The Attributes of an Apostle - Patience and Perseverance
St Francis de Sales, who brought 60,000 lost sheep back to the Catholic faith, didn't get them back overnight. Nor was it an easy task for him. Catholics were looked upon with hatred and fear by the local community in Chablais who had been prejudiced against them for years.
In fear of his life, Francis would travel at night to move across the region. He would often be thrown out of his lodgings and made to sleep out in the open at the mercy of the elements. On one occasion a local farmer set his dogs on Francis and the poor man had to spend the night in a tree, secured by his belt.
He didn't face a warm reception from the few Catholics that lived in the town either. During one of his homilies, not liking what he was saying, the whole congregation walked out in tandem. Many times he celebrated mass to an empty church. Yet through all this, Francis kept his cool and continued to minister to people with patience and perseverance.
Four years into his ministry, people slowly began to be won over by this kind and gentle man and a slow trickle of people began to return to the Church. Within a few months the trickle had turned into a stream and then a flood. By the time Francis died, almost the entire population of Chablais had become Catholic again.
If we wish to bring people back to the faith we need to understand that it is not going to be an easy task. We will face a lot of opposition, many times from people within the Catholic Church itself who don't seem to fully understand that the goal is building God's kingdom and not their own, and therefore engage in destructive, petty politics.
I was interviewed for a German magazine last year by a reporter who asked me if I faced a lot of persecution from people of other faiths, given the fact I was living in a non-Christian country. I didn't have the heart to tell them that all the persecution came from the Christians themselves; the others left me alone.
We have to be patient and loving with such people and with everybody else who persecutes us, believing that God can work the same miracles through us that He worked through St. Francis de Sales if we persevere until the end.
Next: The Attributes of an Apostle - Love
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