St. Francis de Sales: Prayer, Peace, and the Imagination

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By St. Francis de Sales, Catholic Exchange, Dec. 6, 2022

Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from St. Francis de Sales’ Roses Among Thorns, available from Sophia Institute Press.

St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622), bishop, Doctor of the Church, and patron of writers, was ordained a priest in 1593. He was elected bishop of Geneva in 1602. With Jane Frances Frémyot, Baroness de Chantal, St. Francis founded the Visitation of Holy Mary in Annecy in Savoy. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Lyons, France, on December 28, 1622. St. Francis de Sales was canonized in 1665.

It is not possible to pray without employing the imagination and the understanding.
 Yet it cannot be doubted that we should make use of them only for the sake of moving the will, and then no more. Some say that it is not necessary to use the imagination to represent to ourselves the sacred humanity of the Savior. Not, perhaps, for those who are already far advanced on the mountain of perfection. But for those of us who are still in the valleys — though we wish to be climbing — I think it is expedient to make use of all our faculties, including the imagination.

This imagination, however, ought to be quite simple, serving as a sort of needle with which to thread affections and resolutions into our mind. This is the great road, from which we should not take leave until the light of day is a little brighter and we can see the little paths. It is true that these imaginings should not be tangled up in too many particularities, but should be simple. Let us remain a while longer in the low valleys. …

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