In Service with the Apostles


So go forth very bravely with perfect trust in the goodness of him who calls you to this holy task.

When has anyone ever hoped in the Lord and been disappointed?  Mistrust of your own powers is good as long as it is the groundwork of confidence in God's power;  but if you are ever in any way discouraged, anxious, sad, or melancholy I entreat you to cast this away as the temptation of temptations;  and never allow your spirit to argue or reply in any way to any anxiety or downheartedness to which you may feel inclined. 

Remember this simple truth which is beyond all doubt:  God allows many difficulties to beset those who want to serve him but he never lets them sink beneath the burden as long as they trust in him.  This, in a few words, is a complete summary of what you most need:  never under any pretext whatsoever yield to the temptation of discouragement, not even on the plausible pretext of humility.

Humility . . . may refuse office but it does not persist stubbornly in its refusal;  and being employed by those in power, it does not enter into any further argument about its worthiness, but believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, as does charity;  it is always simple.  Holy humility is the great partner of obedience, and in the same way as it never presumes to think itself capable of anything whatever, it always believes obedience capable of everything;  and as true simplicity humbly refuses office, so true humility simply does what it is told.




Saint Francis de Sales, T.O.M., A.O.F.M. Cap. "In Service with the Apostles." from St. Francis de Sales: Selected Letters translated by Elisabeth Stopp (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960).

Note: St. Francis de Sales is out of print. This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in January 2014.


Saint Francis de Sales, T.O.M., A.O.F.M. Cap., (1567-1622) was a Bishop of Geneva who became noted for his deep faith and his gentle approach to the religious divisions in his land resulting from the Protestant Reformation. He is known also for his writings on the topic of spiritual direction and spiritual formation, particularly the Introduction to the Devout Life and the Treatise on the Love of God. Besides these two well-known books he wrote many pamphlets and carried on a vast correspondence. Some of his devotional writings have been collected into Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady, Sermons of St. Francis de Sales For Lent, Sermons of St. Francis de Sales On Prayer. For his writings, he has been named patron of the Catholic Press. His writings, filled with his characteristic gentle spirit, are addressed to lay people. He wants to make them understand that they too are called to be saints.

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