Its twelve short, easily read chapters represent excerpts from twelve books that Francis de Sales wrote on the love of God.
It’s a 16th century masterpiece on Christian Spirituality that’s been modernized by an equally gifted editor from our Western 21st century: Bernard Bangley.
Some excerpts, from it, follow to whet your appetite:
“ Those who begin bold and noble undertakings for God and calmly fail have a special blessing. … Jonah performed God’s will when he announced Nineveh’s destruction, but his own interests became mingled with the will of God.… He was offended … If God’s will were his only motive, he would have been pleased that [God had compassion on Nineveh].… We want our projects to succeed. [But] it is not reasonable to expect God to act exactly as we wish .… My point is that we should be ready to calmly accept it if things do not work out the way we intended.… [God is maturing us in our failures.] We are not responsible for results that are beyond our control.… Be sorry for your faults with a strong, tranquil repentance, but do not be troubled” (98–100).
“In the beginning of our devotion we love God, wanting to be together with him and to demonstrate his love to others. A change gradually takes place. … we begin to love God for the pleasure [and the things] we receive in the process itself.… Isn’t it clear that in making this subtle change we no longer seek God, but turn to ourselves, loving the love instead of loving the beloved” (101)?
“Prying, ambition, anxiety, ignoring our purpose for being in this world: these are the reasons for which we have a thousand times more worries than work and more occupation than profit. These do not represent our true business. They are wasteful activities that we allow to distract us from the love of God.… Necessary employment, according to each person’s vocation, does not hinder divine love. It increases and gilds the work of devotion.… The devout heart loves God no less when it turns from prayer to necessary business. Silence and speech, activity and contemplation, work and rest provide equal opportunity to sing a hymn of love” (133–34).
“As love desires good for the object loved, so it abhors any evil that is contrary to what is loved. What is the nature of God’s jealousy? At first glance, it may appear to be no different from the jealousy of husbands for their wives. He will have us to be his alone.… [But] God’s jealousy is quite different from that of a jealous spouse. … Its source is supreme friendship. It is not in God’s interest that we should love him, but ours. God has little need of our love, but it is a great gain for us.… And yet God grieves when we do not respond with love [Jeremiah 2:13] … It is as though God is saying, ‘This causes me no injury. A gushing spring of water is not harmed because no one drinks water from it.… My grief comes from the realization of their loss.… I am concerned about what is good for them. To forsake me is to perish. To turn away from me is to stumble and fall.’ … It is God’s love for us that desires love in return. If any part of our total affection is taken away from God, we lose.… God’s jealousy, then, is not a jealousy of self-interest. It is a pure jealousy that is a part of a noble and simple friendship” (104–106).
If you’re intrigued and want more, before fully reading Paraclete Press’s version of Treatise on the Love of God, I’d be happy to share further quotes and my annotations from it and am here, should you want to discuss it further.