St. Francis de Sales on speaking the Truth

December 20, 2021 • 3 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 82
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

I replied:

But truth is always truth in whatever language it may be couched, and in whatever sense it may be taken.

In support of this assertion I quoted the words spoken by St. Paul to Timothy:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears, and will, indeed, turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned into fables. [1 Tim. iv. 2, 4.]

Our Blessed Father replied:

The whole force of that apostolic lesson lies in the phrase: In all patience and doctrine. Doctrine signifies truth, and this truth must be spoken with patience.

When I use the word patience, I am trying to put before you an attitude of mind which is not one of confident expectation, that truth will always meet with a hearty welcome, and even some degree of acclamation; but an attitude of mind which is on the contrary prepared to meet with repulse, reprobation, rejection.

Surely, seeing that the Son of God was set for a sign of contradiction, we cannot be surprised if His doctrine, which is the truth, is marked with the same seal! Surprised! Nay, of necessity it must be so.

Consider the many false constructions and murmurings to which the sacred truths preached by our Saviour during His life on earth were exposed!

Was not this one of the reproaches addressed by Him to the Jews: If I say the truth you believe me not.

Was not our Lord Himself looked upon as an impostor, a seditious person, a blasphemer, one possessed by the devil? Did they not even take up stones to cast at him? Yet, He cursed not those who cursed Him; but repaid their maledictions with blessings, possessing His soul in patience.

Blessed Francis wrote to me on this same subject a letter, which has since been printed among his works, in which he expressed himself as follows:

Everyone who wishes to instruct others in the way of holiness must be prepared to bear with their injustice and unreasonableness, and to be rewarded with ingratitude.

Oh! how happy will you be when men slander you, and say all manner of evil of you, hating the truth which you offer them.

Rejoice with much joy, for so much the greater is your reward in Heaven. It is a royal thing to be calumniated for having done well, and to be stoned in a good cause.

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