Book offers meditations based on Francis de Sales' letters

St. Francis de Sales.

When Dr. Christopher Blum first read "Introduction to the Devout Life," he knew that he would be personally indebted to St. Francis de Sales.

Inspired to read various other letters written by the saint, Blum decided to compile a book of meditations that would give readers advice for renewing their spiritual journey.

Printed by Sophia Institute Press, “Rose Among Thorns” is the first English publication in this form of St. Francis de Sales’ letters. The book, according to Blum, will help any reader who is “trying to be the rose among the thorns.”

“This book seeks to encourage Christians, particularly suited for people in the middle decades of their life, who are really in the thorns of life and struggling with the fact that they have been trying to live a good, Christian life for 30 years and don’t feel like they are saints yet. This book is speaking to that person. And since I myself am that person, I found it very helpful,” he told CNA.

A philosophy and Catholic culture professor at the Denver, Colo.-based Augustine Institute, Blum read thousands of St. Francis’ letters. He translated the letters from French and edited them for the meditations in the book.

“It was not as daunting procedure as you might think,” he commented, explaining that he filtered through and picked “only the passages that seemed most likely to be appreciated today.”

Blum wanted the letters of St. Francis de Sales to be read as if the saint was personally speaking to the reader.

“What I did in translating was to remove all the particularities from the letters, anything that would identify it as dealing with this or that person or private concerns, so now they really read like meditations,” he said.

The title “Rose Among Thorns” was a prominent illustration St. Francis himself used. “I think it is a nice image of spirituality, which he is famous for having pioneered,” Blum reflected, “that a life in the world for a Christian is life among thorns.”

The primary spiritual focus of the book is centered on meekness, which Blum explained is “a characteristic that is maybe a little hard for us to understand. We think that to be meek is to be personally unimpressive, or the wallflower at the dance.”

However, St. Francis describes meekness as a fundamental example of charity.

“St. Francis’ advice to cultivate meekness is really a concrete way of making us better prepared to express the joy of the Gospel that Pope Francis is calling us to,” Blum emphasized.


Voices

Easter and beyond

Anne Hansen

We move quickly from our major religious holidays each year. It’s not intentional. Life hurries along and as soon as the sun sets on one holiday the next is being touted by merchants looking to sell us whatever the next big day brings. To remain in the spirit of the religious holiday — in this case Easter — takes deliberate intention.

Opportunities with Sisters of St. Joseph

Events

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April 25, 2015

  • Saturday, April 25

    Super Groovy 5K Run/Walk, 8 a.m., Woodley Park, 6350 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys. Sponsored by St. Euphrasia School, this year’s “Super Groovy” theme celebrates the school’s 50th anniversary of its founding in 1964 and serves as a tribute to that nostalgic era of peace and love — the 60’s. At the finish line, all runners and walkers will be puffed with clouds of psychodelic color. Registration $25-$40. For more information, contact Susie Sempelsz, (818) 488-1598. info@knights5k.org.

    5th Annual Car Show, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Junipero Serra High School, 14830 S Van Ness Ave., Gardena. Featuring classics, hot rods, and muscle cars as well as food, music, vendors and raffles. (310) 324-6675. la-serrahs.org.

    Challenge Weekend for Men, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and April 26, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Povorello Retreat House, 1519 Woodworth St., San Fernando. Presented by St. John Eudes and Our Lady of Grace Men’s Fellowships. Men will not board overnight; lunch is provided both days. $90 or donation. Register at knowingweekend.eventbrite.com. For more information, contact Fred Perez, (818) 749-5126.

    First Annual Sacred Heart High School Gala, 5 p.m., Los Angeles City College New Student Activities Center, 855 N Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. Proceeds from the event, themed “United to Empower,” will benefit the Comet Scholarship Fund.



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