The Concept of Freedom in the Writings of St. Francis de Sales
Freedom… religious liberty… 4th of July….
All these words stir up particular sentiments in our hearts.
St. Francis de Sales had his own unique perspective on freedom, and Fr. Eunan McDonnell, SDB, in his book, The Concept of Freedom in the Writings of St. Francis de Sales, makes a timely and important contribution to both scholarship and daily living.
Fr. Alexander Pocetto, OSFS, says in his foreword to the book,”Fr. Eunan McDonnell, SDB, has tackled the formidable task of the concept of freedom in the works of the Doctor of Love with those qualities of a pearl diver so esteemed by the saint and has uncovered for us many facets of his teachings that shine forth like inestimable pearls. Taking the intellectual temper of our times in mind as the saint himself avowedly did in writing the above-mentioned spiritual classic, (Treatise on the Love of God)Fr. Eunan has brought to bear his not inconsiderable acute powers of analysis and a solid background in philosophy, theology and spirituality to bear on his reading and understanding of many of the saint’s texts and certain aspects of his life.
..The relationship between freedom and love, that is woven into the very fabric of the saint’s writings and life and uses it very effectively to unfold for us the rich implications of this fundamental and optimistic orientation.
Fr. Eunan faces squarely the climate of many misrepresentations and misconceptions in our world today of the concept of freedom and proceeds to deftly show how the saint’s view of this essential quality of human nature can fruitfully engage our culture fashioned by the ideas of freedom of such influential thinkers as John Stuart Mill, Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre. These thinkers, especially the latter, viewed human freedom essentially as an absolute value that stresses man’s autonomy, self-determination and individuality to the detriment of the common good and an authentic human flourishing. He viewed religion as incompatible with and diametrically opposed to human freedom. Fr. Eunan convincingly demonstrates how the saint’s ideas of freedom differ fundamentally from these pernicious and persistent influences.”
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