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Francis De Sales, Jane De Chantal: Letters of Spiritual Direction (Classics of Western Spirituality) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   296
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1988
Publisher   Paulist Press
ISBN  0809129906  
EAN  9780809129904  

Availability  0 units.

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Item Description...
Offered here in fresh translation are the letters of spiritual direction of two seventeenth century mystical writers, Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal. These letters show us the daily attempts of laity, clergy, cloistered religious, bishops, and obscure windows to live in the authentic spirit of Jesus, and will speak not only to the historian of the period, but to all contemporary readers. This collection is unique, since many of these letters, which are treasures of lived Salesian teaching, are translated for the first time into the English language. It is also the first time that the letters have been presented together, and that a scholarly and comprehensive introduction to the Salesian spiritual tradition, as embodied in the lives and writings of both Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal, has been attempted.

Publishers Description
The most in-depth and scholarly panorama of Western spirituality ever attempted

In one series, the original writings of the universally acknowledged teachers of the Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Islamic and Native American traditions have been critically selected, translated and introduced by internationally recognized scholars and spiritual leaders.

The texts are first-rate, and the introductions are informative and reliable. The books will be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of every literate religious persons". -- The Christian Century

Buy Francis De Sales, Jane De Chantal: Letters of Spiritual Direction (Classics of Western Spirituality) by Saint De Sales Francis, Colonial Radio Players , Hector Flores, John Collins, Angelica Daneo, K. H. Lee, Eric Kingson & Kevin Nowlan from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780809129904 & 0809129906

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Mellow Advice in a Cantankerous Age  Sep 15, 2003
It is probably worth recapping the history of this remarkable series of spiritual writings provided by Paulist Press. In the late 1970s Paulist set out to provide a limited number of volumes of great western spiritual thinkers and authors. The original goal, as I recall, was to produce approximately eighty volumes for subscription or individual purchase, spread out over a period of about twenty years. Apparently the success of the series has prompted Paulist to continue the series indefinitely, and at last count the series is now at over one hundred volumes as it approaches the end of its third decade. It is worth noting that over the past thirty years the Paulists have stretched the term "Western" to encompass about two thirds of the globe, but no one is the poorer for that.

The volume at hand was published in 1988 and follows the established outline of all the works to date, an introduction to the author[s] followed by the texts themselves. This volume includes an unremarkable preface by Henri Nouwen. It appears that in this particular work at least some of the letters are making their first appearance in English, although in other volumes [Augustine, Francis of Assisi, etc.] it would seem that the effort has been to bring forth either more contemporary or more readable translations of works already in English translation.

The introduction of ninety pages outlines in broad strokes the lives of both Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal, as well as the general outline of Salesian spirituality. When compared to Franciscan or Jesuit spirituality, the Salesian ideal of a holy life may seem almost pedestrian, certainly not revolutionary. The emphases are fidelity to prayer, purity of intention, holiness within the marketplace, an assumption of a loving God and the attendant joy appropriate to that fact. The commentators are careful to give Jane her due, noting that she was not simply Francis de Sales's first disciple but a co-creator of the Salesian heritage.

There are 170 pages of letters of spiritual direction from both Francis and Jane. Francis's style reflects a French chivalry that might raise eyebrows today, given that he seemed to devote his considerable spiritual attention to women. Jane reflects a more practical style, given her role as foundress of the Visitandine Order of women, an unusual community for its time, which recruited more mature women with storied pasts and played down austerity for devotion, moderation, and charity. Jane is not the poet that Francis is, but as a widow with four grown children, her understanding of life is perhaps a touch more realistic. Jane's letters include some with a very practical bent: the management of miscreant novices, advice to her children about marriage, concerns about attached endowments, etc.

The commentators are wise to sketch the landscape of European Catholic life prior to the presentation of the letters themselves. The Salesian movement developed at the height of the counter-Reformation. The somewhat mellow style of Salesian/Visitandine spirituality and expression must be seen against the early seventeenth century rough and tumble ecclesiastical landscape, a time of bitter wrangling with matters of reform, sacramental discipline, free will and predestination. Roman Catholicism, less than a century removed from Luther, was quite skittish about novelty. It is worth remembering that at the time these letters were composed the scientist Galileo was coming under the scrutiny of Robert Bellarmine and the Inquisition. Neither Francis nor Jane appears to have raised the ire of the Inquisition, but the commentators hint that only Francis's open communication with Bellarmine allowed the somewhat unconventual Visitandines to survive.

One of the strengths of the Paulist Press series is its diversity. Not everyone will find this volume of letters an immediate source of stimulation or inspiration, nor is either writer particularly gifted in the art of spiritual metaphor. In terms of the entire series, this volume is definitely among the more sedate, though hardly without merit and useful for those of us who need to be called back to the basics. In fairness, it would probably serve the reader to examine three or four different volumes [eg. Julian of Norwich, Robert Bellarmine, Nil Sorsky, etc.] to form a judgment on the entire series.


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