Second Sunday of Easter (April 28, 2019)

In today’s Gospel we see the steadfast love of God active in the risen Jesus as He appears to His disciples. St. Francis de Sales notes that the purpose of this appearance is to affirm their faith in the God of Jesus Christ:

When the disciples were assembled in the cenacle with the doors closed, our Savior stood in their midst and greeted them: Peace be with you. He showed them his hands and his side. Why does He do this? To bolster their faith that was shaken by the crucifixion of Jesus, to whom they were attached. Without the presence of Our Savior, they felt timid and lacked strength. Such is the case when one is without God. They were afraid. Like a ship tossed in a storm without a pilot, such was this poor boat. Our Lord appeared to his disciples to bring relief to their fear. His power gently gives us power.

In Jesus, death was swallowed up in victory. He takes our miseries and ennobles them. Do you have need of strength? Here are my hands. Do you have need of a heart? Here is mine. He shows us his wounds through love. Jesus came into this world to teach us what we need to do to preserve in ourselves the beauty and the divine resemblance that He has so completely repaired and embellished in us. When we recognize the likeness of the Creator in us, then we are able to see the image of God in others. Let us walk as Jesus who chose to give his life for those who would take it from Him.

What a joy it is to reflect on how the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts the first rays and perceptions of divine light and warmth. O good Jesus, may we be open to the peace that you offer us. May we be rooted in faith, joyful in hope and fervent in holy love, as we await your future coming!

(Adapted from Saint Francis de Sales, Oeuvres).

Easter Sunday (April 21, 2019)

Happy Easter! Today we celebrate the most unique moment in the history of humankind: The Resurrection of Jesus who triumphs over death. We welcome our newly baptized whose new life in Christ prepares them for eternal glory. St. Francis de Sales speaks of our need to renew each year our desire to serve God in order to live Jesus.

Jesus, surviving death, lives on in His works. A day will come when we shall rise from the dead. Our mortal bodies, now subject to corruption, will be immortal. Jesus took on our likeness and gave us His so that we might have a new life in abundance. Our God has so lovingly inspired and urged you to conversion. In baptism you became a child of God, forming your self according to the Law of the Gospel. Letting go of your old self, you rose anew in Christ.

Yet, as long as we live we shall need to renew ourselves and begin over. Like some clocks that need to be cleaned and repaired, so it is with our heart. We must straighten out bent parts and repair those parts worn out. Each year such an exercise will warm up your heart, bring new life to your good resolutions to serve God and make you flourish with fresh vigor.

In winter the earth relaxes, rests and does not produce. When spring comes it renews itself with flowers that bring us joy. Because our nature grows cold easily, we need to renew our promise to love God above all, and love all other things because they are agreeable to God, profitable to God’s honor, and destined for God’s glory. Before we enter eternal glory, the Gardener wishes to plant in our garden many flowers. Let us serve God as God wishes and we will see that one day God will do all we wish, and more than we know how to wish. When we are raised to a life of divine love, we live for our Savior who has risen. It is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice. Alleluia!

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Palm/Passion Sunday (April 14, 2019)

In today’s Gospel, we experience Jesus as the ‘suffering servant’. His suffering unto death brings eternal life to the human family. St. Francis de Sales reflects on this event: “The most powerful reason for Jesus’ death is to fill the human spirit with God’s love. Out of death has come life, the wondrous paradox, which the world does not understand. He not only died a cruel death to bring God’s love to us, but he also suffered fear, terror, abandonment, and inner depression such as never had and never shall have an equal. He did this so that we too may persevere in pursuing divine love.”

Jesus’ human feelings left his entire heart exposed to sorrow and anguish. For this reason he cries out: “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Mount Calvary is the mount of lovers. On Calvary death, life and love intermingle. Out of love Jesus chose death on a cross so that we might live as a child of God and possess eternal love. Christian wisdom consists in choosing rightly. Let us choose to empty ourselves of our selfish desires and loves, so that we may be filled with God’s love, which gives rise to new life in us.

