Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Casting Out Devils From Your Life

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:

Jesus said with the utmost clarity“Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.”(Mt. 17:21) Often the devil or devils have a real stronghold in our lives, and to make things worse, we are not even aware of it. One of the greatest victories of the devil is to hide or camouflage himself, or better yet, trick us into believing that he does not even exist!
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in his rules for discernment (Rule 13, first week of Rules for discernment) states that devil likes to work in secrecy and strives to get us to keep our interior lives secret to everybody. This secrecy even includes hiding our state of soul to our Confessor or Spiritual Director.
The same saint emphasizes the fact that when we are going through tough times of desolation a tactic of the devil is that  he convinces us to keep it under lock and key, keep it to ourselves—top secret! As such the devil will magnify and accentuate our problem transforming it from a mole-hill into a mountain. A small cut can get infected, and eventually turn gangrenous and even lead to an amputation. Spiritual maladies have to be brought to the Spiritual doctor— that is to say, a good Confessor or Spiritual Director.
An essential tool to be used frequently, prudently, and with proper spiritual direction is the tool of penance; and fasting is one of the primary applications of the penitential life.
On one occasion while I was taking a walk, a big black bird was in my path. As I drew closer, I expected the big bird to take flight, but he did not. At first, it occurred to me that maybe I was a modern Saint Francis, but that was not the case at all. The bird was land-bound for the simple reason that he had either wounded or even broken one of his wings!
A spiritual reflection flashed across my mind and it was this:  we can be compared to that black bird!  The bird is created to fly high into the deep blue sky! Likewise the human person, created in the image and likeness of God and baptized into the family of God, is called to fly high in the spiritual life, and eventually reach heaven.
However, for the human person to soar high into the mystical heights he needs two strong wings, to loft him on high: 1) Fervent prayer, and 2) constant penance. The Spiritual writers call these two dimensions of the spiritual life the Ascetical life which leads to the Mystical life!
This being said, we would like to outline some of the basic reasons why the human person should pray fervently all the days of his life, but at the same time cultivate a penitential life marked by the practice of fasting. Unless we have strong and sufficient reasons to motivate us we will never really undertake the practice seriously.
Here we go with the reasons to learn to fast:
1. Imitation of Christ.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Indeed He is our model!  Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the desert, giving us an example to follow. (Mt. 4:1-11) Few if any of us can fast forty days and forty nights—the duration of the Lenten Season! But we all can do at least a little. The Saintly Cure of Ars said that fasting is hard just at the start and then it becomes a habit.
2. Personal Reparation.  We are all born as sinners with Original Sin. Then during the course of our lives we commit actual sins. In justice we are obliged to repair for the sins we have committed in justice towards God. An old Midas muffler commercial put it succinctly: “Pay now or pay later.”Better for us to pay now than to do so later in Purgatory. Fasting indeed can be a powerful means to shorten our stay in Purgatory!
3. Family Reparation. We all know of family members, either in our blood family or family circles, of members who have simply walked away from God, no longer believe in God, are indifferent to God or even at times violently opposed to all that refers to God. These individuals who were redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus are in desperate need of prayer and fasting. Our Lady of Fatima warned us seriously: “Many souls are lost because nobody prays and offers up sacrifices for them.” Who knows, maybe our acts of penance could save immortal souls for all eternity!
4. Social Reparation. On the level of our nation we must apply ourselves to serious prayer and reparation and fasting due to the many moral evils that are afflicting our country—especially the scourge and plague of abortion. About every 20 seconds a baby is aborted, three a minute, and 4,000 a day in USA. Since Roe vs. Wade, Jan 22nd, 1973, approximately 45 million surgical abortions have been perpetrated. Due to the fact that this river of innocent blood of innocent babies has been shed, we all must feel it incumbent upon ourselves to carry out fervent prayers and fasting. Actually the Bishops of the United States have proclaimed January 22nd as a National day of prayer and penance (fasting) to repair for the sins of abortion as well as to prevent future abortions. Let us all do our part with generosity!
5. Cast Out Devils.   As we said earlier in the essay Jesus said that some devils can be cast out only by prayer and fasting. Saint Pope John Paul II mentioned in one of his discourses that sin can even be institutionalized—that is to say embedded or deeply engrained in the fabric of society. How true even more so today. Abortion institutionalized since 1973, the legalization of Same-sex unions that have the same legal status as Traditional marriages, States legalizing Euthanasia—the killing of the elderly and infirm, widespread legalization of embryonic research resulting in killing of the little/tiny babies in laboratories, the deep encrustation of the pornographic culture destroying the minds and hearts and families at large. This institutionalization of sin can only be cast out and conquered by the strongest spiritual medicine—fervent prayer to Almighty God and rigorous and constant penance. One of the most convincing examples of prayer and fasting was the person of the Cure of Ars, Saint John Marie Vianney. He fasted many days by eating nothing, or eating once a day on two or three potatoes, and then sleeping only three hours a night. His fervent prayer was: “ Lord send me any suffering but save the souls of my parishioners.”
Let us pray that we would be imbued with the spirit of the saints and undertake in our lives fervent prayer but also fasting. Let us fast in this life so as to feast forever with God in heaven for all eternity!

