By Susan Ciancio
Can you imagine helping somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 people return to the Catholic faith? What an incredible blessing—to you and those people! A person able to do that must have a special way with talking to people.
Francis de Sales was one such person. He spoke about God and the faith lovingly and with conviction to everyone he met.
Francis was born in 1567 in what is now France. He studied law and theology and received his doctorate in canon and civil law when he was 24. Though his father wanted him to marry, Francis had an intense love for God and wanted to become a priest. After he was ordained, he wrote many pamphlets and two books about the faith, helping people realize that they are all called to be saints. He spent his remaining 20 years shepherding his flock, writing and preaching about the faith, teaching others about God, founding an order of religious sisters, and converting people to Catholicism.
Sometimes it takes a saint like St. Francis de Sales to remind us that God calls us all to be saints and to help build a culture of life here on earth. Even though it may seem hard, becoming a saint is what we must all strive for. How can we do this?
We follow St. Francis’ example of living our faith openly and proudly, following the Commandments, and teaching others about the immense love of God.
So as we celebrate his feast day today, we want to highlight some of his insightful words. We encourage you to contemplate them, to write them on a piece of paper, to share them with friends and family, to use them to help you build a culture of life, and to help you know, love, and serve God in this life so you can be with Him in the next.
That is why we were created.
1. “You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves.”
Our actions matter. What we do and say to others matters. Let us show our love for others by doing good works.
2. “Examine your heart often to see if it is such toward your neighbor as you would like his to be toward you were you in his place.”
This is the golden rule—to do unto others as you would have them do to you. Regularly evaluating our actions to determine if we would want others to treat us that same way will help guide us in our treatment of others.
3. “Ought we not to love dearly the neighbor, who truly represents to us the sacred Person of our Master? And is this not one of the most powerful motives we could have for loving each other with an ardently burning love?”
Loving our neighbor dearly means giving of ourselves by doing things such as helping the single mom with babysitting or by buying groceries, spending time with the elderly neighbor, or visiting that sick friend. Love requires action.
4. “Frequently give up some of your property by giving it with a generous heart to the poor. . . . It is true that God will repay us not only in the next world but even in this.”
Many of us have so much. Let us look through our houses to determine what we no longer need and what is in good shape. Then let us donate it to a shelter or even to a foster family who needs material things to help children feel welcome and safe in their homes.
5. “We must never undervalue any person. The workman loves not that his work should be despised in his presence. Now God is present everywhere, and every person is His work.”
All people matter. And all jobs have value. Let us never look down upon anyone for the profession they hold.
6. “Little deeds that proceed from charity please God and have their place among meritorious acts.”
Small acts of kindness may not be small to those who receive them. Let us do them frequently and with great love, for they often make a huge difference.
7. “Paradise is not obtained by desires, but by deeds.”
We cannot simply wish to be in heaven with God at the end of our lives. We must work toward that goal by following the Commandments and doing good works here on earth every single day.
8. “The King of Glory does not reward His servants according to the dignity of their office, but according to the humility and love with which they have exercised it.”
God doesn’t care what our earthly jobs are, how much money we make, or how many material things we have in our homes. What He truly cares about is what we did with the gifts He gave us—how we helped and protected people (born and preborn), how we treated others, how we raised our families, and how we gave of ourselves to better the lives of others.
As we think about the life that St. Francis de Sales lived, let us work to model our lives after his and to allow his words to help us treat others well and grow closer to God.