St. Francis de Sales and the Salesians: A Spirituality for the Modern World

Learn from the powerful model of Salesian spirituality and deepen your relationship with God and the world through this 12-part lecture series by Dr. Wendy Wright, PhD, profession of theology at Creighton University.

St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622) was born to a life of privilege, but after experiencing a profound conversion, he abandoned his wealth to devote himself to God. He went on to become a champion of the poor and a renowned preacher. Along with his spiritual friend St. Jane de Chantal, St. Francis de Sales taught the tradition of devout humanism. The Salesian tradition carries a vital message: God desires you to know and be close to him.

These 12 inspiring lectures invite you to reflect on this message, leading you to the full realization of your identity as beloved son or daughter of God. Under the guidance of one of the world’s leading Salesian spirituality experts, you will explore inspiring models in the Salesian tradition.

These lectures, along with an electronic study guide, are available for purchase here on the Now You Know Media site.

Works by St. Francis de Sales

Available from Embraced by God, Stella Niagara, NY:

St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life (There are many editions—a good one is translated w/ introduction/notes by John K. Ryan. New York; Doubleday Image Book, 2003.)

Francis de Sales: Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God (The Crossroad Spiritual Legacy Series. Wright, Wendy M. New York: Crossroad, 1993.)

St. Francis de Sales, Selected Letters (Translated, with introduction by Elizabeth Stopp. London: Faber & Faber/New York: Harper, 1960._

The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Prayer (Edited by Lewis S. Fiorelli, translated by the Nuns of the Visitation [Frances Therese Leary], with a preface by Fr. M. Basil Pennington, and introduction by Canon Henry Benedict Mackey. Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, vol. 1. Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books, 1985.)

St. Francis de Sales: A Testimony by St. Jane de Chantal (Newly edited in translation with an introduction by Elisabeth Stopp. London: Faber, 1967.)

Introduction to the Devout Life Audio Book

IDL on YouTubeDid you know that you can listen to the Introduction to the Devout Life on YouTube? Wow! Thanks to Julianne Jackson of our Gulf Coast group for bringing this to our attention. Enjoy the recording here.

 

 

Comprehensive Salesian Bibliography

What follows is a comprehensive bibliography of the writings and teachings of St. Francis de Sales. Reprinted here with permission from the author, Joe Boenzi, SDB.


Saint Francis de Sales, 1567-1622:

Toward a Complete Bibliography of English-language Works

compiled by Joseph Boenzi, SDB Introduction

The following bibliography is an update for the internet of a bibliography I was able to publish in the Journal of Salesian Studies in the Spring of this year. The scope of that work was to provide English-speaking students of Salesian ministry and spirituality with a tool that would assist them access the writings and teachings of Saint Francis de Sales.

Continue Reading

Works on Salesian Spirituality

Available from Embraced by God, Stella Niagara, NY:

Francis de Sales, Sage and Saint (André Ravier. Translated by Joseph D. Bowler. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988.)

Madame de Chantal: Portrait of a Saint (Elisabeth Stopp. London: Faber and Faber, 1962/Westminster, 1963.)

A Man to Heal Differences: Essays and Talks on St. Francis de Sales (Philadelphia: St. Joseph’s University Press, 1997.)

Bond of Perfection: Jeanne de Chantal and François de Sales (Wendy Wright. New York: Paulist, 1985.)

A Retreat With Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal and Aelred of Rievaulx: Befriending Each Other in God. (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1996.)

Live Jesus! Key Aspects of Salesian Spirituality (Lewis S. Fiorelli. Review for Religious 46.4 (July 1987): 491-501.)

Devotions and Meditations

Here are just a few Catholic devotions that are popular with Salesians. Enjoy!

Continue Reading

Salesian Organizations - Our Extended Salesian Family

St. Francis de Sales

The St. Francis de Sales Association falls under the umbrella of the France-based Society of St. Francis de Sales, which also includes the Sons of St. Francis de Sales, Priests of St. Francis de Sales and the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate. There is a St. Francis de Sales Association website in French (visit it here), and we maintain our own site for U.S. and English-speaking visitors: www.sfdsassociation.org.

