Br F Regis Hickey
In the past month we have written about four saints. Today I would refer to a fifth – a saint who was many things but at the core of his
soul he was gentle. I am speaking of St Francis de Sales.
Francis was a bishop in 16th century Savoy, on the border of France and Switzerland. He was also a writer and had spent years as a missioner. He was
a great people person, evident in his special friendship with St Frances de Chantal, with whom he founded the Sisters of the Visitation. He was a man ahead of his time for he wrote, preached and lived a very
contemporary message – that in our daily living we can experience the presence of God in this world.
Francis believed in the value of the human, the concrete, the ordinary. He challenged people to see and
experience the holy in themselves, in their family and friends, at work and play. He believed that everything in life is an opportunity to love God.
I have always admired St Francis de Sales, possibly because
of the wisdom of his saying, “You will catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than you will with a barrel full of vinegar.” He wanted to ennoble and set people free, not to manipulate them. He believed in
affirmation, in stressing the positive, though he did not cheapen this by overdoing it. How different his approach from that of those who think they can improve a person by constantly harping on his or her faults.
Or those who believe that the way to help someone is to confront them on every issue. Francis knew there was a time for such action, but it should not be overdone. And a surer way into people’s hearts is to love
Francis is the patron saint of journalists. In his writings he combined his spirituality and his natural gifts. Among his sayings are the following:
Do not look forward to what may happen
tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
courage, and turn troubles which you cannot remedy into material for progress and maturity.
Do everything calmly and peacefully. Do as much as you can as well as you can.
Do not lose your inner peace
for anything whatsoever, not even if your whole world seems upset. If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God, lead your heart back to him quietly and simply.