We ought to consecrate every moment of our lives to the divine love of Our Savior’s death. If injured by others, look often on Christ Jesus, crucified, forsaken and overwhelmed, by every kind of anguish. Then think of the many people who are incomparably more afflicted than you are and say: Are not my hardships roses in comparison with those, who without help, assistance, or relief live a continual death, burdened by afflictions infinitely greater than mine? When all things fail us, when our distress is at its height, say the final words of Jesus on the cross: “Into Your hands I commend my spirit.” How happy we will be when we entrust ourselves totally into God’s hands! In doing all things for the glory of God, we will do all things well.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Fifth Sunday of Lent (April 7, 2019)

Today’s readings promise us a life that never dies if we live and believe in the Spirit of Jesus Christ who dwells in us. St. Francis de Sales reflects on these promises: “When the falconer removes the hood from his bird, the bird sights its prey and spreads its wings, ready to fly and capture its prey. Held back by the falconer, the bird struggles to free itself from him. So too when faith removes the veil of ignorance from us, we see that our supreme good is in God. We then desire to fly to God but the conditions of this mortal life hold us back. Our ardor may subsequently turn to sadness.

However, we must not lose courage and reduce ourselves to despair. Through a thousand promises made in Scripture and the holy inspirations placed in our heart, God strongly assures us that we can attain a life of infinite goodness. Yet, we must be willing to use the means God offers us. If you live under the Crucified Lord, progressively your desire for God’s goodness turns into hope animated by God’s love. Our Savior will never let you go if you choose Him. When you are completely restored to health by divine love that the Spirit of Jesus pours into your heart, you can go forward and stand by yourself in virtue of your new health and holy love.

While our human nature will always produce self-centered desires and thoughts, they need not delay us on our journey toward loving God’s goodness and doing God’s work. Happy are they whose self-giving love is in the service of God. God will never let them remain barren and unfruitful! Even though they give up only a little for God, God will shower abundant blessings on them in this life and in the next. God’s assurance through many promises of paradise infinitely strengthens our desire to pursue the enjoyment of God’s goodness in Jesus Christ whose Spirit dwells in us.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales).

Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 31, 2019)

Today’s readings urge us to live as children of light. It is the God of Jesus Christ who leads us out of blindness into the light of God’s love. St. Francis de Sales notes similarly: “When we experience the rays of the noonday sun, we scarcely see its light before we quickly feel its heat. So it is with the light of faith. It no sooner casts its light on us and we feel the warmth of God’s love that gives us hope in God’s goodness. When we are extremely careful to do all that we can to open ourselves to divine love, then our faith comes alive and strengthens our hope. Faith brings us to love the beauty of the truths of the mystery of God revealed in Jesus Christ.”

As we accept in faith the teachings of Jesus, our hearts are invigorated with holy love. In Christ, God brings us into the light of faith. When God gives us faith, God enters into our soul and speaks to us by way of inspiration. Only God can enlighten and open our blind eyes. It is a sign of interior conversion when God gives us light to see the source of our blindness. We free ourselves from our selfish desires and come to truly know and accept ourselves as children of the Light. While we naturally experience a deep desire within us for happiness, faith reveals to us the infinite marvels of eternal happiness.

Faith is the best friend of our spirit. It is the foundation of our hope and love. It gives us the certitude of God’s continual offer of grace to us. So let us not be afraid of Our Savior who treats us as a good father and mother treat their child. As long as the child walks on soft grass, the child is allowed to walk alone for that would not do much harm. However, on dangerous paths they carry the child tenderly in their arms. Let us offer ourselves to God, walking the way of love for one another as very dear children of God. It is then that we will live as children of light.

(Adapted from the writings of Saint Francis de Sales)

Third Sunday of Lent (March 24, 2019)

Today’s readings speak to the catechumens who are preparing for baptism. The Scriptures reveal how God cares for those who, like Moses and the Samaritan women, have faith and hope in the Word of God and live it. St. Francis de Sales notes: “Moses’ faith in God’s Word allowed him to use his rod to make water flow from the rock. Attentiveness to God’s Word is necessary to sustain us in our responsibilities in this world. Our entire good lies in accepting the truth of God’s Word and persevering in it. In the Eucharist we are nourished by the Divine Word made flesh.”

We need to grow in God’s Word. Even outside of your prayer, keep yourself as if you were in prayer. Renew yourself throughout the day with thoughts of God’s infinite goodness. Good reading, too, helps the heart come alive and gain new strength and vigor.

