The effects of affability, gravity, and devotion in a saintly soul

March 4, 2022 • 2 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 203
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

HIS GRAVITY AND AFFABILITY.

Grace produced in him that wonderful and perfectly harmonious blending of gravity and affability, which was perhaps his most distinguishing characteristic.

There was in his whole demeanour and in the very expression of his face a lofty and dignified beauty which inspired reverence and even a sort of fear—that is, such fear as engenders respect and makes any undue familiarity impossible.

Yet, at the same time he displayed such sweetness and gentleness as to encourage all who approached him. No one, however conscious of his own want of attractiveness, feared a repulse from the holy Bishop, and all, feeling sure of a welcome, were only eager to please and satisfy him.

For my own part I must confess that when I succeeded in doing anything which he was able to praise, and which consequently gave him pleasure, I was so happy and elated that I felt as if I were raised to the seventh heaven! Indeed, had he not taught me to refer everything to God, many of my actions would, I fear, have stopped half-way thither.

People of high standing in society, accustomed even to come into close contact with royalty itself, have assured me that, in the presence of our Saint, they felt a subtle influence guarding, restraining, elevating them as no other companionship, however noble and distinguished, could ever do. It was as though in him they saw some reflection of the all-penetrating intelligence of God Himself, lighting up the inmost recesses of their heart, and laying bare its mysteries.

Yet his affability was no less marvellous, making itself felt the instant you came in contact with him. It was not like a quality or grace acquired; it was not in any way apart from his own personality, it was as if he were affability personified. Hence that power of winning over others, of making himself all things to all men, of gaining the support of so many in his plans and schemes, all of which had but one aim and object, namely, the increase of the glory of God and the promotion of the salvation of souls.

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