Blessed Feast of St. Francis de Sales!
In these contemporary times, since Vatican 11, the Feast of St. Francis de Sales has been celebrated on January 24th, moved from its former date of January 29.
This act of God’s Divine Providence, through the hands of the Church, places St. Francis and St. Paul as “next –door- neighbors”, so to speak, as the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul falls on January 25th.
And St. Francis had much to say about this great Apostle. While their temperaments and missions were different and distinct, St Francis de Sales admired the Apostle greatly and refers to him in all of his major works, including the Introduction to the Devout Life, The Treatise on the Love of God, the Spiritual Conferences and the Catholic Controversy.
Living within the Providence of God is an elemental tenet of St. Francis de Sales’ spirituality. He also attributes a like disposition to St. Paul. Quoting from his Spiritual Conferences, Conference XX1 regarding Divine Providence and St. Paul, we read:
“I say, then, that we must neither ask anything nor refuse anything, but leave ourselves absolutely in the arms of divine Providence, without busying ourselves with any desires, except to will what God wills of us. St. Paul practiced this self-abandonment most excellently at the very moment of his conversion, for when Our Lord had smitten him with blindness, he cried out instantly: “Lord what wilt thou have me to do ? ” and from that time forth he continued in absolute dependence upon the will and commands of God. Our whole perfection lies in the practice of this ; and the same St. Paul, writing to one of his disciples, forbids him, among other things, to allow his heart to be engrossed with any strong desire, so well did the great Apostle know the danger of this failing.
You say: ” We must not, then, desire virtues, although Our Lord says: Ask, and it shall be given to you.” Oh, my daughters, when I say that you must ask for nothing and desire nothing, I am speaking of earthly things ; as for virtues, we may, of course, ask for them, and in asking for the love of God, we comprise all, for it contains them all.”
Each one of us needs to rest our hearts within the embrace of God’s Divine Providence, and draw from Our Lord the little virtues we need every day.
During the Feast Day celebrations of these two great saints, St. Francis de Sales and St. Paul, let us follow their lead and live from the holy Providence of God, in a spirit of deep gratitude.
Many blessings on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales!