Sunday, January 24, 2016
ST FRANCIS DE SALES - FEASTDAY 24TH JANUARY
Francis was born at the de Sales castle in Savoy, France, on August 21, 1567. By the age of twenty-four, Francis was a Doctor of Law. He returned to Savoy and led a hard-working life. He did not seem interested in important positions or a social life. In his heart, Francis was listening to a call that kept coming back like an echo. It seemed to be an invitation from the Lord to become a priest. Francis finally tried to explain his struggle to his family. His father was very disappointed. He wanted Francis to be a great man of the world. Family influence could have accomplished that goal. Instead, Francis became a priest on December 18, 1593.
Father de Sales lived in times when Christians were bitterly divided. He volunteered to go to a dangerous area of France to win back Catholics who had become Protestants. His father protested. He was not going to let him be a martyr. But Francis believed that the Lord would protect him. He and his cousin, Father Louis de Sales, set out on foot. The two priests soon learned how to live with insults and physical discomforts. Their lives were frequently in danger. Little by little, however, people returned to the Church.
At 35 he became Bishop of Geneva. While administering his diocese he continued to preach, hear confessions and catechize the children. His gentle character was a great asset in winning souls. He practiced his own axiom, “A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.”
Besides his two well-known books, the Introduction to the Devout Life and A Treatise on the Love of God, he wrote many booklets and carried on a vast correspondence. For his writings, he has been named patron of the Catholic Press. His writings, filled with his characteristic gentle spirit, are addressed to lay people. He wants to make them understand that they too are called to be saints. In spite of his busy and comparatively short life, he collaborated St Jane Frances de Chantal (August 12), in establishing the Sisters of the Visitation. These women were to practice the virtues exemplified in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth: humility, piety and mutual charity. They at first engaged to a limited degree in works of mercy for the poor and the sick. Today, while some communities conduct schools, others live a strictly contemplative life.