Letters to Laity
St Francis de Sales was a paragon of availability and advice to lay men and women, whether single, married, widowed or discerning the religious life. Long before Vatican 11 reminded the Church that all people are called to holiness, St. Francis de Sales was working directly with laity to guide laypersons, often individually, to holiness.
He guided many married persons. What advice would one expect from a Bishop to a newly married woman? What would YOU want a Bishop to advise you?
This is what he wrote to a woman recently married:
To a Young Married Lady.
1 2th March 1613.
“May God be blessed and glorified in this change of state which you have made for his name, my dearest daughter ; and I still say dearest daughter because this change changes nothing in the truly paternal affection which I have given to you. You will find that if you have a perfect resignation of your soul to the providence and will of our Lord, you will advance in this vocation, you will have much consolation, and will become at last very holy. It was what was necessary for your soul, as you have met a gentleman so full of good dispositions.
You are wrong to have a scruple about breaking the fast, as the doctor’s advice requires it.
Be very gentle ; do not live by humours and inclinations, but by reason and devotion. Love your husband tenderly, as having been given to you by the hand of our Lord.
Be very humble towards all ; you must take great care to bring your spirit to peace and tranquillity, and to choke bad inclinations by attention to the practice of the contrary virtues, resolving to be more diligent,attentive, and active in the practice of virtues ; and note these four words that I am going to say to you : your trouble comes from this, that you rather fear vices than love virtues.
If you could but stir the deep part of your soul to love the practice of gentleness and true humility, my dear daughter, you would be admirable ; but it is necessary to often think about it. Make the morning preparation and in general make the spiritual life a part of your regular duty ; God will repay you with a thousand consolations. But you must not forget to often lift up your heart to God, and your thoughts to eternity.
Read a little every day, I beg you, in the name of God ; do so for me, who every day recommends you to God, and I beg his infinite goodness to bless you for ever, your, Francis de Sales”
Source: St Francis de Sales, Letters to Persons in the World