Apart from our society, there are numerous other Salesian groups inspired by the teachings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal.

Continue Reading

Stations of the Cross

INTRODUCTION (from the Introduction to the Devout Life)

Leader: Philothea, I especially counsel you to practice mental prayer, the prayer of the heart, and particularly that which centers on the life and passion of our Lord. By turning your eyes on him in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with him. You will learn his ways and form your actions after the pattern of his. He is "the light of the world" and therefore it is in him and by him and for him that we must be instructed and enlightened.

All: Lord Jesus, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free. Help us, that through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we might be filled with your light and show to all, through our words and deeds, that you live and continue to walk the face of the earth in and through us. Amen.

First Station: Jesus Receives the Sentence of Death

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Treatise on the Love of God, 12:12)

Behold Jesus our High Priest. Consider how he bore us upon his shoulders, as he took upon himself the task of redeeming us by his death, "even to death upon the cross." O Theotimus, the Savior's soul knew us all by name. Above all, on the day of his passion when he offered his tears, his prayers, his blood and his life for all men, he sent up for you in particular such thoughts of love as these: "My eternal Father, I take upon myself and charge against myself all the sins of poor Theotimus, to undergo torment and death so that he may be freed from them and may not perish but live. Let me die, provided that he may live. Let me be crucified, provided that he may be glorified.

All: God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.

Second Station: Jesus Accepts His Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Leader:

God in his divine wisdom has from all eternity beheld the cross he bestows upon you---his precious gift from his heart. He contemplated this cross with his all-knowing eye before bestowing it upon you. He pondered over it with his divine mind; he examined it with his all-wise justice; with his loving mercy he warmed it through and through; and with both his hands he weighed it to determine if it be one ounce too heavy for you. He blessed it with his all-holy name; with his grace he anointed it and with his consolation he perfumed it through and through; and then once more he considered you and your courage. Finally, it comes from heaven as a special message of God to you, alms of the all-merciful love of God for you.

All: It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured.

Third Station: Jesus Fall for the First Time

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Introduction to the Devout Life, 3:9)

Alas, my poor heart, here we are fallen into the pit we were so firmly resolved to avoid! Well, we must get up and again leave it forever. We must call on God's mercy and hope that it will help us to be steadier in the days to come. Let us start out again on the way of humility. Let us be of good heart and from this day be more on guard. God will help us; we will do better.

All: God, in Christ, was reconciling the world to himself and he has entrusted the message of reconciliation to us.

Fourth Station: Jesus Meets Mary, His Mother

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Treatise on the Love of God, 7:3)

"Ah! Mother of Life itself, what do you seek?" She answers, "I seek my child, who is the life of my life." "But why do you seek him?" "To be close to him." "But now he is among the sorrows of death." "Ah, it is not joy that I seek, it is himself. My heart, full of love, makes me seek always to be united to that loving child, my dear and loved one."

All: You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices; but your grief will be turned to joy.

Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Introduction to the Devout Life, 3:35)

Philothea, you must be ready to suffer many great afflictions for our Lord, even martyrdom itself. Resolve to give him whatever you hold dearest if it pleases him to take it. Prepare your heart for such sacrifices. However, as long as divine Providence does not send you such great, piercing afflictions, bear patiently the slight injuries, the little inconveniences, the inconsequential losses that daily come to you. By means of such trifles as these, borne with love and affection, you will completely win his heart and make it your own. All such little trials, when accepted and embraced with love, are highly pleasing to God's mercy. Since such opportunities present themselves from moment to moment, it will be a great means of storing up vast spiritual riches if only you use them well.

All: If anyone would serve me, let him follow me; where I am, there my servant will be.

Sixth Station: Veronica Cleanses Jesus' Face

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Introduction to the Devout Life, 3:35)

Great opportunities to serve God rarely present themselves but little ones are frequent. Whoever will be "faithful over a few things" will be placed "over many" says the Savior. "Do all things in the name of God," and you will do all things well. Provided you know how to fulfill your duties properly, then "whether you eat or drink," whether you sleep or take recreation, you will profit greatly in God's sight by doing all these things because God wishes you to do them.

