Thursday, January 23, 2014

St Francis de Sales

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. Mk 3:13

In many ways St Francis de Sales seems like a perfect example of what Pope Francis wants present day bishops to be. Pastorally active even after being ordained a bishop, he was anxious to work with children, preach and teach. To do this, he wrote two books that remain important today, The Introduction to the Devout Life and A Treatise on the Love of God, both of which were intended for lay people. In addition, he wrote dozens of catechetical and spiritual pamphlets which he hoped would help Calvinists especially realize that all of creation was a gift from God intended to help us attain salvation.

Physical things were not to be avoided, as Calvin seemed to imply, but embraced. If God took human flesh then our bodies must be reverenced and celebrated. The spiritual life is not a journey during which we escape our bodies in order for our spirits to be one with the Spirit of God, but a time to sit at the table of the Lord to feast on the body and blood of the Lord so that some day we might enjoy the eternal banquet in heaven.

Because of people like St Francis de Sales, who planted the seeds of lay spirituality, Catholics today know they are called to holiness in and through their everyday lives. Not all are called to be priests or religious brothers and sisters. Marriage, family, and the single life are all important paths to the heart of God, along which we meet God with every crumb of bread we share and every drop of water we offer to the thirsty. God is discovered in the small, everyday acts of prayer and charity we offer on a daily basis.

Today, let the sounds, sight, smell, touch, and tastes you experience teach you about God.

Who introduced you to a form of spirituality that made sense for you in everyday life?

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