Yet, we also ought to nourish and strengthen the divine word by opening our hearts. We must remain attentive and reflect on what God has to say to us in the depths of our hearts. We must digest the divine word so that it becomes a part of us in such a way that we are nourished and strengthened by it. Then, like Jesus, we will put our words into action. We will carry out what we are taught, discerning carefully the needs at hand.

Our Savior desires that we have great confidence in Divine Providence. All who trust in God always reap the fruits of this confidence. Our Savior takes tender care of those who have a great willingness to abandon to Him their weariness and anxious care of advancing in holiness.

We may question whether we will always have the will to please God during our entire life. Alas! There is nothing so weak and changeable as we are. So let us frequently place our good intention before the Lord, who will strengthen our willingness as often as is necessary, so that we have sufficient determination to live God’s Word in this life.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Second Sunday of Lent (March 17, 2019)

In today’s readings, the Covenant of Abraham and the Transfiguration reveal to us how much God desires our love, so as to give us eternal glory. St. Francis de Sales notes: “When God spoke to and promised Abraham that he would have descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky, Abraham had only God’s Word to assure him. God also speaks to us in inspirations that propose the mysteries of faith.”

Through faith we know God’s Word. In hearts that give their consent to God’s inspirations, God, little by little, gently strengthens these hearts with divine love. These first perceptions of God’s love are poured into us through the Holy Spirit. Still, these first movements of love are just the dawn of faith. They are like the green buds of springtime. Faith begins with a love for things of God. Faith shows us that we have implanted in us, a holy natural inclination to love God above all things. No other love can satisfy this desire.

While we have the power to reject divine inspiration, we can not prevent God from inspiring us. Inspirations are favors that God does before we have thought of them. God awakens us when we are asleep. Still, it is in our power to rise or not to rise. Whereas God has awakened us without our help, God will not raise us up without our cooperation. We must consent to God’s call, for God always respects our freedom. God has no slaves, only friends. So it is that Our Savior never abandons us. It is we who abandon Him.

Our confession of faith is an act of choosing to love and serve God as faithful servants. Walk simply and faithfully along the path that God has marked out for you, and you will walk confidently. Be at peace, for Our Savior, who has shown His glory, has taken you by the hand and set you on the way to eternal glory.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

First Sunday of Lent (March 10, 2019)

The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent reminds us that when we are tempted with selfish desires we must keep focused on God’s way of love as exemplified in Jesus. Here are a few of St. Francis de Sales’ thoughts on loving God first, then doing what we desire.

Jesus was tempted in order to teach us that we will always have to choose between good and evil during our entire life. While Jesus tells us that the life of a Christian is a continual rejecting of evilness, and a constant choosing of God’s truth and goodness, He also urges us to walk in the way of love as God’s most dear children. When we live to do God’s will nothing can harm us, for we are armed with faith in God. God’s love becomes the source of all of our desires.

Yet even in our desire to do God’s will, our selfish motives can infect our thinking. Many people who counted on their own strength to work marvels for God failed when under fire, while those who found their strength in God’s help accomplished wonders. We may feel that we do not have the strength to resist our selfish desires. We ought not to be afraid of our weaknesses. Since we desire to belong entirely to God, we must rely on the strength of God, who never fails us in the midst of our weaknesses.

While we must have a firm and habitual resolution never to willfully commit any imperfection, we must not be astonished if we do. At such times we must confide ourselves to the goodness of God, who does not love us less. Very gently place your heart back into the hands of Our Lord, asking God to heal your heart. Then set yourself once again on the path of virtue, practicing the virtue that opposes your selfish desire.

As we grow in holiness, knowledge of our faults disturbs us more. When we find ourselves not the saints we hoped to be, we are very discouraged in the pursuit of real virtue. Do not hurry on so fast. Begin to live well your life in light of your duties of state. Perfection consists in doing the little we do in our vocation, in love, by love, and for love. Trust God. When it pleases God to do so, God will make all your desires holy.

