St Francis de Sales, whose feast is celebrated today, was born into an educated and political family in France in 1567. After studying law in Padua and receiving a doctorate, he returned to France and in time convinced his father that he was called to priesthood rather than government service. It was his gentleness in interactions with all people that was the hallmark of his life. This morning’s short commentary at http://www.franciscanmedia.org says that “he practiced his own axiom: A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.” While I know that to be true, a later section from the commentary holds my attention still and is, I think, a good model for our contemplation today.
His writings, filled with his characteristic gentle spirit, are addressed to lay people. He wants to make them understand that they too are called to be saints. As he wrote in The Introduction to the Devout Life: “It is an error, or rather a heresy, to say devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman…It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world.”