Tuesday, January 24, 2012

St. Francis De Sales

A colored-pencil drawing of St Francis De Sales by a Maltese artist, F Schembri.
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. He tried very hard to reform the people’s way of life, and conquered Geneva’s Calvinist trend with the weapons of fasting, charity and good behavior.

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.

Francis De Sales was revered by his daughters (The Visitation Sisters,) honored by Kings and loved by children. His friend St Vincent de Paul described Francis as “The man who best reproduced the Son of God living on earth.” He died in 1622 and was canonized 33 years later in 1655.
Stained glass window in St Francis De Sales Cathedral, Baker City, OREGON, crafted in 1923.
Some quotes from St Francis De Sales:

- Salvation is shown to faith, it is prepared for hope, but it is given only to charity.
- We must fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear.
- Some torment themselves in seeking means to discover the art of loving God, and do not know that there is no art or means of loving Him but to love those who love Him.
- An action of small value performed with much love of God is far more excellent than one of a higher virtue, done with less love of God.
- Our greatest fault is that we wish to serve God in our way, not in His way- according to our will, not according to His will. When He wishes us to be sick, we wish to be well; when He desires us to serve Him by sufferings, we desire to serve Him by works; when He wishes us to exercise charity, we wish to exercise humility; when He seeks from us resignation, we wish for devotion, a spirit of prayer or some other virtue.
- The greatest fault among those who have a good will is that they wish to be something they cannot be, and do not wish to be what they necessarily must be.
- The highest degree of meekness consists in seeing, serving, honoring, and treating amiably, on occasion, those who are not to our taste, and who show themselves unfriendly, ungrateful, and troublesome to us.

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