I’ve Been Stalked by a Saint, in a Good Way
I think we’ve all experienced this: a saint who’s persistent in leading us to Jesus. That saint for me is Francis de Sales.
Francis was born to a family of high prestige in 1567. Although Francis’ father desired for him to go into law or politics, Francis desired to be a priest. His vocation became apparent one day as he was horseback riding, his sword and scabbard falling on the ground three times in the shape of a cross. He entered seminary and was ordained in 1593.
Francis lived during the spread of Calvinism, and he had a strong desire to reveal the truths of the Catholic Church to those who were far from the faith. He began writing pamphlets explaining the truths of the Catholic faith and sliding them underneath people’s doors, resulting in 40,000 Calvinists returning to the Catholic Church!
Thus began Francis’ popularity as a writer who spoke truth with gentleness and sincerity. He believed that every person is called to holiness, no matter their vocation, most notably expressing this in his popular book, Introduction to the Devout Life. Aside from his writings, he was also known for his spiritual direction, even developing a way to communicate with a deaf man in order to be his spiritual director.
Francis was declared a saint in 1923 and is a Doctor of the Church. His feast day is January 24th.
I noticed St. Francis “stalking” me in the summer of 2019 as I was preparing to start St. Anne’s novena. I was wrestling with my desire to be in a relationship and heard that this novena would lead me to my future spouse. I was ready for a relationship that would last, that would leave me feeling whole instead of broken.
I heard the Lord’s gentle words before starting the novena: I don’t want you to be disappointed if you get to the end of this novena and your spouse is not in front of you.
I dug deeper into my heart. What was I really searching for?
I remembered a conversation with a friend who told me that she asked Jesus to romance her heart. I had my answer: I desired Jesus to romance my heart, to pursue me. I was ready to start the novena.
One day of the novena, I was ending a rosary by calling on my favorite saints to pray for me. I felt St. Francis de Sales asking me to call on him, and although I knew nothing about him, I decided to ask him to pray for me.
Later that day, I was writing about John Henry Newman, and I learned that Newman loved the phrase “heart speaks to heart,” which were words spoken by St. Francis! Then I learned St. Francis is the patron saint of Catholic writers and the Catholic press. Not only is writing about Catholic topics a passion of mine, but St. Francis had encountered me as I was writing for the Catholic press!
My sister surprised me the next day with a quote on a bookmark that she found: Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you. –St. Francis de Sales
That’s when it all clicked for me. Jesus was pursuing my heart through St. Francis.
Almost a month after meeting St. Francis, I felt Jesus pursuing me profoundly through a book by Fr. Michael Gaitley called Consoling the Heart of Jesus. The book changed my life and introduced my heart to Jesus’ fully Divine and fully human Heart. All this time, it was a relationship with Him that I desired, a relationship with Him that would leave me feeling whole instead of broken.
As I’ve recalled these events of asking Jesus to pursue me and being led to Him by St. Francis, I’ve become convinced that St. Francis was the one who led me to Jesus’ Heart. It all became clear to me when I stumbled across a quote from St. Francis, referring to the religious community he co-founded, “Our congregation is the work of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Our dying Savior gave birth to us by a wound in His Sacred Heart.”
As if that wasn’t enough, recently, a book titled Behold This Heart: St Francis de Sales and Devotion to the Sacred Heart was published. What I had hoped for had been true; St. Francis really did know Jesus’ Sacred Heart.
I often think of St. Francis’ words, “Heart speaks to heart.” It was Francis’ heart that spoke to my heart that led me to Jesus’ Heart. St. Francis continues to speak to my heart.
Most recently, St Francis has met me in my brokenness with his prayer of abandonment. One line in the prayer reads: With my whole heart, in spite of my heart, do I receive this cross I feared so much. It is the cross of Your choice, the cross of Your love. I feel St. Francis’ gentle reminder that Jesus has lovingly given me my cross, as an invitation to suffer with Him.
Jesus used St. Francis to bring me to His Sacred Heart, and I’m certain that Jesus has a plan to draw you deeper into His Heart. May we follow in St. Francis de Sales’ footsteps and receive the crosses in our lives as an invitation to enter more deeply into Jesus’ Sacred Heart that never stops beating for us. St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!
—Kirsten Bublitz/ Guest Blogger