All: As often as you did it for one of my least brothers and sisters, you did it for me.

Seventh Station: Jesus Falls Again under the Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Treatise on the Love of God, 9:2)

Considered in themselves, trials certainly cannot be loved, but looked at in their origin, that is, in God's providence and ordaining will, they are worthy of unlimited love. A truly loving heart loves God's good pleasure not only in consolations but also in afflictions, but it loves most of all in the cross, in pain, and labor, because love's principle power is to enable the lover to suffer for the beloved object.

All: It was thus that He humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross.

Eighth Station: Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Treatise on the Love of God, 8:4)

A hundred times a day we should turn our gaze upon God's loving will, make our own will melt into it, and devoutly cry out "O God of infinite sweetness, how amiable is your will and how desirable are your favors. You have created us for eternal life, and your maternal bosom, with its sacred breast swelling with incomparable love, abounds in the milk of mercy, whether to pardon penitents or to make perfect the just. Why do we not fasten our wills to yours, like the children to their mother's breasts, to draw out the milk of your eternal blessings?

All: I give you a new commandment: love one another.

Ninth Station: Jesus Falls a Third Time

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Introduction to the Devout Life, 4:1)

Let us give up this blind world, Philothea. Let it cry out at us as long as it pleases, like a cat that cries out to frighten birds in the daytime. Let us be firm in our purposes and unswerving in our resolutions. Perseverance will prove whether we have sincerely sacrificed ourselves to God and dedicated ourselves to a devout life. We are crucified to the world and the world must be crucified to us. The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad.

All: Whoever wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

Tenth Station: Soldier's Remove Jesus' Robe

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Treatise on the Love of God, 9:16)

We must strip ourselves of all affections, both little and great, and make a frequent examination of our hearts to see if it is truly ready to divest itself of all garments. Then at the proper time, we must take up again the affections suitable to the service of charity, so that we may die naked upon the cross with our divine Savior and afterwards rise again with him in the new man. "Love is as strong as death" to enable us to forsake all things. It is magnificent as the resurrection to adorn us with glory and honor.

All: Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth.

Eleventh Station: Soldiers Crucify Jesus

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Treatise on the Love of God, 12:10)

Ah, Lord Jesus, when shall it be that having sacrificed to you all that we have, we shall immolate to you all that we are? When shall we offer to you as a holocaust our own free will, the only child of our spirit? When shall we bind it and lay it upon the funeral pyre that is your cross, your thorns and your lance, so that like a little lamb it may be a victim pleasing to your good pleasure, to die and to be consumed in the fire and by the sword of your holy love? O free will of my heart, how good a thing it will be for you to be bound and laid upon the cross of your divine Savior! How desirable a thing will it be for you to die to yourself so as to burn forever as a holocaust to the Lord!

All: God has loved us and has sent his Son as an offering for our sins.

Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world

Leader: (from the Treatise on the Love of God, 12:13)

Theotimus, Mount Calvary is the mount of lovers. All love that does not take its origin from the Savior's passion is foolish and perilous. Unhappy is love without the Savior's death. Love and death are so mingled in the Savior's passion that we cannot have one in our hearts without the other. Upon Calvary, we cannot have life without love, or love without the Redeemer's death.

All: Live Jesus, whom I love.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross

Leader: We adore you, O Christ and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Treatise on the Love of God, 7:13)

Various sacred lovers were present at the death of the Savior. All those who were filled with loving passion for their Savior were in love with his passion and sorrow. But his sweet Mother, who loved him more than all the others, was more than all the others, pierced through and through by the sword of sorrow. Her Son's sorrow at that time was a piercing sword that passed through the Mother's heart, for that Mother's heart was fastened, joined, and united to her Son in so perfect a union that nothing could wound the one without inflicting the keenest torture upon the other. When her maternal bosom was thus wounded with love, Mary not only sought no cure but loved that wound more than any cure and dearly guarded the shafts of sorrow she had received because of the love that had sped them into her heart. Continually she desired to die for them, since her Son died for them. O death, living by love! O love, dying of life!

