Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Today the Church recalls the life and work of St. Francis de Sales. Born in 1567 Francis went to school at the famous College of Clermont run by the Jesuits. He was both intelligent and sensitive, and became preoccupied with his own sins in light of God’s judgment. A sort of conversion occurred which liberated his anxieties based on the insights gained by meditating on the Love of God. These insights along with others were published as the Introduction to the Devout Life, a book that has remained a spiritual classic and helped earn Francis de Sales the title Doctor of the Church.

Francis was not only a spiritual writer but the bishop of Geneva, a city torn by religious division between Catholics and Calvinists. In the midst of this conflict Francis lived a life of simplicity, piety, and preached the gospel in a matter that appealed to both sides of a divided city.  He expected the same of his priests and soon his diocese became a model of the Catholic reform which was spreading through Europe. His mild manner, his wisdom, and his care for the poor quickly made a figure of popular sanctity soon after his death in 1622.

The life of St. Francis de Sales reminds us that our lives can be a positive influence on others. We may not be a bishop, but the practice of  charity, wisdom, and sacrifice usually help us and others move towards God.

January 24th, 2014