Friday, January 18, 2013

All Available Means

It is no secret that I greatly esteem St. Francis de Sales.  Discovering in the mid 1980s that this Doctor of the Church was patron of Catholic writers, I asked him to "pray for any writing I might ever do."  It was not long after that when I began journaling about what it could mean to live as a "cloistered heart."  

As time went on, I was amazed to learn how "cloistered heart" many of Francis de Sale's ideas actually were.  Because his feast day is coming soon, I'd like to look at some of his teachings.  My intention is not to focus here on Francis himself, but upon how his thoughts draw us to live for God, right here, right now... 400 years after his life on earth.

Writer Elisabeth Stopp described Francis' advice as having an atmosphere of "inspired common sense."  He taught devout persons living in the world to "go cheerfully about their daily tasks, to avoid haste and over-eagerness, never to try and force things, to be uncomplicated and unafraid, putting their whole trust in God and not in themselves.  They were to use all available means - their state in life, the difficulties of their temperament, everything great and small that happened to them - to one supreme end:  the love of God.  To further this end they were to use the ordinary channels of grace - the sacraments, prayer, the practice of virtues..."  (Stopp, St. Francis de Sales Selected Letters, Harper and Row, NY, 1960, pp. 33-34)

If I read ... really read... the above paragraph, I can find enough "inspired common sense" to last a lifetime.  May St. Francis de Sales pray for each one of us, that we may use all available means to direct us to the love of God.
For Prayer and Reflection:

  • What "available means" do I see in my life today?  
  • How am I using these means to lead me to the One Supreme End?  
  • How can I make better use of these available means?
"The means of attaining devotion vary according to the diversity of callings:  religious, widows, and married persons - all must seek this perfection, but not all by the same means."  (St. Francis de Sales)

"I know very well that there, on your sick bed, you cast your heart a thousand times a day into the hands of God, and that's enough."  (St. Francis de Sales)

Painting: Frederic Leighton, Music Lesson

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