All: The measure of our love is to love without measure.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed In the Tomb

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you ...

All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Leader: (from the Treatise on the Love of God, 12:13)

And now at last as our conclusion, the death and passion of our Lord is the sweetest and the most compelling motive that can animate our hearts in this mortal life. The children of the cross glory in this, their wondrous paradox which the world does not understand: out of death, which devours all things, has come the food of our consolation, and out of death, strong above all things, has issued the all-sweet honey of our love. O Jesus my Savior, how worthy of love is your death, for it is the supreme effect of your love.

All: With your blood you purchased for God men of every race and tongue, of every people and nation.

Concluding Prayer

Leader: Almighty God, loving Father, help us through the Stations, to understand and to appreciate what Jesus did for us. Through a constant memory of His Passion, may we let live and reign in us the love of Him who died for love if us. May that divine love so change us that, through us, Jesus Christ may be seen once more walking the face of the earth. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.


All: Amen.

The Way of the Cross With St. Francis de Sales

The Way of the CrossThe little booklet The Way of the Cross with Saint Francis de Sales, written by Cynthia McMullen and illustrated by Mary Delaney, was published in 2013 is now out of print.

At the request of several groups, it is available here in pdf format.

St. Jane de Chantal's Devotions

In her own words, Jane de Chantal 

"I am Your child, all Yours; good children think only of pleasing their father. I don't want to have any worries and I leave in Your care everything that concerns me, for You love me, my God. Father, You are my good. My soul rests and trusts in Your love and eternal providence." 

"O most holy will of God, I give You infinite thanks for the mercy with which You have surrounded me. With all my strength and love, I adore You from the depths of my soul and unite my will to Yours now and forever, especially in all that I shall do and all that You will be pleased to send me this day, consecrating to Your glory my soul, my mind, my body, all my thoughts, words and actions, and my whole being. I beg You, with all the humility of my heart, accomplish in me Your eternal designs, and do not allow me to present any obstacle to this. 

"Your eyes, which can see the most intimate recesses of my heart, know the intensity of my desire to live out Your holy will, but they can also see my weakness and limitations. That is why, prostrate before Your infinite mercy, I implore You, my Savior, through the gentleness and justice of this same will of Yours, to grant me the grace of accomplishing it perfectly, so that, consumed in the fire of Your love, I may be an acceptable sacrifice which will praise and bless You forever. Amen."

St. Jane's Act of Abandonment

The Rosary

Leader:

Let us place ourselves in the presence of God

  • the God who is present in all things and in all places in creation (pause);
  • God who is especially present in our heart and in the very center of our spirit (pause);
  • God, in His humanity, who looks down upon His children from heaven, especially those at prayer (pause);
  • and God who is truly present but unseen standing next to us (pause).

All: 
My God, by the sign of your cross, deliver me from my enemies.

Leader:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the God, the Father Almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

All:
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Leader: (upon the first large bead)
O holy Trinity--- Father, Son and Spirit--- we adore and honor you. Give us your grace to pray this rosary in a manner most pleasing to you.

All:
O God, come to our assistance!

Leader:
Let us pray in the words Our Savior has taught us.

All:
"Our Father..."

Leader: (on the first of the smaller three beads)
Let us implore the intercession of Mary the dearest daughter of the Father that God may accept our prayer.

All:
"Hail Mary..."

Leader: (on the second of the three smaller beads)
Let us implore the intercession of Mary, the most-beloved Mother of the Son of God.

All:
" Hail Mary..."

Leader: (on the third and last of the three smaller beads) 
Let us implore the intercession of Mary, the only true spouse of the Holy Spirit.

All:
"Hail Mary..."

Leader: (on the last large bead)
O God, in your mercy, accept our prayers for those for whom we now pray (especially________________).

