Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Feast of St. Francis de Sales

Icon written by N. Allen
Last Tuesday, January 24, was the feast day of St. Francis de Sales – in the Novus Ordo calendar. This saint’s feast is today, January 29 in ,the “old” calendar.

In my Roman Martyrology (trans. by Rev. Raphael Collins, Newman Press, 1952), it says, for January 29:

St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, confessor and doctor of the Church, special patron before God of all Catholic writers in explaining, promoting, or defending Christian doctrine either  by publishing journals of other writings in the vernacular. He departed to heaven on the 28th of December, but because of the transfer of his body on this day, his feast is now celebrated…

St. Francis de Sales is important to me personally for several reasons. For one thing, he is the patron saint of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City, Oregon, in which city I have lived for the past ten years. We moved to Baker City a few months before my first anniversary as a Catholic, and I was thrilled to be attending Mass at the small but majestic-looking Cathedral. I was a little disappointed that it was not St. Francis of Assisi for whom the church was named, because I knew who he was. I didn’t have a clue as to the story of this de Sales guy.

But I learned. And I was delighted to find that St. Francis de Sales was the patron saint of Catholic writers. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and when I was a little girl who wanted to be “just a housewife”, my teachers coached me to say that I wanted to be “an author” when I grew up. This seemed a good option to me even at the time, because I knew I didn’t want to have a job outside the home; my motivation was not all that traditional, though – I just was very shy and didn’t want to deal with people! Writing at home seemed the perfect “career”, because I could assure myself that I wouldn’t have to go out into the scary world, and I could assure my teachers that I had a career goal.

I never did earn a living at writing, but I did earn a few dollars with some articles that were published by Homiletic and Pastoral Review.  I also “edited” the parish bulletin for several years, and thought of St. Francis de Sales watching over my shoulder when I worked on it. I used to add little quotes from his writings to cultivate our identity as St. Francis de Sales Cathedral parish.

St. Francis de Sales is also the patron saint of the Diocese of Baker, and that’s been even more important to me since I started this blog than it was before.  I started the blog for a couple of reasons, but one was that there was just too much going on in the Church in general and in our diocese in particular to justify my sitting on the sidelines any longer. I felt that there were things that needed to be said, and that a blog would be the way to say them.  And so, I began. I began with a prayer to St. Francis de Sales, and I beg his assistance and guidance on a daily basis (at least!).

St. Francis de Sales also influenced my choice of the title for my blog. Having read his Introduction to the Devout Life”, I knew that he had addressed that treatise to “Philothea”. That’s why I have written in the banner section at the top of this blog:

 "You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".

And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."

I’m a Philothea, you’re a Philothea, all God’s children can be Philotheas!

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