I think it’s a good day for a little Fénelon


I thought this might be a good meditation to start Election Day. For those new to my blog, Fénelon was the Archbishop of Cambrai in the 17th century. He wrote a number of letters to Christians he was discipling who were in the court of King Louis XIV who ran a very immoral court. Fénelon had a gift for saying a lot in a short space. This one seemed very appropriate for today.

I think you know what God requires of you. The question is, will you do it? You understand that your love of self is causing the struggle you are having with the will of God. So now what you must decide is this: are you going to allow pride and selfish ambitions to keep you from doing what God in His mercy wants you to do? You are so careful about passing thoughts which bob into your mind and out again, and worry about so many details that you should not be thinking about. Why are you not as careful about your continued resistance to the Holy Spirit? Is this continued resistance due to the fact that He has not given you what you want in a way that will flatter your ego?

What does it matter if you receive the gifts of grace as beggars receive bread? The gifts themselves are no less pure nor precious. God loves this beggar-like humility, and delights to send help to such people. Isn’t this the way you put off self by humbling yourself before God and confessing yourself helpless without Him? Isn’t humility an instrument of God which makes us have faith in Him rather than ourselves? Isn’t this the way that you die to the life of self within? And if not, then what do you expect to accomplish by all your reading about pure love and your frequent devotions? How can you read what condemns the very depths of your soul? You need to understand that you are being influenced by selfish pride when you reject the gifts of God, just because they do not come in a shape that suits your taste. It is difficult for me to understand how you can pray when you have an attitude like this. What is God telling you in the depths of your soul? He asks nothing but death, and you desire nothing but life. How can you send up to Him a prayer for His grace, with a restriction that He shall send it only by a channel demanding no sacrifice on your part? Can you expect God to minister to the gratification of selfish pride?

Francis Fénelon, “Letter 9: We Are Not to Choose the Manner in Which Our Blessings Shall Be Bestowed,” from Let Go (New Kensington: Whitaker House, 1973).

2 thoughts on “I think it’s a good day for a little Fénelon

  1. You know how much I love the words of Fenelon. Thanks for posting this. I know I will be using some of his words in my pride study as well. I don’t know anyone else who can say it like Fenelon!

    Liked by 1 person

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