Monday, January 24, 2011

Sing To the Lord A New Song, For He Has Done Marvelous Deeds.

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales,
bishop and doctor of the Church
Reading I
Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
Christ is mediator of a new covenant:
since a death has taken place
for deliverance from transgressions
under the first covenant,
those who are called may receive
the promised eternal inheritance.

For Christ did not enter into
a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one,
but heaven itself,
that he might now appear
before God on our behalf.
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year
into the sanctuary with blood
that is not his own; if that were so,
he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world.
But now once for all
he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice.
Just as it is appointed
that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.
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Psalm 98
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
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Mark 3:22-30
The scribes who had come
from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began
to speak to them in parables,
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself,
that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself
and is divided, he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house
to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.
Amen, I say to you,
all sins and all blasphemies
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

St. Francis de Sales

Francis was destined by his father to be a lawyer so that the young man could eventually take his elder’s place as a senator from the province of Savoy in France. For this reason Francis was sent to Padua to study law. After receiving his doctorate, he returned home and, in due time, told his parents he wished to enter the priesthood. His father strongly opposed Francis in this, and only after much patient persuasiveness on the part of the gentle Francis did his father finally consent. Francis was ordained and elected provost of the Diocese of Geneva, then a center for the Calvinists. Francis set out to convert them, especially in the district of Chablais. By preaching and distributing the little pamphlets he wrote to explain true Catholic doctrine, he had remarkable success.

At 35 he became bishop of Geneva. While administering his diocese he continued to preach, hear confessions and catechize the children. His gentle character was a great asset in winning souls. He practiced his own axiom, “A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.”

Besides his two well-known books, The Introduction to the Devout Life and A Treatise on the Love of God, he wrote many pamphlets and carried on a vast correspondence. For his writings, he has been named patron of the Catholic Press. 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. ”

In spite of his busy and comparatively short life, he had time to collaborate with another saint, Jeanne Frances de Chantal (August 12), in the work of establishing the Sisters of the Visitation. These women were to practice the virtues exemplified in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth: humility, piety and mutual charity. They at first engaged to a limited degree in works of mercy for the poor and the sick. Today, while some communities conduct schools, others live a strictly contemplative life.

Francis de Sales took seriously the words of Christ, “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.” As he said himself, it took him 20 years to conquer his quick temper, but no one ever suspected he had such a problem, so overflowing with good nature and kindness was his usual manner of acting. His perennial meekness and sunny disposition won for him the title of “Gentleman Saint.”

Francis de Sales tells us: “The person who possesses Christian meekness is affectionate and tender towards everyone: he is disposed to forgive and excuse the frailties of others; the goodness of his heart appears in a sweet affability that influences his words and actions, presents every object to his view in the most charitable and pleasing light.”

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Sarah in the tent said...

Just looking up a bit about St Francis de Sales ...
Apparently, as a young student in Paris he became convinced by the Calvinist doctrine of predestination and believed that he himself was predestined for damnation. But he found peace by praying St Bernard's 'Memorare'. I suppose this is because of Mary's intercession at Cana: even though there was a predestined time for Jesus to reveal His glory which had 'not yet come', at His Mother's request Jesus did reveal His glory.

There is a beautiful irony in Calvinism leading to Mary!!

Fr. John L. Sullivan said...

Francis de Sales was born at Thorens, in Savoie, on August 21, 1567, of a noble family. He was brought up in the Catholic faith, but the family had many friends in nearby Geneva, the stronghold of Calvinism. His education was fairly typical of the youth of his class in the latter part of the XVIth Century. He first attended the College of Annecy in Savoie, and later with the Jesuits in Paris.

Considering that Ignatius Loyola founded the Company of Jesus as an ecclesiastical military order, for the stated purpose of combat against the heresies of Luther and Calvin, the notion that "he became convinced by the doctrine of predestination and believed that he was predestined for damnation" is not well founded, to say the least. On the other hand, it is quite possible that young Francis was tempted with such notions by the Adversary, who was well aware of Francis' weak points, as he is of yours and mine. Like Francis, all of us are well advised to pray the Memorare, since "never was it known" that our Mother in Heaven would fail to assist us in our need.