First Sunday of Advent (December 3, 2017)

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. The readings remind us to be aware of our need for Christ who strengthens us until the end. St. Francis de Sales constantly stress the importance of living Jesus so that we may become fully human. But to live Jesus calls for the spirit of liberty. In a letter to Jane de Chantal he writes:

It is clear what God’s will is regarding the commandments and the duties of our vocation. However, there are many other things I am not obliged to do either by the general commandments of God or by the duties of my own vocation. With these it is necessary to consider carefully in liberty of spirit what would tend to the greatest glory of God. I said “liberty of spirit” because this needs to be done without pressure or anxiety. If it is not a matter of great importance, then we should not invest a great concern in it, but after a little thought decide. And if later the action or decision doesn’t seem good, I must in no way blame or bother myself about it, but rather trust in God and laugh at myself.

Do all through love, nothing through constraint. Love obedience more than you fear disobedience. I want you to have a liberty of spirit that excludes constraints, scruples and anxiety, not the kind that excludes obedience (this is freedom of the flesh). If you really love obedience and docility, I’d like to think that when some legitimate or charitable cause takes you away from your religious exercises, this would be for you another form of obedience. And your love would make up for whatever you have to omit in your religious practice. In all things a holy liberty and freedom must reign and we must have no other law or coercion than that of love. Whether love invites us to make something for the poor or for the rich, it does all things well and is equally pleasing to our Lord.

(Joseph Power, OSFS & Wendy M. Wright, Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal)