ISBN 9966-60-269-5; Publication 2022; pages 38
The Demands of an Epochal Shift
On this anniversary of the fourth centenary of his death, I have given much thought to the legacy of Saint Francis de Sales for our time. I find that his flexibility and his far-sighted vision have much to say to us. Partly by God’s gift and partly thanks to his own character, but also by his steady cultivation of lived experience, Francis perceived clearly that the times were changing. On his own, he might never have imagined that those changes
represented so great an opportunity for the preaching of the Gospel. The Word of God that he had loved from his youth now opened up before him new and unexpected horizons in a rapidly changing world.
That same task awaits us in this, our own age of epochal change. We are challenged to be a Church that is outward-looking and free of all worldliness, even as we live in this world, share people’s lives and journey with them in attentive listening and acceptance. That is what Francis de Sales did when he discerned the events of his times with the help of God’s grace. Today he bids us set aside undue concern for ourselves, for our structures and for what society thinks about us, and consider instead the real spiritual needs and expectations of our people. In our own time too, it is helpful to revisit some of the crucial decisions he made, so that we for our part can respond to today’s changes with the wisdom born of the Gospel.