The Concept of Freedom in the Writings of St Francis de Sales

by Eunan Mc Donnell SDB (Author)
©2009 Monographs XVI, 468 Pages


Through the examination of the concept of freedom in the writings of St Francis de Sales the author concludes that, in contradistinction to a contemporary understanding of freedom perceived as self-determination, a Salesian understanding privileges freedom’s relationship to ‘the good’. This situates St Francis de Sales in the classical Thomistic tradition of freedom’s necessary relationship to the good, but involves a methodological shift as he employs the Renaissance starting point of ‘the turn to the subject’. This study demonstrates how St Francis arrives inductively at what St Thomas demonstrated deductively, namely, the essential relationship of freedom to the good. Along with this Thomistic influence, the author analyses the Salesian indebtedness to Augustinian anthropology which explains the primacy St Francis gives to the will, and consequently, to love. Love, understood as the heart’s movement towards the good, allows the Salesian approach to move beyond the confines of a traditional faculty psychology to embrace a more biblical understanding of the human person. This examination of love’s relationship to freedom reveals their teleological and archaeological natures, coming back to our origins wherein we discover the source of our freedom bestowed on us as a gift from God.


XVI, 468
ISBN (Softcover)
Humanism Predestination Disordered Desires Grace and Freedom
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2009. XVI, 468 pp.

Biographical notes

Eunan Mc Donnell SDB (Author)

The Author: Fr. Eunan Mc Donnell is a member of the Salesians of don Bosco, having completed his Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Salesian University, Rome, in 1994. Since then he has been involved in lecturing in theology at Maynooth Pontifical University (Ireland); has been head of department of spirituality at All Hallows College, Dublin, where he lectured in theology and spirituality; and more recently lectured in theology at the Diocesan Major Seminary, Adigrat (Ethiopia). He has published a book on the spirituality of St Francis de Sales: God Desires You (2001).


Title: The Concept of Freedom in the Writings of St Francis de Sales