Open/Close Menu Resources for Joyful Living Inspired by Saints Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal

“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!

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