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St. Francis De Sales on Vocation

Today is the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, a patron of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and one of the greatest spiritual writers in the history of the Church. His most popular writing is his Introduction to the Devout Life [1]which was written for the lay members of the Church to grow in holiness and to devote their entire lives for the love and at the service of God, our creator.

I have been thinking quite a bit about the term, “vocation”. As Luke Burgis and Dr. Joshua Miller, PhD [2] point out in their book, Unrepeatable [3], we are each called, particularly, in our own way, for a definite purpose. This purpose is not given to any other person ever created. It is the very reason for our existence. God creates us out of love because he wants to share His love to the world through us! Therefore, in living out our lives, it is important for us determine our definite purpose and courageously express God’s love in a way that only we can!

St. Francis de Sales’s beautifully writes on this very topic [4]

When God created the world He commanded each tree to bear fruit after its kind;and even so He bids Christians,–the living trees of His Church,–to bring forth fruits of devotion, each one according to his kind and vocation. A different exercise of devotion is required of each–the noble, the artisan, the servant, the prince, the maiden and the wife; and furthermore such practice must be modified according to the strength, the calling, and the duties of each individual. I ask you, my child, would it be fitting that a Bishop should seek to lead the solitary life of a Carthusian? And if the father of a family were as regardless in making provision for the future as a Capucin, if the artisan spent the day in church like a Religious, if the Religious involved himself in all manner of business on his neighbour’s behalf as a Bishop is called upon to do, would not such a devotion be ridiculous, ill-regulated, and intolerable? Nevertheless such a mistake is often made, and the world, which cannot or will not discriminate between real devotion and the indiscretion of those who fancy themselves devout, grumbles and finds fault with devotion, which is really nowise concerned in these errors. No indeed, my child, the devotion which is true hinders nothing, but on the contrary it perfects everything; and that which runs counter to the rightful vocation of any one is, you may be sure, a spurious devotion.

So we see, as St. Francis puts it, even our devotion to God is going to be different for each individual, and yet, it is through our individual devotion that we come to express the very love of God in this world today. Through prayer and undivided devotion to God above all, we can come to understand our very being and the mission for which we have been created. Many of us will live out that mission as lay men and women, but for others, their missions will lead them to serve the world as priests and consecrated religious. Do we have the courage to become the person God has created us to be? Are we truly devoted to the Lord and his will for your life? 

On this, the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, let us take more time to truly explore our devotion to God and to learn from one of the great spiritual masters of our Church.

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