St. Francis de Sales teaches us to be faithful in small things, to have a just and reasonable mind, and to regulate our desires.
Faithfulness in small things
St. Francis wrote, “Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily; and our Lord Himself has told us that ‘he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.’ If you do all in God’s name, all you do will be well done, whether you eat, drink or sleep, whether you amuse yourself or turn the spit, so long as you do all wisely, you will gain greatly as in God’s sight, doing all because He would have you do it.”
The Bishop of Belley wrote regarding St. Francis, “He surely practiced what he preached, for he was the most faithful man I ever knew. Not only was he very precise and reverent in every ceremony no matter how small— at the altar, in choir or in public office— but also in his private devotions. It was the same in his social habits; he never omitted anything.”
Just and reasonable
St. Francis wrote, “Reason is the special characteristic of man, and yet it is a rare thing to find really reasonable men….We find fault with our neighbor very readily for a small matter, while we pass over great things in ourselves. We strive to sell dear and buy cheap. We are eager to deal out strict justice to others, but to obtain indulgence for ourselves. We expect a good construction to be put on all we say, but we are sensitive and critical as to our neighbor’s words…… If some inferior is unacceptable to us, or we have once caught him in error, he is sure to be wrong in our eyes whatever he may do, and we are for ever thwarting, or looking coldly on him, while, on the other hand, some one who happens to please us is sure to be right.”
The saint advises us to put ourselves into our neighbor’s place, and to put our neighbor in our place. He wrote, “Sell as you would buy, and buy as you would sell, and your buying and selling will alike be honest.”
St. Francis reminds us to avoid evil desires and urges us not to desire things which are dangerous to the soul. The saint also warns us not to indulge in longings after events which as yet are far distant, for they only distract and weary the heart.
He wrote, “If a young man gives way to overweening longings for an employment he cannot obtain yet a while, what good will it do him? If a married woman sets her heart on becoming a religious, or if I crave to buy my neighbor’s estate, he not being willing to sell it, is it not mere waste of time? If, when sick, I am restlessly anxious to preach or celebrate, to visit other sick people, or generally to do work befitting the strong, is it not an unprofitable desire, inasmuch as I have no power to fulfill it? And meanwhile these useless wishes take the place of such as I ought to have,– namely, to be patient, resigned, self-denying, obedient, gentle under suffering,–which are what God requires of me under the circumstances….. I can never think it well for one whose vocation is clear to waste time in wishing for some different manner of life than that which is adapted to his duty, or practices unsuitable to his present position–it is mere idling, and will make him slack in his needful work.“
May we all have the ardent desire to serve God faithfully in the ordinariness of our daily duties.