(Adapted from J. Power & W. Wright, Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal; L. Fiorelli, ed. Sermons)

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (March 3, 2019)

In the midst of our daily concerns Jesus challenges us in today’s Gospel to do our level best to produce good fruit. Jesus invites us to have complete trust and confidence in him in the midst of the ups and downs, the losses and gains of everyday life. While we may not always be able to avoid producing bad fruit, we should focus on the times that we manage to produce good fruit.

St. Francis de Sales offers his understanding of the basis for our having childlike trust in God:

The visible sun touches all things with its life-giving warmth, and like a universal lover, it gives them the vigor needed to grow. In the same way God’s love animates the human heart. There is no person who can hide from God’s love. God desires to love us and in turn desires our love.

It is God’s eternal and faithful love that draws us to a faith-filled life. God is at the gate, not merely knocking, but calling to our soul and awakening it: “Come, arise, make haste.” God even goes about crying in the street: “Return to me! Live!” Our divine Savior faithfully shows that his mercy surpasses his justice, and that his redemption is copious. He wishes all to be made whole and that none should perish. “I have loved you with an everlasting love and I will build you again.” These are God’s faithful words and by them God promises that when our Savior came into the world, He established a New Kingdom in his Church.

Yet, the Holy Spirit, a fountain of living water that flows into every part of our heart so as to spread God’s love, has no wish to enter into us, unless it be with our heart’s consent. We are never deprived of God’s love, but we can deprive God’s love of our cooperation. God never takes away our gifts. It is we who turn away our hearts from God. Thus we must be attentive to our advancement in the love we owe God. For the love that God brings to us will never be wanting. Let us respond to this divine love that the Spirit of Jesus desires to flood our hearts with. Then we will experience a new life in the Spirit that helps us to face the realities of life without inordinate worry or overwhelming anxiety.

(Adapted from St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God.)


Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (February 24, 2019)

Today’s readings reveal to us that being made into the image of God we are called to be compassionate and forgiving as Jesus was. St. Francis de Sales notes: “Our Lord came into this world so that all might live a more abundant life and receive a better life. When we see the excessive evils that our loved ones endure, they arouse great compassion and love in us. Yet, we ought to help and express our love to all those who have great need of us. Frequently it is those who bring us more pain than comfort.”

Console the sick and visit the poor. Have compassion for their infirmities, letting these acts touch your heart. It is here that we show that we love from holy love. Pray for them as you help them. Yet, be careful that you do not neglect your responsibilities to your own family household while you care for others. We must ask God to help us love others, especially those for whom we have no inclination to love. They will have a more abundant life by the example you give them. 

Since God wants us to love and cherish others, we must see God’s love in our neighbor. Even though at first we seem reluctant to do so, we must not give up practicing this love of neighbor outwardly. But we must not be surprised if we find ourselves not equally kind and gentle. Be patient with everyone’s imperfections but especially your own. Have the courage to pick yourself up after a fall. There’s no better way to grow in God’s love than to always start over again and never think that we have done enough.

Do not worry whether or not your work will bear the fruit you intend to produce, for you will not be asked for the fruit.  You will only be asked if you faithfully occupied yourself in cultivating well these barren and arid lands. You will not be asked whether you have gathered in a harvest, but only if you have taken sufficient care to sow the seed.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (February 17, 2019)

Today’s readings remind us of the life-giving qualities received by those who follow God’s teachings and who trust in God’s goodness. St. Francis de Sales similarly notes: “The greater our trust in God, the more life-giving is our spirit. If we are to allow God’s love to operate in us, we must make room in our heart so that the Holy Spirit may flood our heart with holy love. When our concerns and responsibilities are full of anxiety and fear, we limit our ability to act in the way God desires us to act.”

What are we to do if we have the desire to serve God but lack sufficient strength to put that desire into practice? Offer this desire to God. God renews our desire as often as is necessary to make us persevere in our desire to do God’s Will. Placing our trust in God’s goodness makes us eventually capable of acting on our desire to belong to God.

I am not saying that you must always feel this determination to belong entirely to God. We may always have feelings of reluctance to the events in our life that God does not desire but permits. Do not be troubled by such feelings, for few people are able to get rid of them. Yet, you ought to constantly recognize that you belong to God even though you do not always feel that way. We must deliberately choose to keep ourselves focused on the goal to belong to God alone. As we focus on pursuing our goal, our reluctant feelings will gradually be transformed as we allow God’s love to flood our heart.

