Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feast of St. Francis de Sales

Today is the Feast day of St. Francis de Sales. There are two items that I wish to mention regarding him. He compiled sermons, teachings, and letters he had written into what is a masterpiece on spiritual direction and guidance called "Introduction to the Devout Life". If you have never read this book, go on Amazon dot com and order it today. This man was brilliant and truly knew the nuts and bolts of living as a Christian should. The second item I will take directly from Catholic Online regarding his attempt to convert Catholics who had fallen over to Calvinism. This account is astounding: Then Francis had a bad idea - at least that's what everyone else thought. This was during the time of the Protestant reformation and just over the mountains from where Francis lived was Switzerland- Calvinist territory. Francis decided that he should lead an expedition to convert the 60,000 Calvinists back to Catholicism. But by the time he left his expedition consisted of himself and his cousin. His father refused to give him any aid for this crazy plan and the diocese was too poor to support him.

For three years, he trudged through the countryside, had doors slammed in his face and rocks thrown at him. In the bitter winters, his feet froze so badly they bled as he tramped through the snow. He slept in haylofts if he could, but once he slept in a tree to avoid wolves. He tied himself to a branch to keep from falling out and was so frozen the next morning he had to be cut down. And after three years, his cousin had left him alone and he had not made one convert.

Francis' unusual patience kept him working. No one would listen to him, no one would even open their door. So Francis found a way to get under the door. He wrote out his sermons, copied them by hand, and slipped them under the doors. This is the first record we have of religious tracts being used to communicate with people.

The parents wouldn't come to him out of fear. So Francis went to the children. When the parents saw how kind he was as he played with the children, they began to talk to him.

By the time, Francis left to go home he is said to have converted 40,000 people back to Catholicism.

St. John Bosco (Don Bosco) so loved and admired St. Francis de Sales that he founded the Salesian Society dedicated to "the Christian perfection of its associates obtained by the exercise of spiritual and corporal works of charity towards the young, especially the poor, and the education of boys to the priesthood." here is the Prayer of St. Francis de Sales:

Be at Peace

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;

rather look to them with full hope as they arise.

God, whose very own you are,

will deliver you from out of them.

He has kept you hitherto,

and He will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it,

God will bury you in his arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same everlasting Father who cares for you today

will take care of you then and everyday.

He will either shield you from suffering,

or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace,

and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.

St. Francis de Sales 1567-1622

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