Fenelon, the man, the myth, the legend…He was a brilliant writer, philosopher and bishop.
Similar to Pascal, Fenelon is classically trained, and writes, refers to both the same writers and similar theological issues. This last segment is also the dividing line between the two. Fenelon as a bishop, he will pursue God and express his experiences and ideas on a more relational and experiential platform God
Fenelon writes: Do we enjoy the contemplation of God? Do we feel a sincere joy when we pray to him, and when we meditate upon his presence? “Prayer,” says Augustine “is the measure of love. He, who loves much, prays much. He, whose heart is closely united to God, has no sweeter consolation than in communion with Him.
Regarding the infamous issue of passivity or quietism Fenelon writes: “It is He, Who has created all that is. I am free, and I cannot doubt it; I have an intimate and immoveable conviction that I am free to will, or not to will. There is within me a power of election, not only to will or not, but to decide between different objects. This is in itself a proof of the immateriality of my soul.”
Regarding Prayer, he writes: Let us pray then, but let us pray with all our duties before us. Do not let us make eloquent and abstract prayers that have no connection with the practice of virtue, but let us pray to become more humble, more docile, more patient, more charitable, more modest, more pure, and more disinterested in the performance of our duties. Without this, our prayer will be an illusion to ourselves, and a scandal to our neighbor: an illusion to ourselves, for how often do we see a devotion that only nourishes pride and misleads the imagination; and a scandal to our neighbor.
Fenelon is indeed one of the most unappreciated and misunderstood writers of this era. His works are heartfelt by one who similar to David, longs to be united with the one he loves; God Himself, for Himself.
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Today many individuals are not aware of the specifics regarding their personal heritage. This category of heritage includes, their national ancestry, perhaps their family tree beyond a few generations, not alone their spiritual heritage. Indeed many will be quick to tell you their fundamental denomination’s beliefs, and perhaps some of their own beliefs and certain aspects of their dogma. Yet, they will not be able to carry it beyond these same few.
The truth is, Christian Creeds persuades us of its truth, not only by reason of its history and its perfect accord with our moral and spiritual needs, but also because it is the clear goal at which our intellect strives in groping fashion to arrive. History, conscience, and intellect are three distinct sources of argument which converge towards a concordant testimony to the reality and truth of the Christian knowledge and understanding.
From history, we obtain the facts of a distinct and specific character, which more than suggests the presence of a Divine agency, and which are in separably connected with the origin of Christianity. Additionally, from man’s own inward life we get the arguments based on conscience, on the need of moral order, and the recognition of a moral law. Also, from reason, we get the attempted solutions of the questions raised concerning the origin of the universe and particularly concerning the origin and destiny of man himself.
To give anything like a full proof of the Christian doctrine formed into creeds demands a detailed exposition of the concordant testimony of these different groups of witnesses, it without a doubt would manifestly require a large volume. This simple effort is intended to provide the avid student and those who need to reexamine what it is that comprises their beliefs into a tangible and readable summation of what it is and how we today believe and profess what we do.
A man, whose whole heart is engaged in some grand concern, might pass many days in a room attending to his affairs, without seeing either the proportions of the room, the ornaments on the chimney, or the pictures that surrounded him. All these objects would be before his eyes, but he would not see them, and they would make no impression upon him. Thus this is how men live. Everything presents God to them, but they do not see Him. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him; nevertheless the world has not known Him. They pass their lives without perceiving this representation of the Deity for the fascinations of life so completely obscure their vision.
Saint Augustine says that the wonders of the universe are lowered in our estimation by their repetition. Cicero says the same thing. “Forced to witness the same things every day, the mind as well as the eye is accustomed to them. It does not admire, or take any pains to discover, the cause of events that it always observes to take place in just the same way; as if it were the novelty rather than the grandeur of a thing that should lead us to this investigation.”