“Let us be what we are, and be that well, so that we may bring honor to the Master Craftsman whose handiwork we are. People laughed at the painter who, intending to paint a horse, came up with a perfect bull; the work was handsome in itself, but not much credit to the artist who had other plans and succeeded in this one only by chance.”
–St. Francis de Sales in a letter to Madame Brulart, June 10, 1605
Quoted in Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal:Letters of Spiritual Direction
(Peronne Marie Thibert, VHM trans.), New York: Paulist Press, 1988, p. 111
Let’s say you had a beloved horse who had died, and you asked a painter to do a painting for over your fireplace, and the artist came up with the picture of a bull. Or perhaps you grew up with a favorite black and white dog your family had named “Pepper.” You had photographs to give to a commissioned artist for a portrait, but the portrait that came back to you was of a large scale pepper shaker with the matching salt shaker in the background. A bit ridiculous, don’t you think?
But how often have we wanted to be someone else who looked more handsome we thought, or played the guitar so well, or was tall enough and coordinated enough to dunk the basketball, or smart enough to ace every test. Wouldn’t our energy and plans and practice be focused more on what we are and what we can become. And of course, we don’t even have the potential to be someone else (or a poor imitation of them), let alone be angels. But we do have the potential to be a good person, don’t we? Everyday: How can I be a good person today? How can I be my best self? If everyday we were all good men and women, how different the world might be!
Francis de Sales & Jane de Chantal
From the Saints by Our Side Series
By Wendy Wright
The story of the extraordinary spiritual friendship between Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal is recounted in this welcome addition to the Saints by Our Side series from Pauline Press.
Francis de Sales (1567–1622) was a priest, bishop, founder of Salesian spirituality, and a renowned spiritual director. Jane de Chantal (1572–1641) was a wife, a mother, a nun, and the founder of a religious community.
Though they were people with very different life experiences and circumstances, the friendship that developed between
Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal shows how the lives and holiness of these two saints are interconnected, and their story demonstrates how they lived this spiritual friendship and how it helped each of them achieve great things.
Author Wendy M. Wright is a well-known expert in the lives of these two saints who captures the heart and imagination by employing her vivid storytelling skills, using excerpts from their correspondence, and contextualizing elements of the mid-fifteenth to mid-sixteenth centuries for readers’ greater understanding and enjoyment.
Features reflection questions, a chronology of important dates, and a Salesian prayer.
Special Price through March 1st! $9.95Buy Here!
Enjoy this short brochure developed for Embraced by God by Fr. John Graden called A to Z with St. Francis de Sales.
This piece offers three of Francis’ quotes for each letter of the alphabet in an easy to read format. On the back of the brochure we give permission for the reader to copy and distribute far and wide with no further permissions needed.
There are a number of ways to share this wisdom of St. Francis: digitally or in hard copy with members of your communities; for use with small groups or in classroom settings; in your parish; as a special insert in a gift or card; in any creative way you can come up with!
We are providing you with the PDF to be used digitally, for copying or printing in large quantities (8 1/2 x 14 paper size.)
We hope that this small gift from Embraced by God is one that will help all of us share our Salesian charism.
A to Z PDF Can be Downloaded here
The new Direction of Intention Card
The Bible tells us to :
Pray always and not to lose heart (Lk 18:1)
Pray in the Spirit at all times (Eph 6:18)
Devote yourselves to prayer (Col 4:2)
Persevere in prayer (Rom 12:12)
Pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:18)
How can we do that?
In the Salesian Family, we have learned to make everything we do a prayer by offering each moment to God in union with Jesus who offers himself to
The Oblates call this “The Direction of Intention,” and the idea comes from St. Francis de Sales.
In the business-sized card we have designed, one side provides an “Offer Each Moment” prayer, and the other side, a prayer for ourselves and anyone we are encountering today. (Louis Brisson reminds us to pray for our students.)
100 cards for $3.50 (100 min.) + P&H or
1,000 cards for $30.00 + P&H.
Email your request to resources@EmbracedbyGod.org
Share the card with everyone…in Christmas cards, in classes, with the whole school or parish, or use with a presentation on making our whole lives a prayer.
Continually discovering the roots of self-centered behavior shouldn’t be a surprise. New shoots spring up all the time, even if it seems that we’ve cut them back to the ground. We can possibly change the self-centeredness within us, but it never really dies. It has the persistence of weeds which can appear even where and when we don’t want them.
To progress in love we must temper our self-centeredness with daily practices attempting other-centeredness: behaviors like paying attention to someone, giving some time, noticing, affirming, being thoughtful, helping, anticipating needs, serving in some little ways. Basically making habits out of other-centered behaviors. This is training in love, dying a little to the self. It is not rocket science at all. But is nonetheless quite difficult.
At the same time we can try to tame some of the interior mental self-centeredness, by not allowing every thought and desire to control us. This is a very personal thing. You might know best what appetites or impulses control you instead of you controlling them. It might be food, sex, alcohol or drugs, bluntness of expression, interrupting others, judging others, comparing yourself to others for better or worse, etc., etc., etc..
Some of this you might consider to be what Dr. David Amen calls Automatic Negative ThoughtS (ANTS) and figure out what skills you need to develop to be a good “ant EATER.” I suggest laughing (even out loud, maybe) at your self-centered foolishness, and pray “Lord have mercy on such as me. It’s a really good thing that you love me so much,”
Most of all though we need to be patient. Each of us is a work in progress. In reality, we know that we are foolish and delusional to think that we can, or already have, totally detached ourselves from self-centered love. It’s not even a goal, quite honestly, because it would be totally unrealistic. Little steps in loving, that’s what we can hope and strive for.
“It is not possible to empty ourselves completely of ourselves.
While we are here below, and until such time that God bears us up to heaven, we must always bear with ourselves….
So we must be patient and not think we can overcome in a day all the bad habits we have acquired through the poor care we have taken of our spiritual health.” –Francis de Sales
At the urging of two friends, I have taken the topics that I had developed for a retreat, and
turned into my first book, Letting Go, Hanging On: A Guide for the Spiritual Journey,
published by Paulist Press and released just this month.
I had called the retreat ATTACHED, and it started when I reflected on the triple bypass
surgery I had in 2007. Once the doctors opened me up, they had to spend the first two hours
detaching all the lesions of radiation scar tissue that had accrued since my lung cancer surgery
and radiation treatments in 1999. My heart was literally attached to everything around it and
was pulling on everything as it tried to keep beating faithfully.
That got me thinking about how exhausted our “hearts” can become by being attached to all kinds
of things in our spiritual life; things like Egocentricity; Self-concept; God concept;
Successes and Failures, and the Need to be Right; Relationships and Hurts;
Sexual Concepts, experiences and Shame; Concepts and Practices of Prayer;
Our Past and our Future; and yes, we can be attached to “stuff” as well.
On the other hand, there are things we have to hang on to in order to survive and be healthy.
Think of standing on a moving bus in traffic. You better hang on.
But then you also have to know when to let go, so you can get off at your destination, or to transfer
to another bus. These thoughts about letting go and hanging on are the development of my new book.
World Library Publications, one of Bro. Mickey’s publishers, has won awards at this year’s Illumination Book Awards. Under the category of devotional books, Go To Joseph by Mickey won a bronze medal. Of the 2015 Enduring Light Awards, World Library took the GOLD MEDAL with Mickey’s Saved by Beauty. Congratulations Mickey! Embraced by God is privileged to be able to distribute your work!
This thought can be both consoling and thought provoking.
What is it that I really love? Focus on? Desire? Spend time with?
I can’t help but becoming influenced and take on the qualities, values,
characteristics of what I really love. God. Self-absorption. Nature. Lust.
Stuff. Violence. Peace. Calm. Noise. Another person. Jesus.
So how am I becoming more like what I really love? And is this what I really want?
“Since your situation requires that you strenuously row on the stormy seas of this world, you must try never to swallow its water, but drink rather of the streams of God’s grace, in all your thirsts turning to that Divine source of living water with the loving trust of a child for its Mother or Father.”
–A letter of Saint Jane de Chantal to her son Celse-Benigne, in 1626, quoted in
Selected Letters of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal. (Sr. Teresa Teeling, VHM trans.) London, R and T: Washbourne, LTF, 1918, p.166. Adapted by John Graden, OSFS.
This world that God loves so much as to give his only Son Jesus for its salvation is full of tempting waters from which to drink to quench our thirsts; thirsts for recognition, affection, dignity, and happiness, love. That last one is probably the most basic: the thirst for love. But as we know, we can easily look for love in all the wrong places.
On the salt water sea, we probably know that we can’t drink the water we are sailing over no matter how thirsty we get, because its salt content would dehydrate us rather than quench our thirst. But we seem not as smart about the waters of this world. Ask yourself,
“What waters am I tempted to drink from when I’m dyin’ of thirst? Am I choosing the right source for life?”
When we allow our human heart to be surrounded by God’s heart, we find joy and hope in the nooks and crannies of each moment and God present in every wrinkle of our day. This awesome love that God has for us is a touchstone of Salesian Spirituality, a spirituality for everyday people living everyday lives through the teachings of Saints Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal.
Sometimes it is hard to believe that God loves us without condition. After all, we are not all lovable and no one of us is lovable all of the time. But we can be thankful that God’s love does not depend upon us. It is simply in God’s nature to love us. God’s love knows no bounds!
What does this unconditional love for us mean? Are we to simply wallow in it for ourselves? We know that is not God’s intention as we are commanded to “love one another as I have loved you.” Francis de Sales tells us, “We will not often have the opportunity to do great things, but every day, we will have the opportunity to do little things with great love.”
DeSales believed every person is beloved by God and called to be holy, and that living out this holiness is found in how we love. He tells us “Be who you are and be that well so that you can bring honor to the Great Artist whose handiwork you are.”
A friend of mine is a Sister who taught young children for many years. She tells the story of one little guy in her first grade class who was the bane of her existence that year. He couldn’t sit still for two minutes. She remembers walking up to him and placing her hands on either side of his face and saying with great frustration, “What am I going to do with you?” His eyes got big as saucers as he said to her, “Sister, no one has ever loved my face before.”
The way we touch people, with our words, with our physical touch, with our careful expectation truly makes a difference. We do not have the benefit of God’s ability to love unconditionally. We are human and affected by the world we live in, but if we open ourselves to accept God’s unconditional love for us, to believe that we are truly God’s beloved, then we can be the presence of truth and joy for one another. As God’s beloved, we too can become the lover.