Lenten Lectures on
In March and April of 2014, Chris James presented a series of lectures at our Wednesday Agape gathering evenings on the writings and life of François Fénelon.
Fénelon (1651-1715) was a French Roman Catholic archbishop who had a profound influence on the royal court of his time and French families and their children for centuries. His literary output is quite varied. He wrote articles on political thought that were admired by later thinkers such as Rousseau; his essay on educating girls was centuries ahead of its time; and his fables and fictional works were once said to be the most read in France other than La Fontaine and the Bible for close to two hundred years.
Among his theological writings are a defense of the existence of God, as well as treatises against empiricism and what he saw to be errant strains within the Church. However, he is more well-known as a spiritual director to many, and as a tirelessly gentle teacher and guide to the heir to Louis XIV’s throne in the early 1700s. His sermons and letters were gathered and published as quickly as possible upon his death, and the wisdom of the counsel and insight therein speaks to readers across centuries.
The tumultuous events of his life and ministry are tied up with how we read his work, and the four sessions on Fénelon examine his writings, biography, influences, and predecessors — such as François de Sales and Teresa d’Avila.
You can stream the audio for each the four lectures on the players below. If you prefer to download them in mp3 format, just right-click (or, Mac users, control-click) on the lecture title.
March 19 — The Interior Life & the Idea of Pure Love
March 26 — Disinterestedness & Simplicity
April 9 — Fénelon’s “On Holy Thursday”
FOR FURTHER READING
The Complete Fénelon. Edited by Robert Edmonson. (Paraclete Giants, 2008).
Includes The Royal Way of the Cross, Talking With God, Meditations on the Heart of God, God of My Heart: Meditations on Feasts and Fasts.
Let Go (Scroll Publishing Co., 2008).
Includes a collection of spiritual letters.
Fenelon: Selected Writings. Edited by Chad Helms. (Classics of Western Spirituality, 2006).
Includes excerpts from Fénelon’s most important writings, as well as the entire Explications des maximes des saints; also includes a fine biographical sketch of Fénelon.
Fénelon: Telemachus. Translated by Patrick Riley. (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, 1994).
A newer translation than what can be found for free online, very readable and including a fine introduction.