St. Francis De Sales (1567-1622) was Bishop of Geneva and a spiritual master. His writings are especially conducive to those living the world. He, with Jane Frances de Chantal, founded the Visitandines (Salesian Sisters or The Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary), an order for widows and the unmarried, not as austere as other women’s orders of the day (such as the Poor Clares and Carmelites). St. Francis would often visit the sisters and offer short, informal conferences on living out the virtues in a straightforward way. On the feast of St. Francis, I offer here a short excerpt of his Spiritual Conferences published in English as The Art of Loving God: Simple Virtues fo the Christian Life. Here, in Conference XII entitled, “Be untroubled by public opinion,” St. Francis discusses the virtue of simplicity:
Consideration of what will be said or thought of you is contrary to simplicity. This virtue, as we have said, looks only to pleasing God, not creatures at all, except insofar as the love of God requires it. After the simple soul has done the action that it considers it ought to do, it thinks no more about it. And if it should occur to the person to wonder what will be said or thought of him, the soul checks the thought instantly, because it will allow nothing to divert it from its one aim, namely, of dwelling on the thought of God alone, that it may love Him more and more. The consideration of creatures has no power to move the soul, for it refers all to the Creator….
You ask how you must observe simplicity in conversation and recreation. I reply: as in all other actions, although in this particular one there should be a holy freedom and frankness in conversing upon such subjects as serve to foster a spirit of joy and recreation…
St. Francis de Sales, o.p.n.