MYSTICAL FLORA, by St Francis de Sales
Translated by Clara Mulholland
(Gracewing, 2003, 144pp, $19.95. Available from AD Books)
At a time when we ordinary Catholics are being assailed by thoughts on the Church by learned theologians who speak in a language which can only confuse, it is good to read a book written in language which is easily understood.
This book, in particular, using various flora as an analogy to the ways we commit sin, can be used by people of all ages to strengthen their Faith.
One point that strikes me as particularly apt is the saying which was used by both St Augustine and St Anselem that "we do not try to understand in order to have Faith, but we have Faith in order to understand."
The present book is a translation of a number of letters, sermons and other writings by St Francis de Sales which, although written during the 16th and 17th centuries, are still pertinent today, particularly when dealing with our virtues. For example, in an article on "Devout Life", the Saint wrote:
"As the leaves of trees, which in themselves are not of much worth, are, nevertheless very useful, not only for adorning the trees, but also for preserving the fruit while it is yet tender; so good repute, which is a very desirable thing in itself, is very useful, not only for the adornment of our life, but also for the preservation of our virtues while tender and feeble. The obligation of keeping up our character, and of being what people think is to be, urges on the courage of a generous heart with a strong and gentle violence."
Mystical Flora is full of advice which can only lead to a Faith which understands. It would be a wonderful addition to both family home and Catholic schools.