Vatican - Apostolic Letter "Totum amoris est," written on the occasion of the fourth centenary of the death of St. Francis de Sales, published

(ANS – Vatican City) – “Guide of souls, capable of reading the signs of his time.” This is how Pope Francis refers to St. Francis de Sales in his Apostolic Letter “Totum amoris est,” Everything Pertains to Love, published yesterday, Dec. 28, exactly four hundred years after the death of the saintly bishop from Geneva, Doctor of the Church, patron of journalists and communicators.

Of St. Francis de Sales, who was born in the castle of Sales, Savoy, on Aug. 21, 1567, and died in Lyon on Dec. 28, 1622, the Pope emphasizes the vocation to ask himself “in every circumstance of life where is the greatest love to be found?” Not by chance, St. John Paul II called him the “Doctor of Divine Love,” Pope Francis recalls, not only for having written “a weighty Treatise on that subject, but first and foremost because he was an outstanding witness to that love.”

In the Letter, the Pontiff writes that he wondered about the legacy of St. Francis de Sales for our time and found enlightening “his flexibility and his far-sighted vision.” “Partly by God’s gift and partly thanks to his own character, but also by his steady cultivation of lived experience, Francis perceived clearly that the times were changing. On his own, he might never have imagined that those changes represented so great an opportunity for the preaching of the Gospel,” he continues.

“The Word he had loved from his youth was capable of making its way, opening up new and unpredictable horizons, in a world in rapid transition.” This, for the Pope, is what awaits us as an essential task: “to be a Church that is outward-looking and free from all worldliness, even as we live in this world, share people’s lives and journey with them in attentive of listening and acceptance,” having special concern not so much “for ourselves, for our structures, and for what society thinks about us” but rather in considering “what the real spiritual needs and expectations of our people are.”

But it is only in the heart and through the heart, Pope Francis continues, that man recognizes God and, at the same time, himself, his own origin and depth, his own fulfillment, in the call to love, because faith is not a passive surrender to a doctrine without flesh and without history” but an attitude of the heart.

Finally, in the second part of the Apostolic Letter, the Pontiff looks at the legacy of St. Francis de Sales for our age through “some of his crucial choices, in order to inhabit change with evangelical wisdom.”

Fr. Michele Molinar, Provincial Vicar of the Salesians of Piedmont and the Aosta Valley (ICP), also spoke on the Apostolic Letter “Totum amoris est” yesterday as part of the “Sacre Questioni” program, interviewed by Filippo Peschiera.

“Charity, as St. Francis de Sales understands it, is love with the traits of God,” says Fr. Molinar in the interview, available here, “And then to God, we answer with devotion, which […] as St. Francis de Sales understands it is the ‘tip’ of charity.”

The full text of the Letter is available at

Source: Vatican News

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