St. Francis de Sales’ love for the poor

January 18, 2022 • 2 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 138
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

FRANCIS’ LOVE OF THE POOR.

To love our neighbour is not only to wish him well, but also to do him all the good that it is in our power to do. If we fall short of this, we deserve the reproach of St. James, addressed to those who, though they have ample means for giving material aid to the poor, content themselves with bare words of comfort.

The love of Blessed Francis for the poor was so intense that in their case he seemed to become a respecter of persons, preferring them to the rich, both in spiritual and in temporal matters. He was like a good physician who in visiting the sick shows the most tender solicitude for those afflicted with the most terrible diseases and lingers longest by their bedsides.

One day I had to wait my turn to go to confession to him for a very long time, he being engaged in hearing a poor blind beggar woman. When I afterwards expressed my surprise at the length of her confession, he said: “Ah! She sees far more clearly the way to go to God than many whose eyesight is otherwise perfect.”

On another occasion, sailing with him on the lake of Geneva, I heard the boatman calling him “Father,” and addressing him with corresponding familiarity. “Listen,” he said to me, “to those good people. They are calling me their Father; and, indeed, I do believe they love me as such. Oh! how much more real happiness they give me than those who call me ‘My Lord.’”

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