Memorial of St. Francis de Sales

Scripture Readings: 2 Sam 7:4-17;  Mk 4:1-20

A mother writing to Bishop Francis de Sales complained, “Bishop, I’m trying very hard to live a good life, to be holy, but I can’t get to Mass every day because I have these seven children who are driving me crazy.”  He replied, “Madam, you’re becoming a saint by being the best mom you can be. The call to holiness is not just for religious and clergy who can go to Mass every day. It’s the vocation of every Christian:  soldiers, carpenters, princes, married men and women.  Holiness and the devout life is for everyone.”

He also taught that, “One day of devotion is worth more than a thousand years of worldly life.” 

And that, “A half hour meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”

Does that discourage you?  Well, he also said, “Don’t lose courage because of your imperfections. It’s a mistake to get angry because you are angry, to be upset at being upset, to be depressed at being depressed. Simply surrender to God.  His love is greater than our faults and weaknesses. Have patience with yourself.”


Memorial of St. Francis de Sales

Scripture Readings: Heb 10:1-10;  Mk 31-35                                

In his treatise “On the Love of God” the teaching of St. Francis de Sales about mortal sin, or the loss of love, deeply impressed me.    He writes,  “While it is true that only little by little we come to despise God, we have no sooner done it than instantly true charity perishes.”1  But after love has perished there frequently remains a certain resemblance of charity, like the scent of perfume lingering in a room long after the source is gone. 2

So, it is not immediately apparent that the divine gift of grace is gone,  and that only an imperfect human habit of love remains.   He writes,  “I have seen young people, well brought up in the love of God,  who,  putting themselves off that path,  remained for some time, …  still giving signs of their past virtue. …   For some months one could not discern whether they were in charity or not, whether they were virtuous or vicious.” 3

His teaching is both a warning and a consolation.  It is a warning that the human imitation of true charity may deceive us for many months and longer.  But look again later on and it will be more evident that sin has mastered someone’s heart.  Conversely,  his teaching is a consolation for the same reason,  that the fruits of enduring love for many months and years are evidence that true charity reigns in our hearts.   

One of the fruits of true charity is the desire to pray with others,  because Christ is present when two or three are gathered together in his name as we are this morning.   Love brings us together in this Eucharist to pray for one another, for perseverance,  for Christian Unity, and for those who are no longer in love.

1. St. Francis De Sales,  Treatise on the Love of God,  Newman Press, Maryland,  1953, Book IV, Chapter IV,  p. 174.

2. Ibid  p. 192

3. Ibid   p. 193