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Humility, humility, humility

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Humility, humility, humility

St Francis de Sales was brilliantly clever and had a brilliant doctorate to prove it.  He was from a privileged background and easily charmed all whom he encountered.  He was told, even before he took a step towards ordination, that there would be a mitre awaiting him one day if he were to become a priest.

After cutting his teeth reconverting the Chablais (60,000 inhabitants!), he became bishop of Geneva and went from strength to strength (metaphorically, not physically), inspiring through preaching, writing and personal example.  He was so phenomenally productive that when reading his biography, one wonders how on earth he fitted it all in!  Even in the last year of St Francis de Sales’ life, writes Butler, ‘The letters continued to pour out at the rate of twenty or thirty a day; he preached constantly, revised the Visitation constitution, and somehow found more time for contemplative prayer.’

I’ve read a good deal about St Francis de Sales and read a lot (though a small fraction) of his writing, but it is the last three words of this dazzlingly brilliant man that elucidate all he ever said and did.  On his deathbed, he was asked by a nun to give a final piece of advice.  No longer able to speak, St Francis took a piece of paper and wrote ‘humility, humility, humility’.

St Francis de Sales, pray for us, that we may always practise humility in thought, word and deed.

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