St. Francis de Sales, Mentor and Model
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), a Swiss theologian and the patron saint of writers has long been my mentor and model, and one of my most powerful intercessors. As a graduate student in theology and as a freelance writer, I look to him for guidance and for assistance in my studies and my writing. His unique methods of evangelization have also greatly inspired me.
At the age of thirteen, Francis studied theology at the University of Paris and immediately afterword earned a doctorate in law. However, he felt called to the priesthood and was ordained and during the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church at this time was losing many of its parishioners to the new churches of the Protestant Reformation and Francis set out to restore Catholicism to the area around Lake Geneva known as Chablais.
For three years, he trudged through the countryside, his feet frozen and bleeding, as he trampled through the snow. No one would listen to him, so he wrote out his sermons, copying them by hand in the form of leaflets, and placed them under doors. It is said that he converted 40,000 people by the time he left to return home. As Bishop of Geneva, his words of inspiration and wise counsel led many people to live out the gospel message in their lives. He founded the Order of the Visitation with St. Jane Francis de Chantal, a good friend, with whom he shared his spiritual beliefs. He remained active throughout his life, using his talent for writing to assist him in ministering to others. St. Francis de Sales is a Doctor of the Church and patron of the Catholic press.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from St. Francis de Sales:
“The highest degree of meekness consists in seeing, serving, honoring, and treating amiably, on occasion, those who are not to our taste, and who show themselves unfriendly, ungrateful, and troublesome to us.”
“Keep your heart very wide to receive in it all sorts of crosses and resignations or abnegations, for the love of Him who has received so many of them for us.”
“Faithfully attend to your obligations, but know that you have no greater obligation than that of your salvation and of the saving progress of your soul on the way to true devotion.”
“Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, not even if your whole world seems upset. If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God, lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply.”
“How beautiful it is to behold a person destitute of all attachment, ready for any act of virtue or charity, gentle to all, indifferent as to any employment, serene in consolations and tribulations, and wholly content if only the will of God is done!”
~ copyright January 2012, Jean M. Heimann