Don Bosco's Popes: Pius XII

The following comes from SDB.org:

Eugene Pacelli was born in Rome on 2nd March 1876. In the brief Conclave of 1-2 March 1939 he was elected Pope. He died on 9th October 1958. He approved the Congregation’s decree on Seminaries and Universities of 3rd May 1940, which formally erected the Pontifical Salesian Athenaeum (PAS) On 24th June he canonised Saint Mary Mazzarello. He beatified (5th March 1950) and canonised (12th June 1954) St. Dominic Savio. He proclaimed the heroic virtue of Don Michael Rua (26th June 1953). He introduced the Cause for beatification of Zeffirino Namancurà (10th December 1956), and the Cause for beatification of Dorothy de Chopitea (21st June 1957).

Brother Roger: When a human being is understood

When a human being is understood... from Taize on Vimeo.

Saint of the day: Angela Merici

Today we remember St. Angela Merici! She was a wonderful, holy woman who founded the Ursuline Sisters.

The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Franciscan tertiary at age 15. She received a vision telling her she would inspire devout women in their vocation.

In Crete, during a pilgrimage to Holy Land, she was struck blind. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going on, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.

In 1535 she gathered a group of girl students and began what would become the Institute of Saint Ursula (Ursuline Sisters), founded to teach children, beginning with religion and later expanding into secular topics; her first schools were in the Italian cities of Desenazno and Brescia.

 To learn more about her click here.

Lantern by Josh Ritter

Monday, January 26, 2015


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it knownthat any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy clemency hear and answer me. Amen.

Don Bosco's Popes: Pius XI

The following comes from the SDB.org:

Achille Ratti was born in Desio (Milan) on 31st May 1857. He became Pope on 6th February 1922. He died on 10th February 1939. In Autumn 1883, as a young priest, he went to visit St. John Bosco and his Oratory, where he stayed for two days: he too sat at table with Don Bosco and left full of profound and pleasant memories. That contact he had had with the Saint was always something he spoke about. He put full effort into quickly promoting Don Bosco’s Cause, and the Canonisation was established for Easter Sunday 1934, the closing of the Holy Year. He extended the feast to the universal Church. He is rightly called “Don Bosco’s Pope”. It was due to him that Dominic Savio’s Cause overcame what appeared to be insuperable difficulties. On the 9th July he signed the decree of heroic virtue. On 11th May 1936 he proclaimed the heroic virtue of Saint Mary Mazzarello, beatified on 20th November 1938. Other signs of special regard for the Salesian Society were the granting of the precious Indulgence sanctifying work (1922) and the elevation to the Cardinalate of Cardinal Hlond (1927).

Saints of the day: Timothy and Titus

The following comes from the American Catholic site:

What we know from the New Testament of Timothy’s life makes it sound like that of a modern harried bishop. He had the honor of being a fellow apostle with Paul, both sharing the privilege of preaching the gospel and suffering for it.
Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. Being the product of a “mixed” marriage, he was considered illegitimate by the Jews. It was his grandmother, Lois, who first became Christian. Timothy was a convert of Paul around the year 47 and later joined him in his apostolic work. He was with Paul at the founding of the Church in Corinth. During the 15 years he worked with Paul, he became one of his most faithful and trusted friends. He was sent on difficult missions by Paul—often in the face of great disturbance in local Churches which Paul had founded.

