Be who you are and be that well.” – St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)

From the first time I read these words from St. Francis de Sales, the patron of Catholic writers and journalists, I knew I had found a friend. In honor of his upcoming feast day on Jan. 24, I’d like to highlight what a 21st century suburban Denver working mother of two can learn from a 17th century French bishop.

Patience: Francis was a patient man. He knew he wanted to be a priest for 13 years before he said anything to anyone. Throughout his life, he always waited for God’s will to be crystal clear before he made a move. That once included God knocking him off his horse three times to get his point across.

For a heart open to God’s will, and patience when things don’t go the way I’d hoped or expected: St. Francis, pray for me.

Think outside the box: He spent three years trudging through the Swiss countryside with his cousin trying to convert Calvinists back to Catholicism. When no one would listen, Francis started writing his sermons out by hand and slipping them under people’s doors. It’s estimated that he converted 72,000 people to Catholicism.

To be genuine and effective in all that I say and write, personally and professionally: St. Francis, pray for me.

We’re all called to holiness: In his day, holiness was thought to be reserved for monks and nuns. Father de Sales opened up his spiritual direction to lay people.  He taught that everyone is called to sainthood, that everyone has a place in the Church.

That the Holy Spirit guide my thoughts, words and actions every day: St. Francis, pray for me.

Eat the elephant one bite at a time: St. Francis provided most of his spiritual direction though letter-writing: one letter in—one letter out. When asked how this process tested his patience, he responded: “I intend neither to hurry or worry… I shall answer as many as I can. Tomorrow I shall do the same and so I shall go on until I have finished.”

For perseverance in my duties at home and at work when I'm feeling snowed under: St. Francis, pray for me.

Depend on God: Francis understood that people are busy. Simple, every-day life can entail a lot of time and energy, and therefore, create distractions from what is important. He suggested that busy people retire to the solitude of their own hearts to talk to God even when “outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others.”

To remember to talk to God first and foremost, and trust all my worries to him: St. Francis, pray for me.

I consider St. Francis a special guardian and protector in my life, a trusted intecessor on my behalf. As a newspaper reporter, blogger, wife, mother and person in the pews: St. Francis, pray for me!

Copyright 2011 Julie Filby