Stages of One True Devotion

Genuine living devotion internalizes the true love of God…

Francis de Sales (1567-1622), a priest and bishop of Geneva versed in the classics, Hebrew, Greek and a life of discipline learned from the Jesuits wrote about the virtue of devotion, describes there being “only one true devotion” in contrast to those that are “false and empty”…

“Inasmuch as divine love adorns the soul, it is called grace which makes us pleasing to his Divine Majesty.  Inasmuch as it strengthens us to do good, it is called charity.  When it has reached a degree of perfection at which it makes us not only do good, but also do this carefully, frequently, and promptly, it is called devotion.” 

Amazing Grace David Arms

Grace becomes a beginning awareness, the fortitude to do good works is love – charity, and the awareness of being sensitive and obedient to the nudge of love becomes devotion.

Francis compares these stages of devotional formation to the ability to fly, to soar using different types of birds; ostriches, hens, and eagles, doves, and swallows.

“Ostriches never fly; hens fly in a clumsy fashion, near the ground and only once in awhile, but eagles, doves, and swallows fly aloft, swiftly and frequently.”

True devotion is a sensitivity to the nudging of the Holy Spirit.  It is devotion of a soul whom has felt the embrace of the Divine Love that is able to soar in the authentic, able to grace over the lower affections that shine of faux veneer into another layer, a deeper soul saturating experience that leads to the dance with the Divine for transformation, an intimacy with God the Father.  It is there that giving thanksgiving for all of life, even when it makes no connection in the frailty of the human logical mind stirs the heart beyond thought, to a knowing the eyes cannot yet perceive.

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:20

It is in this soaring of the eagles, doves, and swallows, finding God in all of life that are likened to the “bees amid the banks of thyme.  They find there a very bitter juice, but when they suck it out, they change into honey because they have the ability to do so.”

Soaring allows one to rise to the sacred space of sitting in the Presence of the One who is I AM in sweet communion and also gives the stamina to reach out and be love to the least of these.  Rest becomes a sweet rest knowing all is well in the interior life and looking into the eyes of the One who is Peace.


It is love that fulfills the law, gives flight to soar to the highest heights, and reach out to others.

Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. – Romans 13:10

When our affections are His, we are then truly free to love, to soar.

When we allow His embrace of our soul, we are then able to lay down the mirage that tightened our grip and kept a liminal resistance and embrace true devotion.

When our souls have responded to his invitation to receive His love, we have the key to unlock the doors and change the world by living being found in Him and being love to the least of these…

… I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. – Jeremiah 31:3


For reflection:  Where is the devotion of your affections? Do you resonate with one particular bird in this season?

Photos:  Pinterest, David Arms, Artist

Quotes from Frances de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

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