This week we celebrate the feast of our Patron, St. Francis De Sales. He is probably one of the more famous saints and is the founder of the Salesian Order. His charism (set of beliefs of how we should live) is beautiful. I don't know how much we all know about Francis De Sales so indulge me as I lend this weeks reflection to find a better understanding of who our Parish community is named for. Some may call it a coincidence, but I feel our Patron working in our hearts, in our community, helping to create the parish we all love.
Enjoy this reflection on St. Francis De Sales and his charism. Thank you to DeSales University and The Oblates of St. Francis De Sales for providing this beautiful message.
The wisdom of St. Francis de Sales has been given to us in the charism we live. It is a wisdom guided always and everywhere by love, imbued with an imperturbable optimism, lived with characteristic humility and gentleness, expressed in words of inspired common sense, and proffered for all in a universal call to holiness.
The motto "Live Jesus!" captures the approach to life Francis De Sales lived, wherein our aim should be to live every moment of our lives with the same humility, gentleness, and charity as Jesus did. In this way, others will see the Savior walking on earth once again! As a young student, Francis de Sales would write the initials “LJ” at the top of his notebook pages as a reminder that this is how he should live. Later, he concludes his masterful Treatise on the Love of God with these words: "But that we may live in your eternal love, O Savior of our souls, we eternally sing, 'Live, Jesus! Jesus, I love! Live, Jesus whom I love! Jesus, I love, Jesus who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen."
The legacy of St. Francis De Sales offers a vision of the world founded on a deep appreciation of the love that God has showered upon us through the gifts of creation and human life, particularly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. St. Francis de Sales believed that beauty and goodness are the hallmarks of our world, as gifts born from God's deep and abiding love for each one of us. Enabled and ennobled by this love, human beings are capable of much more than might well be imagined. They are capable of living a true life of devotion in the midst of worldly pursuits. They are capable of giving birth, through faith, to a new culture of life and of love.
St. Francis De Sales leaves us with this charism. Let these words form your prayer.
- All people are called to holiness, not just a select few. It is a “heresy” to banish the devout life from any career or lifestyle.
- Since all people are called to holiness, then the means to achieve that holiness must be readily available. One lives the “devout life” by passionately and joyfully meeting the demands of one’s state in life for the love of God. It is not what you do in your life but how and for whom you do it. We are called to do the ordinary “passionately well.”
- The devout life is relational. It is in the living out of our relationships in love that one lives the devout life.
- All in life is to be done through LOVE and nothing through force. Love in this case is an act of the will, not a sentiment of the heart. It is seeing good in another and choosing and acting to make that goodness grow. We should accentuate the positive rather than condemn the negative. We should assume a positive stance towards everyone. “The measure of our love is to love without measure.”
- HUMILITY – living in self-truthfulness about who we are, both positive and negative, and about who God is towards us – is an essential virtue. “Come and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart.” Our charism is unpretentious, natural and approachable.
- Humility leads us to GENTLENESS towards our neighbor. Because one is so aware of his or her own needs and weakness, one extends to another person similar understanding and compassion. Gentleness is not weaknesses, but rather controlled, directed and loving strength. It might also be described as knowing how to react to life appropriately and proportionately. To quote de Sales: “There is no nothing so strong as gentleness and nothing so gentle as real strength.”
- CIVILITY and RESPECT must mark the behavior of a truly “gentle” devout Christian.
- The PRESENT MOMENT is where a Christian lives life. The past is over. The future is yet to be. “NOW is the time of salvation.”
- Because we have a Savior, we are always OPTIMISTIC. We already know how things are going to end. Sin, death, and the things which deny life will not triumph.
- A truly devout life enhances, does not detract from, one’s life. Real devotion never inconveniences others.
- The devout life is a process. It only happens with grace, perseverance and patience over a lifetime. One is always striving to be devout.
- Our charism is primarily a matter of the conversion of the heart. It is therefore something interior. We are called to be patient with everyone, especially ourselves.
- We are called to a “liberty of spirit” – something which includes obedience but excludes “constraint, scruples and anxiety.”
- Our charism flows from the premise that, made in the Divine Image, everyone is called to holiness and that God, who cannot be outdone in generosity, wills that all be saved.
“Let us be what we are and be that well, in order to bring honor to the Master Craftsman whose handiwork we are.” – St. Francis de Sales
Music for Jan. 28-29