Let us frequently place our good will in God’s hands, and God will renew our true willingness as often as is necessary in this mortal life.  Those who place themselves peacefully in the hands of God’s Providence let themselves move forward, like a person sleeping in a ship that never stops moving forward on a tranquil sea. Blessed are they who put their trust in God, for confidence in God brings life to their human spirit!

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales).

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (February 10, 2019)

In today’s readings we experience Isaiah, Paul and Peter coming to recognize that their past sins did not prevent them from becoming true disciples of God. St. Francis de Sales notes: “No doubt, there is a sense of shame when we have been disloyal to God. These feelings of shame are very good when they are used in a constructive way. Shame is only useful if it leads us to rise to an intimate union of our heart with God.” 

We must never remain in shame, or with a sad and unquiet heart. As St. Paul teaches, we “must discard the old nature and put on the new.”  We must clothe ourselves with God, and lift up our hearts in holy confidence to God. The foundation of our trust is in God and not in ourselves. Our well being derives from letting ourselves be led and directed absolutely by God’s Spirit, who transforms us through divine love. 

While the saints saw in themselves many imperfections, this did not stop them from doing God’s work. God left in several of the dear disciples many marks of their evil inclinations for some time after their conversion, all for their greater good. For example Peter who stumbled many times after his initial calling failed miserably in denying God. 

We cannot expect to be a saint in an instant. We must little by little and step by step acquire a self-mastery that the saints took years to acquire. Be patient. Leading us by the hand, God does with us deeds that call for our cooperation Some trees bear fruit every year, others every three years. Let us be content that God will let us bear our fruit sooner or later. 

During this long pilgrimage on earth, God’s Goodness is willing to lead us and carry us. Yet, God always wants us to take our little steps alone, doing on our part all that we can in virtue and good works, helped by God’s love.  

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 3, 2019)

In today’s reading of the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul tells us what it means to love. St. Francis de Sales based his whole life and his teachings on love:

By love we live, feel and move. All our affections follow our love. Love is the life of the heart. As our heart is, so are our actions. Those who open themselves to God’s love in their heart have God’s love in their actions. Divine love can do all things and endure all things when we allow it to reign in our hearts. A heart that has holy love lives a clean, healthy, new life. This new life is both lively and life giving. It is the bond of perfection.

God’s love is always present in us. Unfortunately, we do not see it in ourselves. Because we do not see the presence of God’s love in us, it is easy to forget. We then behave as if God is very distant from us. God’s love is present in a most particular way in your heart and in the very center of your spirit. From time to time, retire into the solitude of your own heart, even while engaged in discussions or transactions. Talk with God. Other people cannot enter this mental solitude since they are not standing around your heart, which remains alone in the presence of God.

Our life on earth is like the perpetual, diverse motions of the waves of the sea. Some days we are buoyed up in hope, and sometimes we are cast down in fear. Even though everything changes within or around us, we must be like the mariner’s needle that always points to the North Star. Our will must remain looking, striving, and aspiring toward the love of God. Nothing can disturb or move us from God’s love, since our resolution never to forsake God’s merciful love keeps us steady amid the various changes brought to us by the conditions of this life.  Thus do not lose courage, nor let your spirit sink amid contradictions. God will never abandon the care of your heart, for God’s love is eternal.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 27, 2019)

In today’s reading of the Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul describes how members of the Christian community have different functions and gifts that contribute to the unity of the community. St. Francis de Sales speaks of the gifts that unite us in our differences:

As members of the body of the Church, we are so united that we share in the good of one another. Even the sick who practice many admirable virtues in their illness contribute to the well being of the community. Our Savior wishes that holy love unite us. As living members of Jesus Christ and the Church, the fruits of our labor flow down upon those who are united by sacred love. Many grapes are pressed together to make one wine. Many grains of wheat are ground and kneaded together to make one single loaf. The gift of our sharing the Eucharist together is the source of our union, for the Eucharist unites us as children of God.

