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Francois de Laval, a good shepherd of God’s Love

Salt + Light Media

Thursday, April 3, 2014

By Katrisha Villarante
What do the Eucharist, living to share the Gospel and May 6th have in common?
Saint Francois de Laval, the first Bishop of Quebec. Born in France in 1623, Francois, despite family trials, became a priest and was sent to Canada. Living his vocation to the fullest, he accomplished many great apostolic works in Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres and Montreal. With an insatiable desire to win more hearts for God, he also developed a great relationship with First Nations peoples.
It is said that his life was lived like the disciples of Emmaus, constantly seeking Jesus and looking to understand the purpose of his life by turning to the Gospel. Having joined “The Good Friends” while back in France, he was touched to encounter Jesus, specifically in the Eucharist and devoted his life to sharing this practice and spreading the good news of the Gospel. On May 6th we celebrate the Blessed’s feast day.
What did Francois de Laval teach us?
Adapted and summarized from a document of de Laval’s writings to a group of missionaries, his points are still applicable in today’s society. He advises: 
To be filled with the spirit of God. That it animate our words and our hearts.
To be prudent to put order in things, by enlightening understanding, or bending the will; all that does not aim to that end are lost.
The devil roams like a roaring lion, so be vigilant against his attempts with care, kindness and love.
 To have nothing in our lives and morals that may be contrary to what we say, and may cause us to lose the hearts for God we want to gain.
Win affection through kindness, patience and charity, to win hearts for God. A word of bitterness, an impatient gesture or even an irksome look can ruin in a moment what had taken a long time to accomplish.
The spirit of God requires a peaceful meditative heart, not an anxious or inattentive heart. Avoid things that are contrary to holy and joyful modesty.
How can we be like him?
First and foremost, Francois was a seeker. A seeker of Christ. Due to the customs of his time, his role of responsibility to his family meant he should not have become a priest. However, he prayed fervently, and sought the advice of priests and even lay people to aid in his decision. He recognized that he could not rely in his own judgment for such a serious commitment. His humility, displayed beautifully just before entering the priesthood, paved the way for a lifetime of heroic trust in our Lord.
Like Saint Francois, we should seek Christ. And we can be certain to find Him if we seek Him with a humble heart, acknowledging that we cannot do things on our own.
In seeking, just as God promises, Saint Francois found. He was a great advocate of the power of the Eucharist as a very intimate meeting with our Lord. He always had a fresh view in receiving the Eucharist, especially as a priest with the closeness during consecration. His other favorite means to find Christ was to delve into the Gospel. He even admitted that God had given him the grace to see all that happens to him in this life as a result of His Providence. The word of God filled him so abundantly that the spirit would overflow and he could not help but to share this spirit with anyone and everyone he could.
Learning from Saint Francois’ example, we can go frequently to the Eucharist and take time to read the Gospel meditatively to hear the word of God as it applies to our own personal circumstance. By doing this, we will surely find Christ before us.
Love = Charity
He wasted no time in bringing Christ to others. He was quick to spread the good news, but he started where people needed it the most. It is said that no sooner had he stepped off he boat from France than he rushed to the hospital to help the poor. Nothing stopped him from settling into a corner of their room, helping them make their beds every day and performing all of the most demeaning services for the sick. As a person in love with God he was graced with a sense of urgency and was able to accomplish more than he had ever dreamed of.
When we have love in our hearts, we can’t help but to share it with others. We can be like Saint Francois by remaining in love, by selflessly serving others, bringing Christ everywhere we go.
The fruits of Francois’ labors
As a poor priest allowing God to guide him and use him to fulfill His will, Francois was able to establish many means of formation for the people in the East of Canada. In Quebec City he erected a Minor Seminary for young boys and a Major Seminary for candidates to the priesthood. He founded Grande Ferme, a school that taught skilled trades. And he also commissioned the development of Cote-de-Beaupre, a convent used as a school for girls.
Today people from around the world are in contact with the Francois de Laval Centre in the Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica Cathedral, where they work to tell the story of his life, work and spirituality.
Ask for his intercession
Let’s come together on May 6th to celebrate Blessed Francois de Laval. We can ask him to pray for us that we develop a greater trust in our Lord’s plans for our lives, and that we draw closer to Jesus so we may be better proclaimers of the Gospel. 
Katrisha Villarante is a S+L Blog Contributor from the West Coast.  She is part of the community at St. Clare’s parish in Coquitlam, British Columbia.  Katrisha is continuing her studies at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and in her spare time blogs, jogs, and gets involved in activities at Vancouver’s Crestwell Centre, a centre for young women run by Opus Dei.  While rediscovering her faith she developed a passion for Church History and learning about little-known traditions and devotions.
photo courtesy of CNS
Read more about Francois de Laval in Clothed in the World of God: Canadian Saints, Blesseds and Venerables published by Novalis.

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