer ourselves fully to Christ. This is the thesis of DeSales’ work Introduction to the Devout Life.

The Devout life, according to DeSales:

“consists in perfect charity, so it not only makes us active, ready, and diligent in keeping God’s commandments, but furthermore it stimulates us to the eager and loving performance of all the good works.”

St. Francis DeSales

I have had moments in my life in which I feel like this. Where doing what is good and loving is not only perfect is not only possible is enjoyable and desirable, but then moments later I find myself resistant to the good that I know God is calling me too. Here DeSales compares me to “the common fowl” within a continuum of birds in their pattern of flight. He says:

“the ostrich never flies, the common fowl flies but seldom, and then heavily and near the ground, but the swallow, the dove, and the eagle are ever on the wing, they fly far and eaily. Even so sinners ris not to God, but always grovel on the earth in pursuing earthly things; well-meaning people who are as yet not truly devout, mount up to God in good works, bur rarely, slowly, and heavily; whilst the devout fly to Him perpetually, soaring lightly.”

St. Francis DeSales

For those of us struggling with a feeling of emptiness even in the fullness of the faith, DeSales urges us more deeply. We must go further up and further in if we are to truly find what we are looking for, the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams, the love of God Himself.

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