Timothy was with Paul in Rome during the latter’s house arrest. At some period Timothy himself was in prison (Hebrews 13:23). Paul installed him as his representative at the Church of Ephesus.

Timothy was comparatively young for the work he was doing. (“Let no one have contempt for your youth,” Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:12a.) Several references seem to indicate that he was timid. And one of Paul’s most frequently quoted lines was addressed to him: “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23).

Titus (d. 94?): Titus has the distinction of being a close friend and disciple of Paul as well as a fellow missionary. He was Greek, apparently from Antioch. Even though Titus was a Gentile, Paul would not let him be forced to undergo circumcision at Jerusalem. Titus is seen as a peacemaker, administrator, great friend. Paul’s second letter to Corinth affords an insight into the depth of his friendship with Titus, and the great fellowship they had in preaching the gospel: “When I went to Troas...I had no relief in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.... For even when we came into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way—external conflicts, internal fears. But God, who encourages the downcast, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus...” (2 Corinthians 2:12a, 13; 7:5-6).

When Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of Paul’s severe letter and was successful in smoothing things out. Paul writes he was strengthened not only by the arrival of Titus but also “by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in regard to you, as he told us of your yearning, your lament, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.... And his heart goes out to you all the more, as he remembers the obedience of all of you, when you received him with fear and trembling” (2 Corinthians 7:7a, 15).

The Letter to Titus addresses him as the administrator of the Christian community on the island of Crete, charged with organizing it, correcting abuses and appointing presbyter-bishops.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Thousand Years by ThePianoGuys

Don Bosco's Popes: Benedict XV

The following comes from SDB.org:

James Della Chiesa was born on 21st November 1854 in Genova. He was elected Pope on 3rd September 1914. He died on 22nd January 1922. On 6th December 1915 he invested Bishop Cagliero in the purple that would make him the first Salesian Cardinal.

The Conversion of St. Paul

The following comes from the American Catholic site:

Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, who was only a few years older. But he had acquired a zealot’s hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church:

“...entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment” (Acts 8:3b). Now he himself was “entered,” possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal—being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior.

One sentence determined his theology: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people—the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all he had been blindly pursuing.

From then on, his only work was to “present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me” (Colossians 1:28b-29). “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5a).

Paul’s life became a tireless proclaiming and living out of the message of the cross: Christians die baptismally to sin and are buried with Christ; they are dead to all that is sinful and unredeemed in the world. They are made into a new creation, already sharing Christ’s victory and someday to rise from the dead like him. Through this risen Christ the Father pours out the Spirit on them, making them completely new.

So Paul’s great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Remember When by Alan Jackson

I am in a country mood.

Wise Advice from St. Francis de Sales

This is wise advice from St. Francis de Sales! Thanks to Patrick Madrid for posting this.

"As soon as worldly people see that you wish to follow a devout life they aim a thousand darts of mockery and even detraction at you. The most malicious of them will slander your conversion as hypocrisy, bigotry, and trickery. . . .

"Philothea, all this is mere foolish, empty babbling. These people aren't interested in your health or welfare. 'If you were of the world, the world would love what is its own but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you,; says the Savior. We have seen gentlemen and ladies spend the whole night, even many nights one after another, playing chess or cards. Is there any concentration more absurd, gloomy, or depressing than this last? Yet worldly people don't say a word and the players' friends don't bother their heads about it.

"If we spend an hour in meditation or get up a little earlier than usual in the morning to prepare for Holy Communion, everyone runs for a doctor to cure us of hypochondria and jaundice. People can pass thirty nights in dancing and no one complains about it, but if they watch through a single Christmas night they cough and claim their stomach is upset the next morning. Does anyone fail to see that the world is an unjust judge, gracious and well disposed to its own children but harsh and rigorous towards the children of God?

"We can never please the world unless we lose ourselves together with it. It is so demanding that it can't be satisfied. "John came neither eating nor drinking," says the Savior, and you say, "He has a devil." "The Son of man came eating and drinking" and you say that he is "a Samaritan."

