December

December 1
Thus does God speak, "For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God..." [Ex 20:5] Yes, God is jealous, but what kind of jealousy is His? He desire that we be His with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind and our whole strength. For this reason He calls Himself our Spouse and our souls His spouses and deems every kind of estrangement from Him to be fornication and adultery. This great God, Who is uniquely good, is correct in desiring our whole heart. Ours is only a little heart, and it cannot sufficiently return the love due to the Divine Goodness...However, God does not love us out of self-interest but for our good. Our love is useless to Him, but it brings us great profit! If it pleases Him, it is because it is profitable to us. (T.L.G. Book 10, Ch. 13; O. V. p. 209) 

December 2
The presence of venial sins does not actually deprive charity of its strength, but only keeps it bound as if it were a slave...giving us a love for creatures that deprives us of a closer communication with God. In a word, this attachment to venial sin makes us lose interior help and assistance which are the vital life-blood of the soul. Lack of this produces a certain paralysis that eventually leads to mortal sin. (T.L.G. Book 4, Ch. 2; O. IV, pp. 220-221) 

December 3
We must hold ourselves ready, not to leave this world before the fixed hour, but to await with the greatest possible calm the hour of our departure. For this reason I think you will find it very helpful if you put aside an hour every day in the presence of God and your guardian angel to make a good reflection on death. If you knew that this were coming soon, how you would put your affairs in order! I know quite well that such thoughts are not new for you, but your must ponder them more deeply in a new way and in the presence of God. Do so with a peaceful effort to move your will more than enlighten your intellect. (Letters 230; O. XII, p. 33) 

December 4
The heart of God is so abundant in love and its goodness is so infinite that all can possess it, without anyone's share diminishing. Infinite Goodness cannot be exhausted, even if it fills all the souls in the world. God does not pour a smaller quantity of His love into a soul because He pours out His love into an infinity of others; the power of His love is not diminished by the multitude of rays that He spreads abroad, but remain ever overflowing with its immensity. (T.L.G. Book 4; Ch. 14; O. V, p. 215) 

December 5
When a diamond is nearby, it hinders the attraction by which iron is drawn to a magnet. It does this without taking away iron's magnetic properties, since the magnet acts as soon as the obstacle is removed. Similarly, the presence of venial sins does not actually deprive charity of its strength and power to act, yet in a certain way it weakens it and deprives it of its activity. Hence charity remains inactive, sterile and unproductive...With venial sin we concede more than is proper to a creature; we busy ourselves more than we should with things of earth, yet for all that we do not forsake the things of Heaven. (T.L.G. Book 4, Ch. 2; O. IV, p. 219) 

December 6
Bees make delicious honey, and it is their most valuable product. For all that, the wax that they also make has its own value and renders their work laudable. A loving heart ought to strive most fervently to produce works of high value so that it may powerfully increase its own charity; still, if it sometimes produces some works of lesser value, it will not lose its reward. God will be pleased with them; that is, because of them He will always love that heart a little more. God never loves a soul without increasing that soul's love for Him, since our love for Him is the proper and particular effect of His love for us. (T.L.G. Book 3, Ch. 2; O. IV, p. 172)

December 7
I would like to talk to you about Saint Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, whose feast we are about to celebrate...We should have a particular veneration for him because he was the spiritual father of Saint Augustine. He was a lovable man, full of charity and zeal for the glory of God, and a vigilant pastor; in a word, a man enriched with every virtue, very careful in carrying out all his priestly duties...Although gentle and forgiving by nature, all the same he did not fail to show firmness in correcting and punishing those who were guilty (e.g., the emperor Theodosius), without letting himself be deterred by other considerations. A man of God is recognized by his works. (Sermons 38; O. IX, p. 145) 

December 8
The most holy virgin enjoyed the greatest privilege of all pure creatures and was to be, from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception, always completely obedient to the will of God. Never for a moment did she waver or fail to keep her resolution to serve the Divine Majesty perfectly. But we--poor creatures that we are--are so wavering in our resolutions! Who among us can say that he or she is always steadfast? Now we want one thing, and in a short time something else, and so we change our affections from one moment to the next. (Sermons 26; O. IX, p. 232) 