All:
"Our Father..."
(Upon the following five decades, one may think of some holy subject or upon the joyous, sorrowful or glorious mysteries

Mondays and Saturdays: The Joyful Mysteries

  • the Annunciation
  • the Visitation
  • the Birth of Jesus
  • the Presentation in the Temple
  • the Finding of Jesus in the Temple

Tuesdays and Fridays: The Sorrowful Mysteries

  • the Agony in the Garden
  • the Scourging at the Pillar
  • the Crowning with Thorns
  • the Carrying of the Cross
  • the Crucifixion

Wednesdays and Sundays: The Glorious Mysteries

  • the Resurrection
  • the Ascension
  • the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
  • the Assumption of Mary
  • the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven

Thursdays: The Luminous Mysteries

  • the Baptism in the Jordan
  • the Wedding at Cana
  • the proclamation of the Kingdom of God
  • the Transfiguration
  • the institution of the Eucharist

(Prayer at the end of each decade, after the "Glory Be...")

All:
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to heaven especially those in most need of thy mercy.

(After the fifth decade is recited the Memorare -- the same prayer prayed by a young Francis de Sales to end his crisis of faith.)

All:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgins of virgins, my Mother; to you do I come, before you I kneel sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Leader: (on the first large bead)
O Lord, we thank you for the grace to offer these prayers to You.

All:
"Our Father...

Leader: (on the first of the three smaller beads)
O Holy Virgin Mary, offer our understanding to the eternal Father so that we might carefully consider His blessings.

All:
"Hail Mary..."

Leader: (on the second of the three smaller beads)
O Holy Virgin Mary, present our memory to your Son, Jesus that we might continually recall His sufferings.

All:
"Hail Mary..."

Leader: (on the third of the three smaller beads)
O Holy Virgin Mary, give our will to the Holy Spirit so that it might be inflamed with the fire of His love.

All:
"Hail Mary..."

Leader: (on the last large bead)
Most Merciful God, we beseech you to accept this prayer to the honor and glory of your Name.

All:
"Our Father..."

All: (optional)
Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do you, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen

Leader / All respond:

St. Francis de Sales ... (pray for us)

St. Jane de Chantal...(pray for us)

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque...(pray for us)

St. Leonie de Sales Aviat...(pray for us)

Leader:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

All:
Amen.

The Memorare - Traditional

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who, fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thine intercession was left unaided. 

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen. 

Memorare-1604 attributed to St. Francis de Sales 

Hail, most glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God. You are my Mother and my Queen. Hence, I beg you to accept me as your son and servant since I want you alone to be my Mother and Mistress. I beg you, my good, gracious and gentle Mother, to bring me comfort in all my anguishes and tribulations of body and soul. 

Remember, most gracious Virgin, that you are my Mother and that I am your son, that you are very powerful and I, a poor, vile and feeble creature. Hence, I beg you, my Mother, to govern and defend me in all my ways and actions, for, alas! I am a poor needy beggar much in need of your holy protection. Most Holy Virgin, my gracious Mother, preserve and free my body and soul from evils and dangers, and grant me a share in your possessions and virtues, especially in your holy humility, excellent purity, and fervent love.   

Do not tell me, gracious Virgin, that you cannot, for your beloved Son granted you all power, in Heaven as on Earth. Do not tell me that you ought not, for you are the common Mother of all men and women and especially mine. If you could not, I would excuse you, saying: "It is true that she is my Mother and loves me as her son, but the poor woman has neither wealth nor power." If you were not my Mother, I would wait patiently, saying: "She is rich enough to assist me, but, alas! since she is not my Mother, she does not love me." 

Then, most gracious Virgin, since you are my Mother and you are powerful, how can I excuse you if you do not bring me comforts and grant me your help and assistance? You see, my Mother, that you are compelled to grant me all that I am asking you.

May you be exalted above Heaven and Earth, glorious Virgin and my most Holy Mother Mary, and, for the honor and glory of your Son, accept me as your child, without regard for my miseries and sins. Deliver my soul and body from all evil, and give me a share in all your virtues, especially humility. Grant me all the gifts, favors, and graces that are pleasing to the Most Holy Trinity ... Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN.