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Confession: I have often come across the following (possible) Saint Francis de Sales’ quote –
Everyone of us needs half an hour of prayer every day, except when we are busy—then we need an hour.
and instantly, each time I come across it, I think –
“well, clearly he was not a mom”.
Honestly, I don’t even know if Saint Francis de Sales actually said that.
But, after a very rough weekend, I sat down with my Stay Connected Journal and after reading a lot of what Saint Francis de Sales did say in his work, Introduction to a Devout Life, became ever so thankful for his wisdom and advice.
I had a pretty rough weekend.
I cried – a lot. I let worry get the best of me.
To summarize what could be a long story:
Friday night thoughts: “I have the messiest house in America even though I tell my children I can’t play because I’m cleaning all day.”
Saturday night thoughts: “Remember a few hours ago when we took our one-year-old twins to Mass on Saturday evening thinking it was a good idea because snow was coming and it would make our Sunday easier. And then after Mass, the Pastor, who always says how much he enjoys hearing children at Mass, suggested we turn the lights on in the chapel and sit in there the next time we all come to Mass together. Since, ya know, people are starting to complain. . . . Oh my goodness the most patient priest in the world is overwhelmed with my lack of parenting skills combined with my very loud toddlers . . .”
Sunday night thoughts: “I took my 6 year old and the twins to a friends house for a small get together. My six year old didn’t follow another adults directions – both the 6 year old and I started crying before we left.”
Sometimes I wonder if God is using me so that other moms see me and can say, “well, I’m doing better than her at least”!
Then I start wondering if I should give up the blogging and Catholics Online business so that I can be a better wife and mother.
After my husband and I get the kids to bed on Sunday night, my phone dies.
All I can think is, “I need to sit on the couch and calm down before I go to bed to start this circus all over again tomorrow.”
So, I pick up my Stay Connected Journal and turn to the next chapter. This chapter focuses on Saint Francis De Sales work titled Introduction to the Devout Life.
I know nothing about this work and very little about St. Francis De Sales. It’s a little embarrassing how little I know about him. I went to a college named after him and he is the patron saint of writers.
But this saint seems to be a heavenly friend of mine in some way, dating way back to a moment in high school.
When I was a senior, we had a retreat in which all of us were given a prayer on a business card with the following quote on it:
“The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day.
Either he will shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”
I went on to go to Allentown College of St. Francis De Sales. I kept that card in my wallet for years. It was many, many years after I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree that I discovered this was actually a St. Francis De Sales quote.
I remember thinking wow. All those years I was going to a school named after him, carrying these words of wisdom in my wallet and I never knew they were his words.
So there I sat, on a Sunday night, hoping that reading about this saint would help me temporarily forget my weekend.
The first part of each chapter invites you to simply write what is on your heart.
I am frustrated that the house is always a mess and I don’t feel successful at anything.”
“I cried all weekend . . . I cried in front of new friends”
” I don’t have control over my children and they are young” (clearly I was worried about what is going to happen when they are older if I don’t feel like a good parent now!)
So to recap, I wrote:
I’m frustrated, worried, sad and worried again.
Then I start reading selections from Introduction to the Devout Life in the Stay Connected Journal:
- 1st excerpt:
We must not be disturbed by our imperfections . . . we cannot fight them unless we see them, or overcome them unless we face them . . . It only remains for us, therefore, not to lose courage. Fortunate for us, we are always victorious in this war, as long as we are willing to fight.”
- 3rd excerpt:
After finishing your mental prayer . . .keep silence for a while and quietly transfer your heart from prayer to other duties. . . . Since both prayer and the duties of your state in life are both in conformity with God’s will, you must pass from one to the other with a devout and quiet mind.”
- 4th excerpt:
We should tend to our worldly concerns with care and diligence, not with solicitude, worry or anxiety. Care and diligence . . . are weakened by worry and certainly by anxiety. Be attentive, of course, to all the matters God commits to your care. Since God has confided them to you, he wishes you to take good care of them.Don’t worry about them because worry clouds reason and good judgement. . .
- 5th excerpt:
Bear patiently the slight injuries . . . that daily come your way . .. bad humor from a loved one, this contempt or scorn, the loss of a glove . . .the little inconveniences . . all trivial trials when accepted and embraced with love are highly pleasing to God’s mercy.
- And the last excerpt:
Oppose any tendency to sadness . . . persevere. . . It is good to occupy ourselves in exterior works and to very them as much as possible. This diverts the soul from depressing subjects and purifies and warms our spirits.
As I read this chapter and re-read it, I realized I need a summary of it to guide my daily life.
I started to think, what if I asked St. Francis de Sales how I could have a better day. I imagine he would say:
- Pray. Make it the very first thing you do. If that is impossible, make it one of the first things you do.
- Keep that quiet, calm prayer like manner as you begin to write your to-do list. Know that God has confided these matters to you and wants you to take good care of them. Be diligent. If a worrisome thought creeps in, know that it is not from God. Be aware that worry clouds reason and do not give into those thoughts. Look at the list. Worry is not on it. Move on.
- Know that little inconveniences will surface. These are opportunities to offer to God. Bear patiently all the things. Pray more.
- If a sad or worrisome thought comes across your mind, think of something happy or do something that is work that needs to be done.
- Pray again. Know that everyone makes mistakes. Simply be willing to keep trying to overcome your weaknesses. Rest in knowing that God is your everlasting Father and He loves you, will always love you and will give you the strength to continue to persevere.
Want a free printable? Click here! Recipe for a Better Day