December 9
It can be said that religious perfection is the real pearl of the Gospel; to acquire it one must be prepared to abandon everything in a vastly different manner from that which is required for common Christian perfection. While this latter can be attained simply by observing the commandments of God, for religious perfection it is necessary to keep not only the precepts but also the evangelical counsels, by following secret inspirations and interior promptings. This is done be entering the religious state and renouncing all the vanities of the world and one's own possessions. Everything must be left, without exception, no matter how small that may be. (Sermons 44; O. X, p. 23) 

December 10
"You will show me the path to life," says the psalmist [Ps 16:11], not only because our temporal life depends on the Divine Will, but also because our spiritual life consists in its fulfillment...The rebellious spirit, instead, wants its heart to be full of itself and its will to be above that of God. Eternal God, do not permit this disorder to take root in my soul!"...not my will but yours be done." [Lk 22:41] You alone can give me the grace to have no will but Your own. (T.L.G. Book, Ch. 7; O. V, p. 79) 

December 11
There is no need to doubt that we possess faith in God, simply because we find it difficult to keep clear of sin, or find ourselves diffident or even fearing that we will not be able to resist occasions of temptation. No! Diffidence in our strength of will is not due to lack of resolve but is a true acknowledgement of our misery. The fear of being able to resist temptations is better than considering ourselves strong and secure, because all that we do not expect from our own strength we hope to receive by means of God's grace...We must simply be on our guard and be humble so as not to fall victim to temptation. (Letters 1974; O. XXI, pp. 12-19) 

December 12
The consideration of sins committed is accompanied by a certain horror and consternation which terrifies the soul, so there is need to replace it with confidence in God...It is necessary to fear, but it is likewise necessary to have hope: fear, so as not to become proud; and hope, so as not to become discouraged or despair. Fear and hope should never be separated, because if fear alone is present, then we give way to desperation; and if there is hope without fear, then we have presumption...Yes, we must always unite a confident hope to the fear that arises out of an awareness of our sins. (Sermons 40; O. IX, pp. 443-444) 

December 13
If we have a bit little of the love of God is us, to Him alone should we give honor and glory; He has placed it in us, for without Him we can do nothing. There remains for us the obligation of gratitude. This is the way God works toward us in His goodness; He gives us His benefits and expects only our thanks in return. Since without His grace we are nothing, assuredly we should live in thanksgiving, doing nothing except for His glory. (T.L.G. Book 4, Ch. 6; O. IV, p. 235)

December 14
Tranquility of spirit is one of the most pleasing virtues in the spiritual life; every Christian must try his or her hardest to acquire it. How sweet and pleasant is the consideration of the life of our Savior! In it we see marvelously resplendent this perfect tranquility amid the multiplicity of events that succeeded one another. (Sermons 40; O. IX, p. 445) 

December 15
One of the signs of the genuineness of inspirations, especially extraordinary ones, is peace and tranquility of heart in those who receive them, since the Holy Spirit is indeed powerful, but with a strength that is gentle, mild and peaceful...On the contrary, the evil spirit is turbulent, bitter and restless. Those who follow his hellish suggestions in the belief that they are heavenly inspirations can usually be recognized because they are unsettled, headstrong and haughty. Under the pretext of zeal, they silence everyone and find fault with everything...In the name of zeal for God's honor they indulge in the passion of self-love. (T.L.G. Book 8, Ch. 12; O. V, pp. 100-101)

December 16
Behold the most lovable Jesus, Who is about to be born in our commemoration of the forthcoming feast. He is born to visit us on behalf of the Eternal Father. In return, the shepherds and the kings come to visit Him in His crib. Visit Him as well during this novena; caress Him, make Him welcome in your heart, adore Him frequently; imitate His humility, His poverty, His obedience and His gentleness... (Letters 1582; O. XIX, p. 86) 

December 17
We always want this thing or that thing, and even when we have Jesus Himself in our breast we are not satisfied. Yet He is all that we could possibly desire...At the birth of the Savior the shepherds heard the songs of the heavenly spirits, but Sacred Scripture does not say that they were heard by the Madonna and Saint Joseph, who were closer to the little Babe. Instead, they saw the Divine Child trembling with the cold, His eyes bathed in tears! And what do we prefer--to stay in that dark stable which echoes with the cries of the Babe, or to be outside listening with the shepherds to the angelic choirs? Certainly we should choose the former, because it is better, even in the darkness to stay close to Jesus. (Letters 359; O. XIII, pp. 202-203) 

December 18
May the small yet great Babe of Bethlehem always be the delight of our heart. How beautiful is the poor little Babe! I bed you to take your repose close to Him, because He will not fail to love your heart just as it is, with all its lack of tenderness and of feeling. Do you not see how He receives the breath of the oxen and the ass, which have feeling at all? And how will He not appreciate the operations of your poor heart, which, even though it lacks tenderness, yet throws itself resolutely and firmly at His feet, pledging itself to be always a faithful servant of His divine heart and that of Mary? (Letters 940; O. XVI, pp. 120-121) 

December 19
You will never acquire perfect gentleness and charity if you do not exercise them amid repugnance, aversions and dislikes. True peace does not consist in not fighting, but in winning. Those who are defeated and no longer fight do not possess true peace. Let us humiliate ourselves deeply, seeing that we have so little control over ourselves and love ease and repose so much! The Babe Who is about to be born does not come on earth to have an easy life or to enjoy spiritual and temporal comforts, but to fight, to mortify Himself and to die. (Letters 2001; O. XII, pp. 44-45)

December 20
Ships at sea have a mariner's needle which always points to the north star; although the ship may be headed south, the needle never fails to point north. It sometimes seems that the soul at prayer is going straight south, since it is greatly bothered by distractions; nevertheless, the highest point of the spirit always looks toward God, Who is its north. People who are the most advanced in the spiritual life often have such great temptations, even against faith, that it seems to them that their whole soul consents to these temptations. Yet they still resist at the deepest level of their being. Even though all their other faculties and powers may be filled with distractions, their spirit is praying. (Sermons; O. X, p. 68) 

December 21
Sweet-smelling ointments are not left exposed to the air, because they would begin to lose their fragrance...and so their value. Just souls, afraid to lose the worth and value of their good works, preserve them, not in a common box, but in an alabaster vase such as is used for precious ointments. This alabaster vase is holy humility, within which (as in a golden vessel), we must enclose our virtues and all that would make us esteemed by others, to seek only to please God. Consider St. Joseph. He not only received a very great measure of all the virtues, a reflection of those practiced by the most holy virgin, his wife, but also had a divine treasure, the Infant Jesus, His Lord and Master, Who had been entrusted to him....He was His foster father and the spouse of His mother; yet he kept himself hidden, kept a low profile, so as to appear as an ordinary man. (Spiritual Treatises XIX; O. VI, pp. 363-364)

December 22
How many holy thoughts germinate in our hearts when we consider the birth of the Infant Jesus! We are filled with a holy contempt for material things, for pomp and the amusements of the world. I do not know of any other mystery which so wonderfully unites tenderness with sincerity, love with rigor, gentleness with harshness. Never has a mother been seen who was so poor, yet so happy. She who conceived the Son of God certainly would not be concerned about the consolations of the world. (Letters 1864; O. XXX, p. 212) 

December 23
May the great yet small Infant of Bethlehem be the delight and love of our heart!...If I contemplate Him upon the knees of His holy mother or in her arms, with His little mouth like the bud of a rose...I see my God more splendid on this throne than Solomon on his throne rich with gems...May the great Saint Joseph help us to partake in his joy; may the most holy virgin give us His love; may the Child deign to fill and infuse the grace of His merits into our hearts! (Letters 940; O. XVI, pp. 120-121) 

