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January 24 | Be Gentle with Yourself
A.D. 1567 – 1622
Four words: Be gentle with yourself. They might be some of the wisest words you ever hear.
It doesn't mean be soft with yourself, and it doesn't mean be undisciplined. Being gentle with yourself consists of realizing your faults, failings, and weaknesses, and dealing with them appropriately. God doesn't want us to beat ourselves up. He wants us to press on and try again.
In the words of Saint Francis de Sales, "Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about redeeming them—every day begin anew."
Francis de Sales was a priest in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, and lived near a large population of Calvinists. Unlike many contemporaries who used force in trying to convert others, Francis believed in the power of love and gentleness. His famous mission in modern-day Switzerland, where he successfully brought many Calvinists back to Catholicism, was marked not by confrontation, but by patient dialogue and understanding.
His most enduring contribution, however, lies in his writings. In his Introduction to the Devout Life, Francis provides guidance on how “ordinary” people can live holy lives without being too harsh with themselves. At a time when severe penances like hair shirts and self-flagellation were rising in popularity, Saint Francis de Sales encouraged a different attitude: Be gentle with yourself.
If you can’t be gentle with yourself for your own sake, be gentle with yourself for the sake of others. If we cannot forgive ourselves, we will struggle to forgive others. And if we cannot forgive ourselves or others, we will resist even God's forgiveness.
So be gentle with yourself, and look at yourself and others the same way God looks at all his children: with gentle compassion.
In what part of my life do I need to be more gentle with myself? Is it possible I would actually grow in virtue faster if I was more gentle with myself?
I will be gentle with myself.
This reflection is brought to you from book title.
Patron Saint of: Catholic Press, Writers, and Educators
Symbols: A Book and Pen, the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Feast Day: January 24
Feast Day Shared By: Blessed Timothy Giaccardo
Canonized By: Pope Alexander VII
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