Honey or Vinegar? Print
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 19 January 2012 08:39

“Speak with warmth and with devotion, with simplicity, candor, and trust... The words need to be inflamed, not through yelling or oversized gestures, but rather through inner feeling; it needs to come from the heart rather than the lips... The heart speaks to the heart, and the tongue speaks only to the ears.” Sermons are good if they change the lives of those who hear them."


Saint Francis de Sales was famous among his contemporaries for his holiness, which was also expressed through good manners. “His biographies speak of Francis as a perfect gentleman with everyone, whether they were noble, learned, or simple people,” says Father Scudu, “a man who always had a smile for the people he spoke with, who treated everyone with kindness and friendliness; who, when arguing with his Protestant adversaries, never used harsh, threatening, arrogant, or humiliating words. His adversaries came away from Francis perhaps unconvinced by his theological arguments, but won over all the same by his always-respectful behavior.” He himself summarized the importance of good manners in his own pastoral work, saying: “You attract more flies with a drop of honey than a barrel of vinegar.”


But what did Francis de Sales know?  He had only gone in on foot, by himself, and re-evangelized an entire area of alpine France where every Catholic church had been padlocked for 60 years because its ruler was Protestant.  He was only a bishop and the man whom, his generation - the "generation of saints" who began the Catholic revival that transformed France and whose effect lasted 150 years - regarded as the greatest living saint.  He is only a Doctor of the Church.


Frances de Sales didn't have to deal with idiots in comboxes.  What could he possibly have to say to us?  After all, someone out there on the internet is wrong!