I am not a very prayerful person. I have my fair share of conversations with God and of late, the other two parts of the divine trinity, but anyone would tell you that I don’t know many prayers. Since I pretend I can write, and I am casually referred to as a writer, I thought I would on the patron saint of writing. So here is a little about St. Francis de Sales and the influence he had on me.
Although he was the son of a Duke, Francis gave up everything he had, to become a priest. Since his childhood, his father had his entire life planned out for him, right from where and what he would study, , to what he would work as when he was older. However, Francis chose to heed the call of God and said no to all that his father had to offer him. It is true, God has amazing plans for us, if only we yield to his will. I started reading up, researching and getting as much information about Francis de Sales as I possibly could and I am surprised I didn’t come across this guy sooner. He is everything I love about priests. He did more than he was called to do, was very proactive and used his gifts and talents to help others. He knew he wanted to become a priest thirteen years before he finally decided to take the vow and join the seminary, but never mentioned it to his family. How is this connected to me? Well, off late I’ve been having doubts about what I should do with my life.. To spice things up further, , I met a friend of mine after ages who happens to be a brother from the Heralds of the Gospel and he called me a coward, and told me that I am called to do more by stepping out of my comfort zone.
I had been asking for a sign or a clue or something that should tell me what I should do next and then this happened. I just realized that St. Francis waited thirteen years to get a clear unwavering sign. So what’s my hurry then? I will just pray this out till I have a major awakening.
When Francis was told to study in college, he obeyed and said nothing. Francis’ father wanted him to become a lawyer. He expected a lot from his first born. He eventually even found him a bride, got him an amazing job, basically sorted this man’s life out for him, but all that went downhill when Francis decided to come home and tell his folks that he wanted to become a priest. ,It wasn’t just some random or spontaneous decision, but one that he had waited upon the Lord for. He had asked for a clear sign as to whether he should join the priesthood. One day, he fell three times and each time, his sword came out of the case and fell to the floor and the sword and the case fell in the shape of a cross. A sign like that is as clear as day, especially if it happened thrice. He knew there and then that God had amazing plans for him, and today we can all see that he was right.
His father then gave his inheritance to the youngest son and Francis de Sales was ordained.
Francis is also known for his quality of obedience. He followed what his father said, even though he had plans of his own . He refused to believe even what the bishop told him about following Jesus and waited for a clear sign from the Almighty and no one else. He studied all the subjects his father wanted, went through with dancing, fencing and horse riding, although this would rarely be used by a man of God. Something I seem to be struggling with is obeying my parents, even when it’s something so miniscule that obeying should not be an issue, and here is a man who actually went through with an entire lifetime of obedience.
As far as his writing goes, he wrote a book for lay people that came to light after his death, which was pretty revolutionary for the time. Most written material at the time was for the privileged. He has a lot of written work to help people come back from the dark side, mentioning all that one can do to be good. Being made the patron saint of writers less than a century ago, St Francis de Sales was born 10 days before me, we share a birth-month.
As all the examples mentioned above prove, he was no ordinary priest after he received the sign from God, he became one of the best priests ever. An order was created after his death,, and is quite relevant even today. Guess it is true, there is no escaping God’s bigger plan, all we have to do is trust in Him and take that giant leap.
In one of his letters, he writes
‘Let us make our way by the lowly valleys of the little and humble virtues; there we shall see roses amid thorns, charity shining forth amid inward and outward afflictions; the lilies of purity, the violets of mortification…
…Above all I love these three little virtues: sweetness of heart, poverty of spirit, and simplicity of life; and those homely good works of visiting the sick, serving the poor, consoling the afflicted and the like. But all these things ought to be done with true liberty of spirit and tranquilly, not with eagerness. No, indeed, our arms are not yet long enough to reach the cedars of Lebanon, so let us be satisfied with the hyssop of the valleys.’