12 February 2013

Our Holy Father's Feast Day, Part I of IV

January 24 was the feast day of our Holy Father, St. Francis de Sales. He founded our Visitation order in 1610 with St. Jane de Chantal in Annecy, France. Then our male counterparts, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, were founded in 1870, thanks to a Visitandine's (Mother Mary de Sales Chappuis's) badgering Fr. Henri Brisson (newly beatified) in Troyes, France, until he finally gave in and founded the Oblate order.

Over the next few days we will post photos from our celebration.

Here's what our Oblate brother, Fr. Michael Murray OSFS wrote about the Feast day:

(January 24, 2013: Francis de Sales - Bishop, Founder and Doctor of the Church) 
* * * * *
“A patient person is better than a warrior, and those who master their tempers are stronger than one who would capture a city.” 

So close, yet so far. 

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that that’s how Francis de Sales might have characterized his feelings regarding one of his greatest hopes that remained – sadly – unfulfilled - the return of Catholicism to the city of Geneva. Notwithstanding his success in the Chablais Region during the first four years of his priesthood, his pivotal prominence as Bishop of Geneva, his reputation as a man who could reach minds and soften hearts, his gift for shuttle diplomacy, and as one who “befriended many along the road to salvation,” the full restoration of his See remained frustratingly beyond his reach. 

It’s easy to overlook, but Francis de Sales isn’t remembered for having the “Midas Touch.” It’s not like every initiative or endeavor that the “Gentleman Saint” touched turned to gold or ended with overwhelming success. Nevertheless, the Church recognizes him as a spiritual giant precisely because of his willingness to master the city of his own temper, to curb the city of his own enthusiasm and to discipline the city of his own passion in pursuing God and the things of God by choosing to focus his energies on evangelizing those whom he could reach rather than becoming embittered about those he could not reach. True to Fr. Brisson’s assessment of the Salesian method for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, Francis de Sales met people where they were – not where they weren’t. 

Not unlike Our Lord Himself! 

On his Feast day of the “Bishop of Geneva” let us ask for the grace to imitate his example! May we experience the self-mastery that is even “better than a warrior” by focusing our energies and effort on everything that is within our power to do for the love of God and neighbor, and to let go of whatever is not.

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