"E" is for everlasting, like the down-to-earth wisdom that one finds in the "Spiritual Conferences of St. Francis de Sales." As part of our monthly spotlight on St. Francis de Sales, we feature Sister Mary de Sales and her favorite work by her namesake: the "Spiritual Conferences."
The "Spiritual Conferences of St. Francis de Sales" (commonly referred to in Salesian circles as "The Conferences") are, perhaps, one of the least well-known works of the patron saint of journalism. The 21 conferences were talks that St. Francis de Sales gave to the early sisters of the Visitation; they were not composed for publication. In fact, the conferences were all delivered orally and recorded by our early sisters. Many parts of the conferences seem to be in response to questions which the sisters asked; other parts appear to be spiritual talks which were delivered on a special occasion. The sources for the conferences are from two of our early sisters, Sister Claude-Agnes Joly de la Roche and Sister Marie-Marguerite Michel who, despite little time for leisure, recorded the conferences as faithfully as their memories allowed. Each sister had a different style of writing, the former had a knack for preserving the theological points and organizational structure of a conference and the latter, a preference for anecdotes and practical examples.
Pictured above, Sister Mary de Sales poses with a well-used copy of the conferences. Sister loves the practical day-to-day examples that illustrate the gentle spirit which which St. Francis de Sales encouraged us to live. With good reason, they are her favorite works by Our Holy Founder.
"You must not, then, be astonished or discouraged when you commit some fault or imperfection before your sisters . . . . You may have been guilty of some fault of silliness, it is true; but it was before your sisters, who love you dearly, who can very well bear with you in your faults, and who will feel more compassion for you than indignation against you."
St. Francis de Sales
Conference IV (On Cordiality)