Love of God


If we have not the holy love of God, all this would profit nothing for eternal life



This week we are moving into the section from Saint Francis’ Treatise on the Love of God. Be sure to watch the video “Penitence and Charity” to help deepen your reflection and give you a new way to embrace his timeless wisdom. (If you’d prefer to read St. Francis’ original text, this week’s video covers Chapters 18–22 of Book II, starting with “That Love Is Exercised In Penitence, And First, That There Are Diverse Sorts Of Penitence.”)
Prayers of perfect penitence have great value


Perfect Christian Penitence


To speak generally, penitence is a repentance whereby a man rejects and detests the sin he has committed, with the resolution to repair as much as in him lies the offence and injury done to him against whom he has sinned.

I comprehend in penitence a purpose to repair the offence, because that repentance does not sufficiently detest the fault which voluntarily permits the principal effect thereof, to wit the offence and injury, to subsist; and it permits it to subsist, so long as, being able in some sort to make reparation, it does not do so…

… We may therefore well say that penitence is a virtue wholly Christian, since on the one side it was so little known to the pagans, and, on the other side, it is so well recognized amongst true Christians, that in it consists a great part of the evangelical philosophy, according to which whosoever affirms that he sins not, is senseless, and whosoever expects without penitence to redress his sin is mad; for it is our Saviour’s exhortation of exhortations: Do penance (Matt 4:17)…

… The repentance which excludes the love of God is infernal like to that of the damned. The repentance which does not reject the love of God, though as yet it be without it, is a good and desirable penitence, but imperfect, and it cannot give salvation until it attain love and is mingled therewith. So that as the great Apostle said that though he should deliver his body to be burned, and all his goods to the poor, wanting charity it would profit him nothing (1 Cor 13:3), so we may truly say, that though our penitence were so great that it should cause our eyes to dissolve in tears, and our hearts to break with sorrow, yet if we have not the holy love of God, all this would profit nothing for eternal life.


Questions to ponder

  1. Repentance that does not reject love of God, although it may lack it, is good, but imperfect. But if it did not progress to a holy love of God in some degree, it would profit us nothing for everlasting life. When does repentance become penitence? What types of repentance have no supernatural value?
  2. What is the difference between imperfect and perfect penitence?
  3. To what must imperfect penitence lead if it is to avail us to eternal life?



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