We must give great value to the gifts received from God and do our best for the welfare of all. This may be difficult at times. We may have many doubts in accepting the responsibilities given to us. However, in simplicity of heart we must say, “I can do anything in God who strengthens me.” We do what we have to do: not troubled by the greatness of the task, the amount of time required or the many delays encountered. For the Holy Spirit dwelling in us makes our frail works display the greatness of God’s love that unites us.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 20, 2019)

Today’s Gospel focuses on God’s presence in Jesus as He transforms water into wine, symbolic of our transformation in Christ. St. Francis de Sales similarly notes:

Jesus came to create a new humanity. He began his ministry to transform the human person by manifesting God’s goodness with a miracle at a joyful banquet. At the Wedding Feast of Cana, Jesus transformed water into wine to meet a need of the newly wedded couple. Then at another banquet before His death, He instituted the Eucharist so that we might be nourished and become like Him.

In the transformation of water into wine, and the institution of the Eucharist, God’s goodness in the Person of Jesus is made present to us. Christ’s presence in our lives turns the water of our tepid love into the wine of God’s love. Divine love invigorates and strengthens us as we journey toward wholeness in living Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, Mary, convinced that Jesus would provide the wine for the wedding couple, presents their need to her Son. We too must confidently ask God for our spiritual and temporal needs. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask daily that God’s Kingdom come and God’s Will be done. But Jesus also told us to ask God to give us our daily bread.

When we are disheartened and feel desolate we must present our needs to God, convinced that God will answer us according to our needs. We can say to God: “It is enough for me to present myself to You as I am. You will provide for my miseries and necessities as You see fit.” While God never gives us an excess of our self-centered wants, God never fails to supply what is necessary for our well being, if we are open to God’s presence in our life.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, L. Fiorelli, ed.)

Baptism of the Lord (January 13, 2019)

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, which marks the beginning of his ministry. St. Francis de Sales observes that God also calls us to service that at times is a struggle for us:

Our Savior’s unfathomable ways of calling us to His service are so lovely and varied. When we have a firm and steadfast determination to want to serve God in the way and place where God calls us, we then have a true vocation.

While we are firm in our perseverance to serve God, we still commit faults. We may also hesitate in our resolve to use the means given us to serve God. We are all at the mercy of our feelings and emotions, subject to changes and ups and downs. We are not to worry if we sometimes experience feelings of distaste and discouragement in responding to our call to serve God. It is normal to experience these ups and downs. Even though we are not exceedingly virtuous, we are still fit for God’s service. Yet, we must stand firm in the midst of changing moods. Some virtues can only be practiced amid difficulty. It is not our willful feelings, but our intention to willingly persevere in serving God that determines the firmness and steadfastness of our commitment to love as God desires us to love.

A good string musician has the habit of testing the strings of his instrument from time to time to see if they need tightening or loosening in order to render the tone in perfect harmony. We too at times need to examine and consider all the affections of our heart to see if they are in tune with the wishes and commands of Our Savior. Let us strengthen our fervor, by reaffirming often our commitment to be God’s children who are called to love divinely. Live courageously and faithfully to the original stirring of your heart to serve God, and you will be happy.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

Epiphany of the Lord (January 6, 2019)

In today’s Gospel, on the Feast of the Epiphany, we experience the confidence of the Gentile magi, who seek God’s goodness in the Christ Child. Confidence to trust in God’s goodness is a constant theme in St. Francis de Sales’ writings:

The Magi from the East, confidently following the Star of Bethlehem, seek to render homage to the newborn Infant lying in a manger. They find no pleasure in the beauty of the city of Jerusalem, or in the magnificence of Herod’s court. Their hearts seek the little cave at Bethlehem and its little Child. They rigorously forsake every other pleasure so that they may more strongly find pleasure in God’s presence in the Christ Child.

Let us come close to our Savior in the divine crib and listen to the many inspirations and affections that awaken us to God’s goodness. It may be very difficult at times to trust in God. We may even feel no confidence in God. Yet in these times of difficulties we still have the power to make a simple act of confidence in God. We can say, “While I feel no confidence in You, I know that you are my God, and that I am all yours.”

We must not be distressed if we make these acts without fervor. Our Lord loves them better thus, for our lips speak what our heart wills. In this way we make continual progress in holy love, our journey toward wholeness. Our confidence is in God who is unchangeable and not in ourselves who are constantly changing. No one can ever trust in God without reaping the fruits of this confidence. Like the Magi following the Star of Bethlehem, let us pursue divine love with the confidence that we are continually being made whole in Christ—Who guides all those that choose to walk in His radiant light.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, particularly the Sermons, L. Fiorelli, Ed.)