December 24
My God, the birth of the Lord gives rise to a thousand thoughts and affections in our hearts! Never could there have been a poorer or a happier birth, nor at the same time a more radiant and happy mother! Saint Paula preferred to live as a pilgrim in Bethlehem than as a society lady in Rome, being convinced that day and night in this hospice where she was staying she could hear the cries of the little Savior in the crib. As Saint Francis of Assisi used to say of little Infant of Bethlehem, He inspired him to despise greatness and earthly ambitions, summoning him back to the sublime love of abjection. (Letters 1864; O. XX, p. 212) 

December 25
Stand alongside the sacred grotto, where our Savior teaches us so many virtues by His silence. And what does He say to us? While He immolates Himself for the love of us, His little heart must set ours on fire. See how lovingly He carries your names within that divine heart that beats out of affectionate desire for your growth in virtue and does not send a single sigh toward His Father in which you do no share, nor a single aspiration that is not aimed at your happiness. The magnet attracts iron and straw and hay; as for us, who are iron by our strength and straw by our weakness, we should unite ourselves to this Infant Who is a true thief of hearts. (Letters 1498; O. XVIII, pp. 334-335) 

December 26
One who truly desires love seeks it; one who truly seeks it finds it; one who truly finds it has found the fountain of life from which to draw salvation from the Lord! Night and day let us cry out, "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love." O heavenly love, when will you fill up our souls? (T.L.G. Book 12, Ch. 2; O. V, p. 322) 

December 27
The beginning of good deeds is good, their progress is better, and their completion is the best of all. However, the beginning is good insofar as it is a beginning, and the progress is good in its character as progress, whereas to wish to complete the work at its beginning or during its progress is to reverse the order...It is very praiseworthy to make a start at learning, but a person who would start without the intention of ever finishing would go against all reason. Fear and the other motives for repentance of which we have spoken are good for the beginning of Christian wisdom...but one who would deliberately wish not to arrive at love or at perfect sorrow would not be acting according to the order established by God... (T.L.G. Book 2, Ch. 19; O. IV, pp. 152-153)

December 28
The years pass by; they blow away unnoticed one after the other, and when they finish they bring to a close our mortal life...Oh, how much more desirable is eternity! Its duration is without end, its days have no nights, and its consolations suffer no changes...What happiness does our soul enjoy if the mercy of God allows us to savor such sweetness! As we wait to see Jesus glorified, now we contemplate Him in His poor cradle. (Letters 939; O. XVI, pp. 119-120) 

December 29
I never think of eternity without a great deal of tenderness, because I reflect: How can the soul ever extend its thoughts to such infinity unless it has some possibility of attaining it? Certainly the power that aspires to an object must have some reasonable relation with it. When I am aware that my desire turns toward eternity, I am very pleased, knowing quite well that I can never strongly desire anything that is impossible. From my very desire, therefore, I am assured that I can reach a blessed eternity...and what else remains for me but the hope of possessing it? This is assured me by the knowledge I have of the infinite goodness of God; He would not have created a soul capable of thinking of and longing for eternity if He were not willing to give it the means of arriving there. (Letters 647; O. XIV, pp. 395-396) 

December 30
So this year has disappeared into the abyss where all the others have gone. How desirable is eternity when we consider these miserable and fleeting changes! Let the time pass by as we, little by little, run with it to be transformed into the glory of the children of God. (Letters 563; O. XIV, p. 234)

December 31
Here we are at the end of the old year; tomorrow will be the beginning of the new. We must bless the Lord for the many graces we have received. May it please God that by means of these fleeting years we may happily arrive at the permanent year of a blessed eternity! Let us make good use of these small passing moments, living them out in that kindness and humility which Jesus, right from the time He was a child, taught us. (Letters 883; O. XV, p. 315) 

Used with permission. 
Text taken from the book: "Every Day with SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES"
Edited by Francis J. Klauder, S.D.B. 
Library of Congress Card Catalogue Number 85-72838
ISBN 0-89944-082-7