Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saint Francis de Sales

Stained glass window at Baker City Cathedral, 1923
Born in 1567, the eldest in a large family, Francis was ear-marked by his father to become a lawyer. He was more interested though in Canon Law and with the support of his mother and his prestigious appointment as provost of the Cathedral Chapter, his father eventually gave his consent to Francis’ desire for service in the church. He studied in Paris, France and Padua, Italy and was ordained a priest in 1593.
As a priest he set out to offer clear and solid teaching, even slipping articles on Catholic doctrine under the doors of people’s homes, for which he was later named Patron of Journalists. He also was very instrumental in implementing the decrees of the Council of Trent which was completed 30 years earlier.
In 1602, he was made Bishop of Geneva, and here he strove to educate the clergy as well as support and enrich religious life. He preached zealously, always focusing on the Scripture, while trying to reform lax abbeys and monasteries. He gave spiritual direction to many, as well as through his letters. He gave special attention to women, to the poor and to the disadvantaged. His famous book The Introduction to the Spiritual Life was a result of his letters written as spiritual direction. The Treatise on the Love of God came about in response to the Visitation Sisters, whom he helped found with the help of St Jane Frances de Chantal, with whom he became a spiritual pen-friend, their letters also published in a book. He died in 1622 and was canonized 33 years later in 1655.

A famous quote from St Francis de Sales: “The everlasting God has, in His wisdom, foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His loving mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with His loving arms, and weighed with His own hands, to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of all-merciful love of God.”

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