Is the message of St. Francis de Sales still in force?

This 2022 marks the fourth centenary of the death, on December 28, 1622 in Lyon (France), of san Francisco de Sales. Doctor of the Church, the holy bishop of Geneva – where he was never able to set foot due to Protestant hostilities – has similarities with the evangelizing insistences of the pontificate of Pope Francis for his call to daily holiness, the commitment to the encounter in the face of a hostile proselytism, the search for the encounter from a merciful meekness in form and substance…



An invitation

Benedict XVI, in a series of catechesis on the saints, highlighted on March 2, 2011 that St. Francis de Sales with his main work, ‘Introduction to devout life’ made “an invitation that in its time may have seemed revolutionary”. The Salesian Eugenio Alburquerque points out that the “revolutionary invitation” of St. Francis de Sales to be completely of God in the world, in the midst of daily efforts and work is the simple and splendid proposal to realize in us the image of God in which we have been constituted, to live the own Christian vocation to holiness. Created in the image of God, we are called to be of God, to engrave in us his divine image, to live in Him, with Him and for Him. It is a question, then, of becoming who we are and of being joyful and fully so.

This highlighted the Pope Ratzinger:

St. Francis de Sales is, above all, a director of souls: the encounter with a young woman, Madame de Charmoisy, led him to write one of the most widely read books of the modern age, the Introduction to the devout life. From her deep spiritual communion with an exceptional personality, Saint Juana Francisca de Chantal, a new religious family was born, the Order of the Visitation, characterized — as the saint wanted — by a total consecration to God lived in simplicity and humility, in doing extraordinarily well ordinary things“I want my daughters,” he wrote, “to have no other ideal than to glorify.” [a nuestro Señor] with his humility “(Letter to Mons. of Marquemond, June 1615).

To Filotea, the recipient of his Introduction to the devout life (1607), St. Francis de Sales directs an invitation that at the time may have seemed revolutionary. It is the invitation to be completely of God, living fully the presence in the world and the duties of the state itself. “My intention is to instruct those who live in the city, in the conjugal state, in the court…” (Preface a la Introduction to the devout life). Thus was born the call to the laity, the interest in the consecration of temporal things and in the sanctification of the everyday, in which the Second Vatican Council and the spirituality of our time will insist.

A letter

Among the people to whom he dedicated one of his letters in ‘Ilustrísimos señores’ (BAC minor. Madrid 19785, pp. 124-131) Juan Pablo I is the patron saint of journalists. Reviewing the difficulties of his life, Pope Luciani highlights the inner strength that moved Francis de Sales:

Priest, missionary and bishop, you gave your time to others: children, the poor, the sick, sinners, heretics, bourgeois, nobles, prelates, princes. You found, like everyone else, misunderstandings and contradictions: “The heart of flesh ”suffered, but he still loved his adversaries. “If a person took my left eye out of hatred,” you wrote, “I think I would keep looking at him kindly with my right eye.” If I took this one out too, I would still have the heart to love it. ”

For many this is the pinnacle of perfection. But, for you, the top is another, because, as you wrote, “man is the perfection of the universe; the spirit is the perfection of man; love is the perfection of the spirit; the love of God is the perfection of love. ” That is why, for you, the pinnacle, perfection and excellence of the universe is to love God.

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