Mary, Mother of God (January 1, 2019)

Mary is called the Mother of God because she is the “mother of the divine redeemer.” She conceived, brought forth and nourished the Son of God here on earth. While she is subordinate to her Son, she is greater than all the saints.

Mary has a unique role to play in our history of salvation. Her consent without hesitation to accept God’s Will at the Annunciation has had a salutary influence on the whole human family. She brought Life to the whole human family. Since she is the Mother of the Son of God, Mother of the Church and our Mother who brings us to her Son, it is most fitting that we honor her in a special way.

Today, is an appropriate day to honor Mary as she stands first among all the saints, and brings forth the Great Peacemaker to the human family.

Blessing

Lord, Mary’s child, make us as a human family an instrument of your peace:

  • Where there is hatred, let us sow love.
  • Where there is injury, pardon.
  • Where there is doubt, faith.
  • Where there is darkness, light.
  • Where there is sadness, joy.
  • Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
  • To be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.
  • For it is giving that we receive.
  • It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
  • And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

Holy Family (December 30, 2018)

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus telling Mary and Joseph that He must be in his ‘Father’s house’, yet he remains obedient to his parents. St. Francis de Sales notes:

God draws us by special attractions. If the attraction comes from God, it leads you to ‘loving obedience’. In doing God’s will, ‘loving obedience’ undertakes a command lovingly, no matter how difficult it may be. We desire that God take all our affections and actions, and shape them. This road will surely lead you to reap a harvest of blessings.

In the Scriptures, Jesus tells us often that He came not to do His own will but the will of His Father. During His mortal life, Jesus also lovingly obeyed His parents and others. Our Savior now asks of us to imitate the loving obedience that He rendered, not only to the Divine good will, but also to His earthly parents. Joseph and Mary received great joy because they helped Him, and remained constantly in His presence.

What causes us to be inconstant and changeable in our moods to love and serve God? It is the diversity of our desires. Constant mood swings come from our inordinate desires. Holy love has only one desire: to love and serve God, who desires we have a tranquil spirit, and experience in this world a slight foretaste of eternal joy.

Evenness of mind and heart is the most necessary virtue for the stability of moods that leads to holiness. One way to achieve evenness and stability of moods in our lives is to have a daily routine of mental prayer and other activities that sustain our well being: eating, sleeping, and exercise. Be faithful to God’s wishes and commands, as the bees do with their queen. Then you will live firm and unwavering in your resolution to love God’s will as Jesus did: constantly, courageously, hardily, and ardently.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Oeuvre: Entretiens)

Vigil of Christmas (December 25, 2018)

This evening is the vigil of Christmas and we ponder on the mystery of the birth of Our Lord. St. Francis de Sales offer us some thoughts on the nativity:

If someone intends to build a house or a palace, he must first consider for whom the dwelling is intended. He will obviously use different plans depending upon the social status of the person. So it was with the Divine Builder. God built the world for the Incarnation of the Son. Divine wisdom foresaw from all eternity that the Word would assume our nature in coming to earth. To accomplish this task, God chose a woman, the most holy Virgin Mary, who brought forth Our Savior.

In the Incarnation, God made us see what the human mind could hardly have imagined or understood. So great was God’s love for humanity that in becoming human, God desired to fill us with divinity. God wished to crown us with divine goodness and dignity. God wanted us to be children of God.

Our Savior came into this world to teach us what we need to do to preserve in ourselves this divine resemblance that God has so completely repaired and embellished in us. Oh, how earnestly we ought to summon up our courage to live according to what we are. Our Savior came to teach us how to live according to reason, and to show us how to subdue our disordered loves. He was wholly filled with mercy and kindness for the human family. Often when the most hardened sinners have reached the point of living as if there were no God, Our Savior allows them to find His Heart full of pity and kind mercy toward them. All who know this experience some feeling of gratitude for it. It is Jesus whom we must form and bring to birth in our own hearts. The Child is well worth whatever we endure in order to bring Him to birth.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)