St. Francis de Sales

Today’s readings | Today’s saint

“A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.” This quote pretty much sums up the way St. Francis de Sales approached life and ministry. Francis de Sales took seriously the words of Christ, “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.” As he said himself, it took him 20 years to conquer his quick temper, but no one ever suspected he had such a problem, so overflowing with good nature and kindness was his usual manner of acting. His perennial meekness and sunny disposition won for him the title of “Gentleman Saint.”

This is a quality that we all wish more people had, and perhaps we wish we had it as well. For all of us who seek to overcome a quick temper, or overcome the disposition to say something we wish we hadn’t, St. Francis de Sales is our patron. Certainly if Saul sought that quality more in his life, his reign as king might not have ended so tragically. The Scriptures end up portraying him as kind of a pathetic package of jealousy, a person who couldn’t see clearly because he couldn’t see past his own ego. This jealousy put the Lord’s anointed, David, in great peril.

Jealousy and ego can ruin an otherwise graced life. When we are constantly on the lookout for what other people have or what other people are doing, then we often miss the great gifts that God is placing right in front of us. Maybe they aren’t the gifts we wish we had, but they are the gifts we really need, or God would never have sent them our way.

And so in praying for gifts, may we call on God for meekness, and humility, and patience. As St. Francis de Sales tells us: “The person who possesses Christian meekness is affectionate and tender towards everyone: he is disposed to forgive and excuse the frailties of others; the goodness of his heart appears in a sweet affability that influences his words and actions, presents every object to his view in the most charitable and pleasing light.” Who wouldn’t want to look at the world that way?