St. Francis de Sales, Model for Journalists and Citizens

Lessons from Sts. Francis and Dallan for Modern America

Today in the old Latin Mass calendar is the feast of St. Francis de Sales. He was a truly remarkable man, passionate yet gentle, a fighter of heresy and a loving pastor, a writer and preacher, one of the greatest minds of the Catholic Reformation.

Francis de Sales was a Frenchman trained as a lawyer who chose to become a priest. Assigned to the diocese of Geneva in Switzerland, a hotbed of heretical Calvinism, Francis converted many back to Catholicism through his preaching and pamphlets. He later became bishop of Geneva and was a gentle and charitable pastor, arguing, “A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.”

His writings and preaching particularly focus on helping laypeople live holy lives in the world. In his The Introduction to the Devout Life (an excellent read still today), Francis wrote: “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.” Francis helped St. Jane Frances de Chantal to establish the Sisters of the Visitation, and died in 1622.

Another writer saint we celebrate today is St. Dallan Forghaill, a 6th century Irish royal who went blind but still became the chief bard and poet of Ireland. He preserved Gaelic language and literature, and penned works including the Eulogy of Saint Columba and, most famously, the hymn we know as Be Thou My Vision. It is significant that a blind poet should have begged God to be his vision; Dallan might have lacked physical sight, but he knew that God could give him a spiritual insight far more penetrating and lasting than any earthly sight. Like Francis, Dallan understood that the truth must be spoken fearlessly regardless of risk, as he was martyred by pirates. Yet he also knew how to do it in so moving, beautiful, and loving a fashion that we still sing his hymn today, more than 1000 years after he died.

Francis and Dallan can provide valuable lessons to Christians in general, to concerned citizens, and to writers in particular…Both De Sales and Dallan were fearless defenders of truth, and yet full of love and joy. That was especially hard for the naturally choleric Francis. Charity doesn’t mean we have to entertain sappy thoughts about wicked people, or refuse to call out sin for what it is, or hope justice is not served, or refrain from rebuking evil because it might offend people. But it does mean that we should be motivated by a zeal to see every man turn from evil to goodness.

Read the rest on Substack.

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Posted by CatSalgado32

Catherine Salgado is a columnist for The Rogue Review, a Writer for MRC Free Speech America, and writes her own Substack, Pro Deo et Libertate. She received the Andrew Breitbart MVP award for August 2021 from The Rogue Review for her journalism.

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