At his ordination, Don Bosco resolved to be guided by the "charity and sweetness of St Francis de Sales". When he founded our congregation, he chose this gentle saint as its patron, naming it the Society of St Francis de Sales - the Salesians. We celebrate his feast on 24th January.
Francis followed the early church in believing that we are all called to holiness and sanctity, whatever our role or station in life. He offered spiritual direction to lay men and women to guide them in their everyday lives, and many of his writings also had this aim. This idea of a "universal call to holiness" was important in the teachings of the Church following the Second Vatican Council.
Working in a Calvinist area during the Reformation, Francis won many people back to the Church by gentle persuasion and patience, saying that "you catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than a barrel full of vinegar." Don Bosco's approach in respecting and befriending the young people he wanted to help was rooted in this concept.
Francis recognised that gentleness must come from within: "Gentleness towards ourselves makes us moderate in our emotions and feelings toward ourselves; regulate all violent, impetuous and passionate thoughts. Gentleness must permeate our whole being, interior and exterior." He knew that being too hard on ourselves leads to impatience and harshness to others, and gave us some excellent advice that highly relevant to our driven, modern lives:
"Have patience with all things - but first with yourself".
St Francis de Sales: August 21, 1567 - December 28, 1622