Monday, January 14, 2008

The Inner Life : Fenelon

Linked by Fénelon at the end of the 17th century, the notions of liberty, equality and fraternity became more widespread during the Age of Enlightenment.

Francois Fenelon (1651-1715)
The Inner Life

This English translation originally appeared in "Spiritual Progress

or Instructions in the Divine Life of the Soul
from the French of Fenelon and Madame Guyon";
Printed in 1853; Edited by James W. Metcalf.

He is, in all things, infinite—in wisdom power and love,—and what wonder, if everything that comes from his hand should partake of the same infinite character and set at nought the efforts of human reason. When He works, his ways and his thoughts are declared by the prophet to be as far above our ways and our thoughts as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah lv. 9).

Fénelon, François de Salignac de la Mothe. 1651 - 1715.

French archbishop, theologian, and man of letters whose liberal views on politics and education and whose involvement in a controversy over the nature of mystical prayer caused concerted opposition from church and state. His pedagogical concepts and literary works, nevertheless, exerted a lasting influence on French culture.

Descended from a long line of nobility, Fenelon began his higher studies in Paris about 1672 at Saint-Sulpice seminary. Ordained a priest in 1676, he was appointed director of Nouvelles Catholiques ("New Catholics"), a college for women who instructed converts from French Protestantism. When King Louis XIV heightened the persecution of the Huguenots (French Calvinists) in 1685 by revoking the Edict of Nantes, Fenelon strove to mitigate the harshness of Roman Catholic intolerance by open meetings with the Protestants (1686-87) to present Catholic doctrine in a reasonable light. While unsympathetic to Protestant belief, he equally repudiated forced conversions.

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