Monday, January 24, 2011

Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church


"The Gentleman Saint" was known for his gentle manner and kindness. However, he wasn't always gentlemanly. He had a disposition of temper that he worked very hard to overcome. It took him years to gain self-control, and occasionally had slip-ups. Saint Francis battled anxiety and depression as a young man, almost driving him to despair and suicide. He was considering jumping into the river, when he was inspired to go visit the shrine of the Black Virgin of Paris, otherwise known as, Our Lady of Deliverance. Saint Francis was delivered from his anxiety and depression while in prayer before the statue. Francis said in his writings that the remedy to anxiety and depression, is to place all your confidence in God.

Saint Francis had a gift of spiritually counseling souls and bringing them back to the Church using Truth tempered with love. He was responsible for over 70,000 conversions, even using sign language to minister to the deaf. Saint Francis was a friend of Saint Vincent de Paul. Along with Saint Jeanne de Chantal, he helped found the Order of the Visitation and he was her spiritual director.

Saint Francis corresponded in letter to many souls, guiding them in matters of faith. In his letters are testimony to his holiness which helped the Church declare him a Doctor of the Church. His writings can be found in the following books:

Introduction to the Devout Life
Exercise of Virtues
Sermons of Saint Francis on Prayer
Treatise on the Love of God

He is the patron saint of Catholic press, confessors, deaf people, deafness, educators, journalists, teachers and writers.

We are not drawn to God by iron chains, but by sweet attractions and holy inspirations. - Saint Francis de Sales

There are many who say to the Lord, “I give myself wholly to Thee, without any reserve,” but there are few who embrace the practice of this abandonment, which consists in receiving with a certain indifference every sort of event, as it happens in conformity with Divine Providence, as well afflictions as consolations, contempt and reproaches as honor and glory. - Saint Francis de Sales

One of the principle effects of holy abandonment in God is evenness of spirits in the various accidents of this life, which is certainly a point of great perfection, and very pleasing to God. The way to maintain it is in imitation of the pilots, to look continually at the Pole Star, that is, the Divine Will, in order to be constantly in conformity with it. For it is this will which, with infinite wisdom rightly distributes prosperity and adversity, health and sickness, riches and poverty, honor and contempt, knowledge and ignorance, and all that happens in this life. On the other hand, if we regard creatures without this relation to God, we cannot prevent our feelings and disposition from changing, according to the variety of accidents which occur. - Saint Francis de Sales

All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be. - Saint Francis de Sales

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. - Saint Francis de Sales

Anxiety is a temptation in itself and also the source from and by which other temptations come. Sadness is that mental pain which is caused by the involuntary evils which affect us. These may be external - such as poverty, sickness, contempt of others - or they may be internal - such as ignorance, dryness in prayer, aversion, and temptation itself. When the soul is conscious of some evil, it is dissatisfied because of this, and sadness is produced. The soul wishes to be free from this sadness, and tries to find the means for this. If the soul seeks deliverance for the love of God, it will seek with patience, gentleness, humility, and calmness, waiting on God’s providence rather than relying on its own initiative, exertion, and diligence. If it seeks from self-love, it is eager and excited and relying on self rather than God. Anxiety comes from an irregulated desire to be delivered from the evil we experience. Therefore, above all else, calm and compose your mind. Gently and quietly pursue your aim.
- Saint Francis de Sales

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. And this is not because the things we desire may be more pleasing to Him, but because they are more to our taste. This is certainly the greatest obstacle we can raise to our own perfection, for it is beyond doubt that if we were to wish to be Saints according to our own will, we shall never be so at all. To be truly a Saint, it is necessary to be one according to the will of God. - Saint Francis de Sales

All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever had done these two things best, has made himself most saintly.
- Saint Francis de Sales

One of the things that keep us at a distance from perfection is, without a doubt, our tongue. For when one has gone so far as to commit no faults in speaking, the Holy Spirit Himself assures us that he is perfect. And since the worst way of speaking is to speak too much, speak little and well, little and gently, little and simply, little and charitably, little and amiably. - Saint Francis de Sales

It should be our principal business to conquer ourselves and, from day to day, to go on increasing in strength and perfection. Above all, however, it is necessary for us to strive to conquer our little temptations, such as fits of anger, suspicions, jealousies, envy, deceitfulness, vanity, attachments, and evil thoughts. For in this way we shall acquire strength to subdue greater ones. - Saint Francis de Sales

There is nothing which edifies others so much as charity and kindness, by which, as by the oil in our lamp, the flame of good example is kept alive.
- Saint Francis de Sales


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