"It is true, Philothea, that if we are ready to laugh, play cards, or dance with the world in order to please it, it will be scandalized at us, and if we don't, it will accuse us of hypocrisy or melancholy. If we dress well, it will attribute it to some plan we have, and if we neglect our dress, it will accuse of us of being cheap and stingy. Good humor will be called frivolity and mortification sullenness. Thus the world looks at us with an evil eye and we can never please it. It exaggerates our imperfections and claims they are sins, turns our venial sins into mortal sins and changes our sins of weakness into sins of malice.

"'Charity is kind,' says Saint Paul, but the world on the contrary is evil. "Charity thinks no evil," but the world always thinks evil and when it can't condemn our acts it will condemn our intentions. Whether the sheep have horns or not and whether they are white or black, the wolf doesn't hesitate to eat them if he can.

"Whatever we do, the world will wage war on us. If we stay a long time in the confessional, it will wonder how we can have so much to say; if we stay only a short time, it will say we haven't told everything. It will watch all our actions and at a single little angry word it will protest that we can't get along with anyone. To take care of our own interests will look like avarice, while meekness will look like folly. As for the children of the world, their anger is called being blunt, their avarice economy, their intimate conversations lawful discussions. Spiders always spoil the good work of the bees.

"Let us give up this blind world, Philothea. Let it cry out at us as long as it pleases, like a cat that cries out to frighten birds in the daytime. Let us be firm in our purposes and unswerving in our resolutions. 

Perseverance will prove whether we have sincerely sacrificed ourselves to God and dedicated ourselves to a devout life. Comets and planets seem to have just about the same light, but comets are merely fiery masses that pass by and after a while disappear, while planets remain perpetually bright. So also hypocrisy and true virtue have a close resemblance in outward appearance but they can be easily distinguished from one another.

"Hypocrisy cannot last long but is quickly dissipated like rising smoke, whereas true virtue is always firm and constant. It is no little assistance for a sure start in devotion if we first suffer criticism and calumny because of it. In this way we escape the danger of pride and vanity, which are comparable to the Egyptian midwives whom a cruel Pharaoh had ordered to kill the Israelites' male children on the very day of their birth. We are crucified to the world and the world must be crucified to us. The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad."

Saint Frances de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

How reading St. Francis de Sales has made me a better priest

The following comes from the New Theological Movement site:

“Introduction to the Devout Life”, the spiritual classic in which St. Francis de Sales sets forth the life of devotion not so much for the consecrated religious or cleric but for the laity, is surely the most popular work of the Doctor of the Catholic Press. This is one of those very few books worth reading two hundred times and more. It serves as a trustworthy guide to sanctity.
Since my ordination to the priesthood (three and a half years ago), this little “Introduction” for lay people has had an immeasurable impact on my own approach to moral and spiritual theology – reading St. Francis de Sales has made me a better priest.

