Blessed Mother and St. Francis de Sales

On this beautiful Mother’s Day, we share the story of the deep devotion St. Francis de Sales had for our Blessed Mother, who saved him from despair in a deep crisis. St Francis of course went on to form an Order dedicated to Blessed Mother, the Visitation of Holy Mary.

sfdsMary“Young Francis, who was unusually sensitive and pious, began to feel vaguely oppressed by the thought that he might well be one of those souls destined to be eternally damned by God.

“Insignificant creature that I am,” he wrote in his notes, “am I to be deprived of the grace of him who has allowed to me so lovingly? O Love, O Charity, O Beauty in whom I have placed all my affections! Will I never again delight in your presence?…O Virgin, most pleasing among all the daughters of Jerusalem, will I never then see
you in the kingdom of your Son?…And will I never participate in the immense benefits of his redemption?…Yet, did my sweet Jesus not die for me as well as for others?…However it may be, Lord, if I cannot love you in eternity, may I love you here on earth.”

These outpourings were so tragic and pain-filled, and in December 1586 the tension became almost insupportable, even physically. Francis was wearing down under the strain.Yet there seemed to be no way out for him, until one day in January 1587. Late one afternoon, returning to his lodging after classes, he stopped, as was his custom, for a visit to the Dominican Church of St. Etiennedes-

Upon entering the church, Francis went directly to the chapel of the Black Madonna. There he made an heroic act of abandonment: “Whatever you have desired concerning me, Lord, in your eternal secret of predestination and reprobation, you whose judgements are unfathomable…I will love you always, at least in this life, if it is not given me to love you in eternity. If, deserving it, I am to be…among the damned who will never gaze upon your face, grant that at least I may not be among those who curse your holy name.”Then he happened to pick up a tablet that was hanging from the railing in the chapel, suggesting to all visitors to recite the prayer the Memorare. Francis began, “Remember, O most gracious Virgin...”and recited the prayer in its entirety. “He said it right through, rose from his knees, and at that very moment felt entirely healed,” wrote Saint Jane de Chantal. “His troubles, so it seemed to him, had fallen about his feet like a leper’s scales.”

All at once, in a spirit of gratitude and for fear that one day his eyes, or mouth, or hands might betray what was really in his heart, he made a vow of virginity to God and to the Blessed Mother. To secure this, he promised to say the rosary every day for the rest of his life.

Source: Mary’s Role in the Faith Crisis of St. Francis de Sales
Sr. Marie Chantal Sbordone, VHM

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