When thinking about the saints who lived our Catholic faith most radically, many people immediately think of St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, or St. Anthony of Egypt ~ saints known for their great asceticism. But St. Francis de Sales, he is much more known as the saint of meekness, gentleness, and humility.
St. Francis de Sales lived a life of great asceticism and poverty, but his emphasis was primarily on the interior rather than the exterior. He focused mainly on a TOTAL renunciation of self, in loving trust and surrender to God’s Will and Good Pleasure. This interior asceticism, over time, strips away from a soul its own will, desires, and, of course, self-seeking. However, this self-abandonment is to be done in a gentle, humble, and meek way in keeping with His motto, “Ask for nothing, refuse nothing, desire nothing.” To St. Francis de Sales, a Visitandine is the “Will of God in her.” Rest assured that this utter surrender to God is not a form of Quietism or Passivism. Our will and intention are, indeed, engaged ~ on God, Others, and His expressive Will.
Above all, St. Francis de Sales wants us to be contemplatives, women of deep prayer. His writings explain clearly that we are to live our horarium faithfully and plan our day’s work. But, when God intervenes throughout the course of our day ~ through our superiors, the unforeseen events that occur, and the annoyances that inevitably crop up while living and working in community ~ we lift our eyes, hearts, minds, and wills to God and say, as Our Lady did, “Fiat; your Will be done.” As easy as it sounds, it is very difficult, and it takes most of us our entire lives to yield our wills and fully embrace God’s Will, especially His Permissive Will.