Personal holiness and virtue
“Introduction to the Devout Life” is divided into five parts:
1. Advice and practices to begin the life of devotion
2. On prayer
3. On the practice of the virtues
4. Counsels regarding certain ordinary temptations
5. Practices to renew and confirm the soul in devotion
St. Francis de Sales is most helpful to those who strive to practice regular and methodical mental prayer. If a true interior life is to be nurtured in the soul, some method of prayer is necessary (especially in those souls which have not reached the perfection of the unitive way). That method advocated in the “Introduction” is simple, easily employed, and filled with much wealth.
The Bishop of Geneva recommends the following:
Each period of prayer should contain a preparation, a consideration, affections and resolutions, and a conclusion. This method is outlined in detail in Book II, chapters two through seven.
What has been particularly helpful to me is the emphasis which St. Francis places upon affectations and resolutions. He teaches that, as the point of prayer is to increase love in the soul (by which love, the soul is truly united to God), affective movements of the will are to be encouraged above intellectual reflections. Although the understanding must necessarily call the mysteries of the faith to mind and propose them to the will, nevertheless the highest movements of prayer are certainly those acts of love which proceed from the will.
Additionally, St. Francis de Sales teaches that it is important to always finish one’s prayer with some resolution to grow in virtue or avoid vice – and this is the practical Catholicism which is so greatly needed in our own day, and especially in diocesan priestly ministry.
His treatises on the virtues and on temptations have been most helpful to me as well – especially the chapters on true friendship (part III, chapter 19 [here]) and on the pleasures which come with temptations (part IV, chapter 6 [here]).
Priestly ministry: Preaching
The classical work of St. Francis de Sales has been especially helpful in my priestly ministry as preacher, confessor, and spiritual director. I will limit myself to only a very few of the many points in which “Introduction” has made me a better priest.
St. Francis’ use of metaphor has instructed me a great deal in terms of the methodology and style of preaching. From “Introduction”, I have found a real love for the use of metaphor and analogy in preaching.
While St. Francis’ own favorite metaphors involved bees, I will highlight two others which I myself have used in sermons.
De Sales makes a comparison between the people of Israel who, thinking it was too difficult, turned back and refused to enter the Promised Land (cf. Numbers 14) and those worldly persons who think the devout life to be difficult and wholly devoid of all delight. This metaphor is found in part I, chapter two [here], and I myself have used it for Ash Wednesday sermons on multiple occasions.
In another place, St. Francis speaks of a popular myth according to which any word which is carved upon an almond-seed will then be impressed upon all the fruit of that tree. He states that he does not look primarily to exterior but rather to interior mortifications to truly purify the soul – and thus he wishes that his motto “Live, Jesus!” would be impressed upon the almond-seed of our heart. (cf. part III, chapter 23 [here])
I have not only used these and many other metaphors in preaching and lectures, but my own style and use of analogy in general has been formed by that of the Doctor of the Catholic Press.
Priestly ministry: Confession
It is obvious enough that St. Francis’ discussion of virtue and vice as well as his counsel regarding various temptations would be most helpful to the confessor. In particular, I have often referred to his treatment of rash judgment (part III, chapter 28 [here]) and anger (part III, chapters 8 [here] and 9 [here]).
Further, his outline for spiritual practices to renew and foster devotion (the whole of part V) is extremely helpful in giving counsel to penitents who desire to move forward in the interior life.
In truth, I freely recommend “Introduction to the Devout Life” to many penitents as I believe that this book can easily be read and understood by most every soul who is formed in the basic catechetics of the faith. This book can serve as a quasi “spiritual director” for those who regularly frequent confession – as they will be able to ask their confessor for advice regarding the application of certain passages to their own lives.
Priestly ministry: Spiritual direction
St. Francis de Sales began to write the “Introduction” as a spiritual resource for those who had been entrusted to him in spiritual direction. Throughout the work, he addresses himself to a certain “Philothea” which is name meaning “Lover of God” and is meant to include any and every Christian soul.
While the original “Philothea” for whom “Introduction” was begun was a certain Madame de Charmoisy, St. Francis’ most well known spiritual daughter is St. Jane Frances de Chantal. Among the many others, we might add that he also served as the spiritual father of his own very dear little sister, Jeanne.
In his own preface to the work [here], the Bishop of Geneva insists that every pastor (specifically, every Bishop) is obligated to take time and energy for the direction of individual souls. I have presented this in an earlier post [here] – without repeating the argument, I will simply mention that St. Francis has led me to be far more open to the direction of individual souls than I would have previously been.
On another level, I almost always will use “Introduction” within the context of direction as a major point of spiritual reading– usually extending two or three months of study (and I am very happy to take even more time). Discussion of “Introduction” is then the basis for at least some portion of each direction meeting. This is one of those books which ought nearly to be memorized, and I know of some who know the spiritual classic in the greatest detail.
“Introduction to the Devout Life” is a truly great book. Learning to love this work will confirm the soul in love of devotion.
If you have not yet read the classic of St. Francis de Sales with great care and attention – moreover, if you have not yet learnt to truly love this work – I would encourage you to set aside everything and anything else you are currently reading (with the exception of Sacred Scripture) and pick up this book. Read it slowly, for a book so rich deserves careful and extended consideration – no rush-job will suffice.
If you already love the “Introduction”, blessed are you indeed! Thank God for having brought you to this classic. Read it often. The Lord has given you a great grace. Thank him fervently for this blessing, and also remember often to be grateful for whomever it was that first taught you to love St. Francis de Sales.

St. Francis de Sales, Pray for us!

Saint of the Day: Francis de Sales, Patron of Church Unity

The following comes from the CNA:

On Jan. 24, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that runs from Jan. 18-25, Catholics will celebrate the life of St. Francis de Sales. A bishop and Doctor of the Church, his preaching brought thousands of Protestants back to the Catholic fold, and his writings on the spiritual life have proved highly influential.

The paradoxical circumstances of Francis' birth, in the Savoy region (now part of France) during 1567,  sum up several contradictory tendencies of the Church during his lifetime. The reforms of the Council of Trent had purified the Church in important ways, yet Catholics and Protestants still struggled against one another – and against the temptations of wealth and worldly power.

Francis de Sales, a diplomat's son, was born into aristocratic wealth and privilege. Yet he was born in a room that his family named the “St. Francis room” – where there hung a painting of that saint, renowned for his poverty, preaching in the wilderness. In later years, Francis de Sales would embrace poverty also; but early in his ministry, the faithful chided him for having an aristocratic manner.

In many ways, Francis' greatest achievements – such as the “Introduction to the Devout Life,” an innovative spiritual guidebook for laypersons, or his strong emphasis on the role of human love in Christian devotion – represent successful attempts to re-integrate seemingly disparate “worldly” and “spiritual” realities into one coherent vision of life.

Few people, however, would have predicted these achievements for Francis during his earlier years. As a young man, he studied rhetoric, the humanities, and law. He had his law degree by age 25, and was headed for a political career. All the while, he was keeping the depths of his spiritual life – such as his profound devotion to the Virgin Mary, and his resolution of religious celibacy – a secret from the world.
Eventually, however, the truth came out, and Francis clashed with his father, who had arranged a marriage for him. The Bishop of Geneva intervened on Francis' behalf, finding him a position in the administration of the Swiss Church that led to his priestly ordination in 1593. He volunteered to lead a mission to bring Switzerland, dominated by Calvinist Protestantism, back to the Catholic faith.

Taking on a seemingly impossible task, with only one companion – his cousin – the new priest adopted a harsh but hopeful motto: “Apostles battle by their sufferings, and triumph only in death." It would serve him well as he traveled through Switzerland, facing many Protestants' indifference or hostility, and being attacked by wild animals and even would-be assassins.

Some of Francis' hearers –even, for a time, John Calvin's protege Theodore Beza– found themselves captivated by the thoughtful, eloquent and joyful manner of the priest who implored their reunion with the Church. But he had more success when he began writing out these sermons and exhortations, slipping them beneath the doors that had been closed against him.

This pioneering use of religious tracts proved surprisingly effective at breaking down the resistance of the Swiss Calvinists, and it is estimated that between 40,000 and 70,000 of them returned to the Church through his efforts. He also served as a spiritual director, both in person and through written correspondence, with the latter format inspiring the “Introduction to the Devout Life.” 

In 1602, Francis was chosen to become the Bishop of Geneva, a position he did not seek or desire. Accepting the position, however, he gave the last twenty years of his life in ongoing sacrifice, for the restoration of Geneva's churches and religious orders. He also helped one of his spiritual directees, the widow and future saint Jane Frances de Chantal, to found an order with a group of women.

Worn out by nearly thirty years of arduous travel and other burdens of Church leadership, Francis fell ill in 1622 while visiting one of a convent he had helped to found in Lyons. He died there, three days after Christmas that year. St. Francis de Sales was canonized in 1665, and honored as a Doctor of the Church in 1877.

Because of the crucial role of writing in his apostolate, St. Francis de Sales is the patron of writers and journalists. He is also widely credited with restoring, during his own day, a sense of what the Second Vatican Council would later call the “universal call to holiness” – that is, the notion that all people, not only those in formal religious life, are called to the heights of Christian sanctification.

Friday, January 23, 2015

This is Country Music by Brad Paisley

St. Francis de Sales on the Beauty of Devotion

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:

In order to be devout, not only must we want to do the will of God, we must do it joyfully. If I were not a bishop, yet knew what I know, I would not want to be one. But being one, not only am I obliged to do what this annoying office requires, but I must do it joyfully, and I must take delight in it and accept it. To do so is to follow St. Paul’s saying, “in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God” (1 Cor. 7:24).
We must carry not the crosses of others, but our own. And this means that each of us must “deny himself” (Matt. 16:24), that is to say, to deny his own will. “I want to do this; I would be better there than here”: we are tempted by such thoughts. Our Lord knows what he is about. Let us do his will and remain where he has placed us.
Not only should you be devout and love the devout life, but you should be making that life beautiful to behold.
Now, it will be beautiful to the extent to which it is use­ful and agreeable to others. The sick will love your piety if it causes them to be charitably consoled. Your family will love it if it makes you more solicitous of their good, milder in the face of life’s vicissitudes, and withal more amiable. Your spouse will love it to the extent to which your devotion makes you warmer and more affectionate. If your parents and friends see in you a greater frankness, helpfulness, and readiness to bend to their wills in those things that are not contrary to the will of God, they too will find your life of devotion attractive. And this, as much as possible, should be your aim.

The Imagination in Prayer

It is not possible to pray without employing the imagina­tion and the understanding. Yet it cannot be doubted that we should make use of them only for the sake of moving the will, and then no more. Some say that it is not neces­sary to use the imagination to represent to ourselves the sacred humanity of the Savior. Not, perhaps, for those who are already far advanced on the mountain of perfection. But for those of us who are still in the valleys — though we wish to be climbing — I think it is expedient to make use of all our faculties, including the imagination.
This imagination, however, ought to be quite simple, serving as a sort of needle with which to thread affections and resolutions into our mind. This is the great road, from which we should not take leave until the light of day is a little brighter and we can see the little paths. It is true that these imaginings should not be tangled up in too many particularities, but should be simple. Let us remain a while longer in the low valleys.

The Peace of God

Strive to remain in that peace and tranquillity that our Lord has given you. “The peace of God,” says St. Paul, “which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). Do you not see that he says the peace of God “passes all understanding”? That is to teach you that you should never trouble your­self to have any sentiment other than that of the peace of God. Now, the peace of God is the peace that proves the resolutions we have taken for God and the path that God has ordained for us. Walk firmly in the way in which the providence of God has placed you, without looking either to the right or to the left.
That is the way of perfection for you. This satisfaction of spirit — even if it be without savor — is worth more than a thousand delightful conso­lations. If God intends you to face some difficulties, you must receive them from his hand — the hand you have taken hold of — and you must not let go of him until he has brought you to the point of your perfection. You will see that God’s providence will accomplish all things ac­cording to your intentions, provided they be entirely in conformity with his. What is needed of you is a courage that is a little more vigorous and resolute.

The Presence of God

To remain in the presence of God and to place oneself in the presence of God are two different things. To place our­selves in his presence, we must withdraw our souls from all other objects and make ourselves attentive to his presence. After we have placed ourselves in his presence, we can keep ourselves there by the action of our will or intellect: by either looking upon God, or looking upon something else for the love of him, or not looking at anything but instead speaking to him, or neither looking at him nor speaking to him but simply remaining where he has placed us, like a statue in its niche. And when, to this simple act of remaining there is joined some sentiment that we be­long to God and that he is our all, then we ought to give earnest thanks for his goodness.

Don Bosco's Popes: Leo XIII

The following comes from the SDB.org site:

Vincenzo Gioachino Pecci was born in Carpineto (Frosinone) on the 2nd March 1810. He was elected Pope on the 20th February. 1878. He died on 20th July 1903.St. John Bosco had his first private audience with Leo XIII on 16th March 1878; the Pontiff agreed to become the first Salesian Cooperator. He always dealt warmly with the Saint, somewhat unusual for this Pope who was rather serious and reserved. It was due to the Pope that in 1884 the Salesian Society was granted all the privileges that the Redemptorists already had but which were usually granted only after many years of deserving work. These privileges, however, were absolutely necessary for Don Bosco’s Congregation as it rapidly, even prodigiously took shape. He erected the first Vicariate Apostolic entrusted to the Salesians, nominating the first bishop in the person of Bishop Cagliero (30th October 1883). In the first audience given to Don Rua (1888), he offered his belief that Don Bosco was a saint; he gave much advice to help consolidate the Society.