Tag Archives: Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Treatise on the Love of God

Treatise on the Love of God

by St. Francis de Sales (1616; contemporary English edition, 2011)

Francis was the Bishop of Geneva and made it his life’s work to try to win back Catholics lost to the Protestant Reformation. He was hugely successful. St. Francis de Sales is known more for his earlier work, Introduction to the Devout Life, which he addressed to “Philothea”, as a stand-in for the soul (though it was written as a series of correspondence to an actual lady).  This work is addressed to “Theotimus”, due to some objections by men that they did not want to take advice addressed to a woman. De Sales decided to give equal time, though I suspect he would have preferred to keep the addressee feminine had there been no objections to the first book. It obviously bothered him at least a little, as he goes on about it in the preface. In the end, it turns out to be a minor thing. The end result is a great book. Or actually twelve books.

This is a modern abridged version that takes twelve books down to twelve chapters. Since this work, like The Cloud of Unknowing, is referenced by many other writers, it seemed like one with which I should familiarize myself.

I offer two excerpts from this one. First, from Chapter 6, “Contemplation and Meditation–Love in Prayer”:

This makes contemplation quite different than meditation, which nearly always takes a lot of effort on our part. Meditation is like eating. It is necessary to chew, turning spiritual meat this way and that between the teeth of consideration. Working on it, we grind it up to make it digestible. Contemplation is like drinking. There is no protracted labor by our teeth. We calmly swallow our drink with pleasure. There is even the possibility of sacred drunkenness. We can contemplate frequently and ardently enough to be completely out of ourselves and totally in God. This is quite different from inebriation of the flesh. It does not make us dull and stupid. Instead of lowering us to the level of animals, it lifts us to the level of angels. It allows us to live more in God than in ourselves.

To arrive at contemplation, we must hear the word of God, confer with others on spiritual matters, read, pray, sing, and conceive worthy thoughts.

– pg. 52

And from Chapter 11, “The Love of God Inspires Other Virtues”, in a section titled, “Fruit of the Spirit”:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galations 5:22-23). Notice, Theotimus, that when Paul lists the various qualities of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, he counts them as one single fruit. He does not begin with the plural, “fruits.” He uses the singular. This is why: “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5). Love is the only fruit of the Holy Spirit. This one fruit has an infinite number of excellent properties. Paul mentions a few of them as examples. When we state that the fruit of the vine is grapes, wine, brandy, the drink “to gladden the human heart” (Psalm 104:15 NRSV), the beverage that settles the stomach [1 Timothy 5:23], we do not mean all these different things grow on the vine. There is only one fruit, yet it has many different qualities depending on how it is used.

Paul simply means that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. This love can be joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, and gentle, and it can improve self-control. Divine love prompts all these things and more.

Love is the life of the spirit.

– pg.  127




The Sanctifier

The Sanctifier

by Archbishop Luis M. Martinez (2003; originally 1957 (English))

I had almost forgotten how good this book is. Luckily I had left a few bookmarks throughout the book that helped me locate the parts that really made an impact on me. Archbishop Martinez is an enjoyable writer to read, which I had really forgotten. Strange, as I had read this only about two years ago. Not so strange, perhaps, due to the other good books I have read since then.

Martinez, a Mexican archbishop, wrote this sometime before his death in 1956. It was promptly translated into English and published a year later, with an observation by the translator that this was overdue. That hint is the closest I can come to determining when the original Spanish edition was released.

There is an abridged version of this called True Devotion to the Holy Spirit, which leaves off the fourth and final–and worthwhile–section on the Beatitudes. So be warned that an online shopper might be prompted to purchase both of them together, with that ever-present suggestion, “readers who bought this, bought that”. If they did, they shouldn’t have.

(You can read a few pages, common to both, from the abridged edition.)

After a section consisting of a succession of short topical chapters that share the title of the aforementioned abridged edition, follow a section on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (first referenced by the prophet Isaiah) and another on the Fruit of the Holy Spirit (which ought to be familiar to anyone who has read the epistles of St. Paul).

I particularly like his treatment of the Gifts, as he always gives a hierarchy of each gift. For instance, about the Gift of Counsel, he first talks about natural human prudence by which we conduct our worldly affairs. Then he speaks about supernatural virtuous prudence through which we navigate the difficulties of life. Finally he goes into divine prudence, which he tells us is the Holy Spirit’s Gift of Counsel, describing it as the equivalent of getting advice from above the level of our intelligence, and further outlining three degrees of progress in this gift. I can hardly do it justice in one summary paragraph, so I encourage you to read it for yourself.

I will give an excerpt, though. I would be tempted to take it from Chapter 18 of Part I, “Our Response to Christ Crucified”, but it would be too lengthy. Indeed, it would be tempting to offer most if not all of that chapter. Instead I give you something shorter from Part IV “The Beatitudes”. Here follows a relatively short passage from Chapter 8, ‘The Seventh Beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Mt. 5:9)’:

The fruit of wisdom and love is peace. But have we not said that peace was produced in the soul by the virtues and gifts proper to the earlier stages? Did not the first three beatitudes bring peace by tearing out of the soul the roots of restlessness? And did not justice and mercy establish proper relations with others?

The work accomplished by the active life was indeed a work of peace, but it was negative. It was the war that prepared the peace by shattering our enemies; it was the relentless sickle that prepared the harvest by cutting down the weeds; it was the strong wind that hurried the dark clouds along so that the sun might shine.

Pure peace is something divine that only wisdom and love can produce. To be peaceful, it is not enough to live in sweet concord with our brother. It is not sufficient to have all our powers in tranquil harmony under the empire of the will. Rather, all the desires of the soul must be fused in one single divine desire, all flowing as one great torrent, with no scattered currents of affection anywhere. The soul must be simple as God is simple, so that all things can be unified.

– pg. 338

(NOTE: The term “simple” as used above is not meant in the usual sense to convey any of: unintelligent, uncomplicated, humble, or unadorned, which are all common meanings of the word. Here it is used in the less-common sense of “undivided; whole; not complex; not made of many constituent parts each subject to analysis”. This is a recurring connotation that you will run into in many spiritual writings.)