Happy Feast Day of St. Francis de Sales! For the past two years, I have called upon St. Francis de Sales’ intercession often.
St. Francis de Sales is responsible for my blog’s namesake, Finding Philothea. When my husband and I started our blog two years ago, we had the idea of writing and sharing love letters to each other, something that has always been a key part of our relationship. We thought about famous love letters, and the many letters of Saint Francis de Sales came to mind! He would address his letters to Philothea, or, “the one who loves God,” as a general address to all of the faithful. We decided to take Saint Francis de Sales as our patron and name our blog Finding Philothea as inspiration to always find the “one who loves God” in one another and others, challenging each other to grow.
The Saints are in the Details
God sends us Saints to accompany us on our journey of faith here on earth and to help us reach our heavenly home. The Saints are yearning to be part of the little details of our daily life. Whether that is creating a blog, doing the dishes, driving to work, studying for an exam, or visiting a friend in need–our Church teaches us that we are not alone. We are able to call upon the hosts of Heaven to be spiritually present with us.
While Saint Francis de Sales was alive here on earth, his passion was to help ordinary men and woman reach heaven and the heights of holiness through their everyday tasks. That is what he continues to do as a Saint in Heaven. He is interceding for us as we strive for the Kingdom of God each day.
The “Gentleman Saint”
Francis de Sales is known as “the Gentleman Saint” due to his patience and gentleness. He truly heeded Jesus’ call in the Gospel to live life fully and abundantly (John 10:10) through incorporating prayer into his daily life. He loved horseback riding, dancing, and fencing. After receiving his doctorate in law and theology, Francis became the Bishop of Geneva in 1602.
Francis was filled with love for God and for the men, women, and children he was surrounded by. He devoted his time to spiritual direction of lay people, which was extremely unusual for the time. His way of teaching Catholic spirituality is known as the “Way of Divine Love,” or the “Devout Life.” This is reflected in the title of one of his most famous works, Philothea, or An Introduction to the Devout Life.
Francis’ love for God and others was so deep that he once developed a sign language in order to teach a deaf man about God! Because of this, he is known as the patron saint of the deaf. St. Francis is also the patron saint of writers and journalists.
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3 Ways To Celebrate the Feast of St. Francis de Sales
Here are three simple ways to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Francis de Sales.
1. Read an excerpt from An Introduction to the Devout Life.
I remember hearing a story about another great Francis in heaven, St. Francis of Assisi. He and his brothers would often say a prayer to the Holy Spirit and then open the Bible, trusting that God would reveal to them in that moment exactly what they needed to read. For the past few weeks, I have been doing this with the Diary of Saint Faustina. I place myself in the presence of God by invoking the Holy Spirit, asking Him to show me what my heart needs. I then open Faustina’s Diary and read a paragraph or two, spending a few minutes afterwards reflecting and praying with the words that I read.
This is a beautifully simple way to honor St. Francis de Sales today on his Feast. Say a prayer, ask his intercession, and open his book, reading a paragraph or two. If you don’t have a copy you can research some of his famous quotes and spend a few minutes reflecting on his words.
2. Write a letter.
St. Francis de Sales counseled and directed many men and women through his correspondence with them. His letters are full of love, gentle instruction, and God’s tender mercy. Francis would even write out copies of his sermons, slipping them under people’s doors. The beauty of his written word converted thousands, (some say up to 72,000 in the Swiss countryside alone!). Francis teaches us that written words—especially words that proclaim the beauty, truth, and goodness of God—hold power and are meant to be shared!
A way we can celebrate his Feast is to write a letter to someone. It is such a joy to receive a letter in the mail! It feels like a special treat during this time of e-mails and texting. When we write a letter, we take the time to physically share our hearts with another person. It is a slow process, one that gives us time to reflect and think of the person whom we are sharing our heart with, pondering their dignity and beauty.
Letters are Worth a Thousand Words
When my husband and I began dating five years ago, he started writing me letters. At the end of every month he would hand me an envelope with all the letters he wrote to me that month. He did that for the entirety of our dating and engagement period. On our wedding day, he handed me a journal of love letters he had been writing. I treasure those letters, the words that helped reveal my husband’s heart to me.
You don’t have to write a love letter today (although you can!). But consider taking time to think of someone in your life who needs the message of God’s joy. Even if it is a small note, share your heart with someone, spreading your unique light and love!
3. Ponder the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
St. Francis de Sales had a great devotion to the Mother of God’s heart. He wrote to many men and women about the importance of pondering the life of Mary, who is our model for loving God.
St. Francis’ writings about Mary and her love of God influenced another Saint, St. John Eudes, to develop his famous devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. I love this story! Saints influencing other Saints! It teaches us never to be afraid to speak about our personal love for God, Mary, the Angels, and the Saints! We never know the deep impact that our words may have. Because St. Francis de Sales shared his love for Mary, he influenced another Saint to love Mary too, who in turn has affected thousands of men and women over the centuries.
Ponder Mary’s heart today. Pray a Hail Mary in the silence of your heart, recite the Rosary with a friend, or look at your favorite image of Our Lady for a few minutes. Don’t be afraid to share your love of Mary with others!
Happy Feast Day!
Happy Feast of St. Francis de Sales! May this Gentleman Saint lead and guide you towards Heaven. May we always follow his example of sharing our love of God with others and entrusting our hearts to Him through Our Lady.
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