Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Live Today Well, Chapter 1
St. Francis de Sales's feast day was yesterday. I had finished the novena and was all aglow. I stopped off at Confession on my way home from work, and *in the confessional* the priest talked about St. Francis de Sales and his message. I mean, seriously. Like Barb tweeted to me last week, I feel like I'm being stalked by a saint. :0 There's a definite St. Francis de Sales vibe to our year, for sure. And let me tell you, I NEED IT. More on that later on in the post.
All right, so chapter 1. I thought the way we would do each chapter discussion is for me to provide a short general overview. Then I simply will pull out some passages that really resonated with me, and subsequently reflect on why those lines spoke to me. You can also comment on those passages, or others that resonated with you that I did not mention. Let's get started!
Chapter 1, "The Devout Life," is devoted to a brief biography of St. Francis de Sales, and one of his spiritual proteges, St. Jane de Chantal. Many years ago, I read Introduction to the Devout Life, so I knew that St. Francis's overall philosophy is that holiness is possible in all walks of life; specifically, he was referring to laypeople. That was somewhat unusual in St. Francis's time!
I also loved learning that youngster St. Francis excelled in a liberal arts curriculum at the university level, and took classes in such things as horsemanship, fencing and dancing. :0 A kindred dancing spirit! No wonder I like him so much.
Our first quote:
"...he came to understand that a devout life can be lived in and through our normal routines and responsibilities. But even there, or especially so, it became clear to him that 'Christian life required strategy. A Christian should live in the world without being of the world, and to do this required art.'"
I just love this guy! I think we can all relate to having mundane things to do in our day. Things, frankly, that we do not feel like doing. These things though, are very much part of our quest to be devout.
"Put simply: living today well means fulfilling life's responsibilities, no matter what they are, in a way that strives for good in response to God's grace. We live this good life carefully when we do what we do with intentionality, rather than by accident or out of mere routine."
Insert a heart here. I LOVE this way of looking at our everyday lives. I have some intense stuff coming up at work, stuff that I really don't want to do. But thinking about this view of intentionality puts things into a much more positive perspective for me.
St. Francis also loved preaching, and not always in the traditional sense. His printed pamphlets are the reason he is the patron of writers and journalists, and this really speaks to my Dominican heart!
"...do all through love, and nothing by force."
Additionally, I relate quite well to his thoughts on spiritual failures of the repeated variety:
"The key to growth in holiness, he would constantly teach, is always to begin again, to keep moving forward, confident that the good Lord will provide."
I could spend an entire dissertation just on this sentence alone. Confession anyone? I mean, ugh! I feel like I'm confessing the exact same things every time I go! Can I *never* do any better?! But the key is to keep trying.
"Thus, to 'be who you are and be that well' means to recognize and respond to the moments of grace and the opportunities for charity that are presented to us each and every day."
Chapter 2, "Francis's Spiritual Directory" will present us with a guide to live these everyday moments well.
Reading this book has already helped me. I'm finding myself thinking before leaping to impatience or frustration, sort of a "What Would St. Francis Do?!" kind of scenario. ;-) And it's helping, it really is. Difficult things that have come up in the past week, at work and at home with the kids, I've been able to deal with in a much healthier way than in the past. I'm really hoping this continues.
What were the highlights of chapter 1 for *you*? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!