SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES
Feast Day: January 24th
Bishop of Geneva, Switzerland and a Doctor of the Church
FRANCIS was born of noble and pious parents, near Annecy, A.D. 1567, and studied with brilliant success at Paris and Padua. On his return from Italy he gave up the grand Career which his father had marked out for him in the service of the State, and became a priest. He studied at Annecy, Paris, France and Padua, Italy. He received a doctorate in law at the age of twenty-four. He was ordained a priest in 1593. When the Duke of Savoy had resolved to restore the Church in the Chablais, Francis offered himself for the work, and set out on foot with his Bible and breviary and one companion, his cousin Louis of Sales. It was a work of toil, privation, and danger. Every door and every heart were closed against him. He was rejected with insult and threatened with death. But nothing could daunt or resist him, and ere long the Church burst forth into a second spring. It is stated that he converted 72,000 Calvinists. He was then compelled by the Pope to become Coadjutor Bishop of Geneva, and succeeded the see A.D. 1602. At times the exceeding gentleness with which he received heretics and sinners almost scandalized his ends, and one of them said to him, " Francis of Sales will go to Paradise, of course; but I am not so sure of the Bishop of Geneva: I am almost afraid his gentleness will play him a shrewd turn." "Ah," said the saint, " I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity. Is not God all love? God the Father is the Father of mercy; God the Son is a Lamb; God the Holy Ghost is a Dove, that is, gentleness itself. And are you wiser than God ?" He became an outstanding confessor and spiritual director and spiritually guided Blessed Marie Acarie and St. Jane Francis de Chantal. He founded several schools. He was gifted in spiritual writing and wrote the spiritual classics: Introduction to the Devout Life and the Treatise on the Love of God. In union with St: Jane Frances of Chantal he founded at Annecy the Order of the Visitation, which soon spread over Europe. Though poor, he refused provisions and dignities, and even the great see of Paris. He died at Avignon, A.D. 1622. He was canonized in 1653 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1877.
REFLECTION.-"You will catch more flies," St. Francis used to say, " with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar. Were there any thing better or fairer on earth than gentleness, Jesus Christ would have taught it us ; and yet he has given us only two lessons to learn of him—meekness and humility of heart."
Excerpt from Saint Francis de Sales' book, Introduction to the Devout Life:
On the Choice upon to you between Heaven and Hell.
1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God. 2. Humble yourself before Him, and ask His inspiration.
1. Imagine yourself alone with your good angel (46) in an open plain, as was Tobit on his way to Rages. Suppose the Angel to set before you Paradise, full of delights and joys; and on the other hand Hell, with all its torments. Contemplate both, kneeling in imagination before your guardian Angel. Consider that you are most truly standing between Hell and Paradise, and that both the one and the other are open to receive you, according to your own choice.
2. Consider that the choice you make in this life will last for ever in the next.
3. Consider too, that while both are open to receive you according to your choice, yet God, Who is prepared to give the one by reason of His Justice, the other by reason of His Mercy, all the while desires unspeakably that you should select Paradise; and your good Angel is urging you with all his might to do so, offering you countless graces on God's part, countless helps to attain to it.
4. Consider that Jesus Christ, enthroned in Heaven, looks down upon you in loving invitation: "O beloved one, come unto Me, and joy for ever in the eternal blessedness of My Love!" Behold His mother yearning over you with maternal tenderness--" Courage, my child, do not despise the Goodness of my Son, or my earnest prayers for thy salvation." Behold the Saints, who have left you their example, the (47) millions of holy souls who long after you, desiring earnestly that you may one day be for ever joined to them in their song of praise, urging upon you that the road to Heaven is not so hard to find as the world would have you think. "Press on boldly, dear friend,"--they cry. "Whoso will ponder well the path by which we came hither, will discover that we attained to these present delights by sweeter joys than any this world can give."
1. O Hell, I abhor thee now and for ever; I abhor thy griefs and torments, thine endless misery, the unceasing blasphemies and maledictions which thou pourest out upon my God;--and turning to thee, O blessed Paradise, eternal glory, unfading happiness, I choose thee for ever as my abode, thy glorious mansions, thy precious and abiding tabernacles. O my God, I bless Thy Mercy which gives me the power to choose--O Jesus, Saviour, I accept Thine Eternal Love, and praise Thee for the promise Thou hast given me of a place prepared for me in that blessed New Jerusalem, where I shall love and bless Thee for ever.
2. Dwell lovingly upon the example set before you by the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, and strive to follow where they point you. Give (48) yourself up to your guardian Angel, that he may be your guide, and gird up your courage anew to make this choice.
To see the entire book, go to this link: Introduction to the Devout Life
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