Submitted by frlarry on Wed, 03/02/2011 - 15:45

Pope Benedict XVI reflects on the contributions of St. Francis de Sales, focusing on his magnum opus, Treatise on the Love of God, in "St. Francis of Sales: Great Master of Spirituality and Peace." Of particular interest is an observation in his opening statement:

The saint "found peace in the radical and liberating truth of God's love: loving Him without asking anything in return and trusting in divine love; this would be the secret of his life".

This is love freely given, both by God and by the saint. It's the love that expects nothing in return. It reminds me of something St. Therese of Lisieux said.

“In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands... All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish to be clothed in Your own Justice...”

(See "The Little Way of St Thérèse of Lisieux.")

I guess you could say this is the flip side of St. Francis' expecting nothing in return. St. Therese had a burning vocation to love, yet she sensed that there was nothing meritorious in this in God's vision, not because God didn't care, quite the opposite, because God's own infinite love dwarfs all human love to the infinitesimal. God, in his love, desires that we love him, not for his own sake, but for ours. The closer we come to love without a trace of vanity and without a trace of selfish interest, the closer we approach the love given to God by these great saints.

Pope Benedict, in also referring to St. Francis' "trusting in divine love," echoes St. Therese' childlike trust in God's infinite love, which she knew God gave freely, knowing that us mere humans could not return such love. I can think of no clearer examples of the theological virtue of Hope. It's virtually indistinguishable from the theological virtue of Faith, and inseparable from the theological virtue of Love.