Posted on 01/24/2020 07:00 AM (Saint of the Day | AmericanCatholic.org)
Saint Francis de Sales
Saint of the Day for January 24
(August 21, 1567 – December 28, 1622)
Saint Francis de Sales’ Story
Francis was destined by his father to be a lawyer so that the young man could eventually take his elder’s place as a senator from the province of Savoy in France. For this reason Francis was sent to Padua to study law. After receiving his doctorate, he returned home and, in due time, told his parents he wished to enter the priesthood. His father strongly opposed Francis in this, and only after much patient persuasiveness on the part of the gentle Francis did his father finally consent. Francis was ordained and elected provost of the Diocese of Geneva, then a center for the Calvinists. Francis set out to convert them, especially in the district of Chablais. By preaching and distributing the little pamphlets he wrote to explain true Catholic doctrine, he had remarkable success.
At 35, he became bishop of Geneva. While administering his diocese he continued to preach, hear confessions, and catechize the children. His gentle character was a great asset in winning souls. He practiced his own axiom, “A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.”
Besides his two well-known books, the Introduction to the Devout Life and A Treatise on the Love of God, he wrote many pamphlets and carried on a vast correspondence. For his writings, he has been named patron of the Catholic Press. His writings, filled with his characteristic gentle spirit, are addressed to lay people. He wants to make them understand that they too are called to be saints. As he wrote in The Introduction to the Devout Life: “It is an error, or rather a heresy, to say devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman…. It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world.”
In spite of his busy and comparatively short life, he had time to collaborate with another saint, Jane Frances de Chantal, in the work of establishing the Sisters of the Visitation. These women were to practice the virtues exemplified in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth: humility, piety, and mutual charity. They at first engaged to a limited degree in works of mercy for the poor and the sick. Today, while some communities conduct schools, others live a strictly contemplative life.
Francis de Sales took seriously the words of Christ, “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.” As he said himself, it took him 20 years to conquer his quick temper, but no one ever suspected he had such a problem, so overflowing with good nature and kindness was his usual manner of acting. His perennial meekness and sunny disposition won for him the title of “Gentleman Saint.”
Posted on 01/23/2020 19:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
Today the Church honors a saint who deserves to be better known for his immense wisdom and practical insights that retain their relevance almost four hundred years after his death. St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) was renowned as a pastor, spiritual director, and eloquent preacher. Though his spirituality flowed from a prayerful heart united to God, his guidance as a pastor of souls retains an attractive practical side that is fresh and compelling today. One example of this applied wisdom is found in his Introduction to the Devout Life, where he touches on a dynamic of conversion that speaks to all of us who battle with addictions of any kind. In this timeless classic, St. Francis teaches that in our battle with sin, we must be sorry before God for being addicted to sin but also come to hate what we are addicted to. This is key to our reform…
Posted on 01/22/2020 19:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:12-17) John has been arrested. The voice crying in the wilderness will soon be raised into eternity. John the Baptist was descended from a priestly line,…
Posted on 01/21/2020 19:00 PM (Word On Fire Sermon Podcast)
Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah and our Gospel are tightly linked, for St. Matthew, in articulating the meaning of Jesus, cites (as is his wont) an Old Testament text—namely, our reading from the eighth and ninth chapters of Isaiah. The prophet speaks of conflict in the land of Zebulon and Naphtali, and then of a great light that shines in that area, signaling the victory of God.
Posted on 01/21/2020 19:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
Vampires are literary and cinematic representations of what St. Peter tells us about in Scripture: “Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But Christ has given us very basic means to resist Satan and his allies, and the best vampire stories play them up for edifying effect, whether the writers are believers or not. In fact, vampire fiction usually presupposes the truth of Christ and the Church’s sacraments, and the inevitable victory of the Holy Spirit over the enemies of the Gospel. Demons are scary, but they’re losers. Here’s one example: A vampire has to be welcomed into a home or building in order to enter. This is a particularly frequent deterrent in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, where bloodthirsty creatures of the night are routinely stopped in their tracks at the threshold of humans’ abodes.
Posted on 01/20/2020 19:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
The eyes of faith behold a wonderful scene: that of a countless number of lay people, both women and men, busy at work in their daily life and activity, oftentimes far from view and quite unacclaimed by the world, unknown to the world’s great personages but nonetheless looked upon in love by the Father, untiring laborers who work in the Lord’s vineyard. — St. John Paul II I met him first in 1998. He has large calloused hands and dirty fingernails and speaks with a southern twang. He’s been fixing cars since he was a kid, under his dad’s tutelage. He works days, nights, and weekends to keep his small business open, and the enormous commitment has cost him a lot in life. Not all good, he admits. But, he once said, “it put food on the family table…
Posted on 01/19/2020 19:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
A lot has been said about the “problem of pain.” Why, if God is both loving and all-powerful, is there still suffering in the world? The question is a challenge for Catholics, as for all theists. As believers, we have some sense of why a loving God would permit suffering. It’s easy enough to see that love is a good (the highest good, even), and that love requires free will. And it’s just a small step from there to see how that free will could be used in some dastardly ways. Likewise, it’s clear enough that a loving God might permit his creatures to suffer, in certain cases, for their (our) own good. This answer to the problem of pain is sensible but not satisfying. There’s no shaking that there’s still something out of whack, something not quite right about this world. Christianity hasn’t been shy about this point the…
Posted on 01/16/2020 19:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
Have you ever confessed a sin and then, no matter how earnestly you intended to amend your life, had the desire to commit that sin again? Why aren’t we simply fixed after Confession? Jesus instituted the sacrament of Confession that our sins may be forgiven and that we may return to friendship with him. He renews our souls, again filling them through the Holy Spirit with the many spiritual gifts first given to us at Baptism. Yet a certain inclination to sin—not the sin itself—remains. The Tradition calls this inclination the fomes peccati, the tinder for sin, or, we might say, the dregs (CCC 1264). These dregs of sin stick around in our minds through the memories of evil committed, and they also remain in our desires through the habitual bad decisions and actions that shape us. As the desires surface, they hurt quite a bit, but as long as they…
Posted on 01/15/2020 19:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people…