Thursday, January 24, 2013

Patronal Feast of Saint Francis de Sales: Sanctity in Christ fulfills the gift of human life

With every breath we take we enjoy the gift of life. With every breath He bestows, God invites us to the fulness of life in heaven through personal holiness in Christ. "This poor life is only a journey to the happy life to come" as Saint Francis de Sales, our parish patron reminds us.

On this occasion we celebrate the way in which our patron, Saint Francis, used his gift of life to the fullest by pursuing his vocation to holiness as we observe his memorial on the Sunday closest to his feast day of January 24th. We also observe the March for Life on Friday, January 25th, when Catholics, other Christians and men and women of good will witness together by marching in Washington and numerous other places all over this nation on the anniversary of the legalization of murder of the unborn through the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.

Respect and love for the right to life of every human being is a requirement of the law of Christ and necessary for our salvation.

"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.'
'My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.' " (CCC2270)
These themes come together for us as we ponder the gift of human life, acknowledge God as the Giver, and seek through Christ to understand the beauty of this gift and the ways in which we grow in the life and love of Christ through holiness of life.

Our parish "is named for a man who lived more than 400 years ago, but whose lessons are still timely and practical for today's world. St. Francis de Sales is admired throughout the Church for his great sanctity, learning, missionary zeal, gentleness, and understanding of the human heart. Scholar, writer, pastor, spiritual guide for souls, diplomat, bishop, and Doctor of the Church, he is best described as a Christian Humanist, a potent spiritual force for creating a spirituality admirably suited to those in every walk of life, especially the laity, the common person. No one could have imagined at the time of his death that the wisdom and teachings of this amazing human being would live on to touch the lives of countless people today. Known as "The Gentleman Saint," his spirit of optimism, hope, freedom and confidence in God's love prompts others to please God by doing everything - big or small enthusiastically and well." (Source: DeSales University)

The human heart, emblematic of the gift of life, beats in the chest of every human person. The ways of the heart, then, can teach us love and compassion for every human person. Understanding that heart gave Saint Francis de Sales a wisdom which enabled him to live his vocation as priest and bishop to a heroic degree. He gave of himself for others as he sought to understand them in order to both love them and serve their salvation by preaching the Faith and helping others to love it and live it in all walks of life.

Many of us locally will March for Life in Washington, DC, on Friday for others who cannot yet do anything for themselves because their hearts still beat within the wombs of their mothers. These unborn boys and girls have no one to speak for them and depend entirely upon us, we who walk in the footsteps of Saint Francis de Sales and all the saints, those who loved and served the least among us according to the teachings of Christ. And there is no one who can better be described as "least" among us than the unborn boy or girl.

With the recent "imperial edict" handed down from Washington, which gives Catholics a year to prepare to violate their consciences in regard to funding abortion, contraception and sterilization in health insurance plans, the cause for human life affects us all in a more urgent way. Our religious freedom, the God-given right to do what is right and good at all times according to our consciences formed by the truth, is under attack like never before.

As we walk the path of our life let us pray and fast for and serve the cause of all who are the last and least or our brethren whatever our vocation in Christ. In this way the breath we take and the actions we make will both serve our vocation to holiness and our salvation in imitation of Saint Francis de Sales, our holy patron, and the good of all of our brothers and sisters, both those known and unknown to us.

Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.


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