Browsing The Seed

The Devout Life

I wrote this week’s article on the feast of St. Francis de Sales (January 24th), who is one of my all-time favorite saints. I’m not sure when he and I became acquainted, but I have been drawn to his spirituality and approach to Christian holiness for some time now. St. Francis de Sales was born in the second have of the 16th century, and became a priest, and eventually, bishop, serving the Church in Switzerland. St. Francis is affectionately known as “the Gentleman Saint” because of his compassionate and gentle approach to guiding souls in the way of Christian perfection. For St. Francis, the way of perfection is not only priests and nuns, but one on which every Christian is called to make progress and, by the grace of God, each is capable of reaching that goal. This is very much the thought of the Church: 

Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history” (Lumen Gentium, n. 40). 

What this looks like in practice differs according to the state in life, and in the Church, to which God has called each of us, but regardless the way of perfection and the life of holiness must be practiced by each one of us if we are going to become saints. We can be decent without Christ, but we cannot be holy without Him or His Church, and Christians are called to holiness, not simply to mere decency.

Inspired by the example of St. Francis de Sales, we must each discern how God is calling us to live this life of holiness and perfection, and place our trust firmly and confidently in Him, that He will accomplish this goal us to the extent that we open our lives to Him, and make of ourselves a humble and spiritual sacrifice of worship and love. Do not leave holiness to those “who have time for it” or who are “into that type of thing”; make time for becoming holy, make it “your thing”, your own personal goal, and desire daily to become the saint you are called to be through a devout life. May God bless you in the week ahead and may Mother Mary lead you more deeply into the Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus.

In Christ,
Fr. Hess


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