Posted by: liturgicalyear | January 24, 2012

Saint Francis de Sales

Today we celebrate the feast of one of my personal faves, St. Francis de Sales.

What I like most about this sixteenth century Doctor of the Church is his very understandable writings and teaching exhorting the average lay person to respond to the universal call to holiness.  Uncoined during his time, this phrase, “the universal call to holiness”, was articulated in the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, having been published in 1964, more than 300 years after St. Francis’ death.  St. Francis understood it from early on and preached its truth to his dying day.

I have referenced his greatest work, Introduction to the Devout Life, many times in my writings.  Today, I thought I’d pass along to you links to some of other of his writings and some tidbits I ran across that might enrich you.  I also share with you some quotes which epitomize his very practical advice.  Take some time to reflect on them and see what the Lord is saying to you today.

Would you also join me in praying in thanksgiving for my Mom, today?  It’s her birthday…and I’m so glad she was born!!!

Her life is a gift from my grandmother who was dirt poor when she became pregnant with her second child.  A close friend suggested that my grandmother have an abortion, leaving pills with her “to take care of it”.  Those pills would have snuffed out my mother’s life, my life, my two sisters and two brothers lives, and the lives of my mom’s 26 grandchildren.  What a loss for the world!  I don’t think we can ever truly understand the impact one life can have.

On the day after we marked the tragic passing of Roe v. Wade in our country with the March for Life in Washington, and on the day after our President stated that abortion allows, “Our daughters to fulfill their dreams,”  let us storm the gates of heaven for all those women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies, that they will have the grace and practical support to see through the struggle and give life to their unborn children.  Let us pray for an increase in the virtue of purity in our nation.  Let us pray, too, in thanksgiving for all of our mothers and for all those women and men who have chosen life in difficult circumstances.   Mary, Mother of Mercy, Refuge of Sinners, Pray for us!

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!  Anne 

Quotes from St. Francis de Sales

“There is no better way of growing toward perfection in the spiritual life than to be always starting over again and never thinking that we have done enough.”

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength”

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.”

“Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are always with you. Often invoke them, constantly praise them, and make good use of their help and assistance in all your temporal and spiritual affairs.”

“While I am busy with little things, I am not required to do greater things.”

“Friendships begun in this world will be taken up again, never to be broken off.”

“Nothing is more like a wise man than a fool who holds his tongue.”

“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 God and man by loving. Begin as a mere apprentice and the very power of love will lead you on to become a master of the art.”

“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and everyday. Either he will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

“Have patience to walk with short steps until you have wings to fly.”

On-line resources (be patient, some of the pdf files take a while to load):

Introduction to the Devout Life

Treatise on the Love of God

Discerning God’s will (scroll down for to the second letter)

The Catholic Controversy (once on the site, scroll down for the .pdf version)

The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales have a terrific website, chock full of Salesian materials.  Take some time to poke around:

  • Prayer of the heart  – reflections to use for mental prayer according to Salesian spirituality – very practical!  Scroll down and you’ll find a whole bunch of different meditations
  • Daily with de Sales – scroll down and click on the month to find a daily meditation

Emblematic Habit of Mind (not an original article, but very interesting reflection on St. Francis’ practice of imagery to strengthen memory to build and learn prayer and faith.  Lengthy, but quite interesting.)


Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal: Letters of Spiritual Direction (Classics of Western Spirituality)

Thy Will be done, Letters to Persons in the World

The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady

St. Francis de Sales Act of Abandonment

O my God, I thank you and I praise
you for accomplishing your holy
and all-lovable will without any regard for mine.
With my whole heart,
in spite of my heart,
do I receive this cross I feared so much!

It is the cross of Your choice,
the cross of Your love.
I venerate it;
nor for anything in the world
would I wish that it had not come,
since You willed it.

I keep it with gratitude and with joy,
as I do everything that comes from Your hand;
and I shall strive to carry it without letting it drag,
with all the respect
and all the affection which Your works deserve. Amen.



  1. Thanks for this post, I was moved by your reflection on your Mother’s birthday. “Her life is a gift from my grandmother” To see so clearly that one abortion is not just about a woman’s choice for her own life but how that choice is linked to multiple generations which will or will not have life. Very important thought to ponder. Have a blessed day.

    • Thank you for your kind thoughts. Writing about my mom and grandmother (to whom I was very close) in that situation brought tears to my eyes. I also have two adopted daughters, born after Roe v. Wade. Their lives have touched countless others. Two women’s very painful journeys have made all the difference in my life, and I will never be the same. Both women and their families have been part of our lives since the girls’ births. It was a very difficult experience for them, and although heart-wrenching, it was filled with hope because it was filled with life and love, as is my mom’s life. I can’t help but think that if women could only see beyond the immediate, they would make different choices. I am humbled by the choices of these 3 women in my life, and I will always be eternally grateful. Anne

  2. Another outstanding post, Anne! I am always blessed by your gift of weaving liturgical feast day reflections with current cultural and societal issues…What a difference one life makes to so many others…Thanks for sharing!

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