Francois Fenelon (1651 – 1715) was a French Roman Catholic archbishop, theologian, poet and writer. Today he is remembered mostly as the author of The Adventures of Telemachus, first published in 1699. Fenelon’s early education was provided in the Chateau de Fenelon by private tutors, who gave him a thorough grounding in the language and literature of the Greek and Latin classics. At age 12 he was sent to the University of Cahors, where he studied rhetoric and philosophy. Following further education in theology, he was ordained as a priest when he was 24 years old.
Quotes by Francois Fenelon…
Consider what your bondage is in the world. What do you not have to suffer to keep the esteem of those men whom you scorn?
We think this state (of uncertainty) is terrible. We are wrong. It is there that we find peace and liberty.
The greatest of all crosses is self. If we die in part every day, we shall have but little to do on the last. These little daily deaths will destroy the power of the final dying.
Many think that dying to themselves is what causes them so much pain. But it is actually the part of them that still lives that causes the problem. Death is only painful to you when you resist it. Your imagination exaggerates how bad death will be. Self-love fights with all of its strength to live. Die inwardly as well as outwardly. Let all that is not born of God within you die.
God will not only show you how physically weak you are, but how spiritually weak you are without Him. How strong you will be when you see that you are completely weak. Then you will always be able to believe that you are mistaken. Open yourself to the insight of others. Do not be dogmatic. Speak the truth simply. Allow others to evaluate you, but judge no one. Offer advice only to those who ask for it. Mention the faults of others without being heavy-handed or legalistic. And do not speak to gain a good reputation for yourself.
But when people are told to seek God within, it is like telling them to go to another planet. What is farther away and more unknown than the bottom of your own heart?
The crosses which we make for ourselves by over-anxiety as to the future are not Heaven-sent crosses. We tempt God by our false wisdom, seeking to forestall His arrangements, and struggling to supplement His Providence by our own provisions. The crosses actually laid upon us always bring their own special grace and consequent comfort with them; we see the Hand of God when it is laid upon us. But the crosses wrought by anxious foreboding are altogether beyond God’s dispensations.
God never ceases to speak to us, but the noise of the world without, and the tumult of our passions within, bewilder us, and prevent us from listening. All must be silent around us, and all must be still within us, when we would listen with our whole souls to this voice. It is a still, small voice, and is only heard by those who listen to no other. Alas! How seldom is it that the soul is so still that it can hear when God speaks to it!
As the light increases, we see ourselves to be worse than we thought. We are amazed at our former blindness as we see issuing forth from the depths of our heart a whole swarm of shameful feelings, like filthy reptiles crawling from a hidden cave. We never could have believed that we had harbored such things, and we stand aghast as we watch them gradually appear. But while our faults diminish, the light by which we see them waxes brighter, and we are filled with horror. Bear in mind, for your comfort, that we only perceive our malady when the cure begins.