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!

 

 

2 Responses to “Blessed Feast of St. Francis de Sales!”

  1. Ruth Cassin says:

    Thank you, Sr. Susan Marie! And a blessed Feast of St. Francis de Sales to you and all the sisters.

    “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.” [SFdS]

    I am not sure how this — and the explanation below it — “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” is to be understood and practiced while we are here on this earth. “Busying” ourselves with those earthly desires that are in tune with reaching our reasonable proximal goals seems to me a necessity. Can we not assume — especially if we’ve prayed about it — that it IS what God wills of us and for us when we desire something good, even earthly and material things? Should we not ask for what we think we need — or even what we desire (as a child would of a parent)? But at the same time we must pray as wholeheartedly as we are able, “Grant that I may love you always, then do with me what you will.” It is through strong desires that we are motivated to work hard for what we discern to be His will for us and for the family or society in which we live on Earth. However, we need also to accept what may seem like “failure,” and keep on searching to do God’s will, God’s work, here in this broken world — asking Him for all the tools we need to do it.

    Some examples: e.g. Is it not fine to ask God to help you find an elevator repair person so that the elevator in the monastery can be repaired so that all the sisters, including the handicapped, can get into the chapel for Divine Office and Mass? Or e.g. is it not perfectly all right for a person to ask for good health? Jesus healed so many, and said that if we believe in Him we will do the works he does and even greater. [John 14:12] Is it not honorable for a mother to ask for strength, support, and even money enough, to take care of her child? Is it not OK, e.g., for a student aspiring to become a physician, and desiring wholeheartedly to study well in the hope of serving her future patients well, to ask God to supply her needs and not allow her to be excessively distracted by material needs such as for food, shelter, some sort of transportation to get to classes, etc., and not be hampered by serious health problems? Yes, it could be that God will have a different “solution” to the problems than the solutions we see: For instance, He will provide the sisters, in the long run, with a simpler living arrangement, all on one floor. Or the mother may realize that she needs to give up her child for adoption. Or another mother give up her own life for a good reason and leave her husband or others to care for the child(ren). [St. Gianna Beretta Molla]. Perhaps the wannabe physician has to give up his/her studies for health reasons, or because no scholarships or grants are available or the school does not allow part time employment during medical studies, resulting in the student’s inability to support himself/herself in even a most frugal manner. If, in such a case, despite feeling like a failure or discriminated against because of poverty, she asks anew, “Lord what will you have me do, now?” the no-longer-medical-student may discover a different “passion” that serves the Lord even better, and brings much happiness.

    I see it as not by abandoning “proximal” goals, including earthly, material ones, but by asking God for what we perceive ourselves and others to need and working hard at those intermediate goals WHILE keeping clearly before us the ultimate goal — eternal salvation/the Kingdom of God — that we work out our salvation and contribute to making the world a place where the HOPE and JOY of CHRIST’S VICTORY OVER SIN AND DEATH become more evident. Isn’t that what SFdS means when he says?

    “The heart that is taken and pressed with a desire of praising the divine goodness more than it is able, after many endeavours goes oftentimes out of itself, to invite all creatures to help it in its design.” [Treatise on the Love of God (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1884), 221.] “All creatures” can include angels and saints in heaven but also other humans here below, animals, plants and even material things. “Son, they have no wine.”

  2. Carol Ann says:

    Blessed Feast Day to all! May we rest in God’s loving care today and always.

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