St. Francis de Sales’s Guide to Starting Your Day Right


In his everyday spirituality, St. Francis de Sales counsels us to begin at the beginning. Making God a part of that first conscious­ness of the new day starts things out on the right footing. Thus, St Francis’ Spiritual Directory opens with this exhortation:
First of all on awakening, we are to direct our minds completely to God by some holy thought such as the following:
Sleep is the image of death and awakening that of the resurrection.
Not merely as the first among many things to do each day, but first of all the devout person thinks of God, whose grace­ful action makes awakening possible (with the aid of an alarm clock to make it timely!). That we are alive for another day is the gift each morning brings. Recognizing the source of that gift by directing our mind to do so is the appropriate response to such a gracious gift. It may take some practice, but it will prove beneficial to make this the first thought of the day, instead of awakened.reacting with annoyance or reluctance at having been
Beyond an existential awareness, the practice of directing our minds to God corresponds to and fa­cilitates a positive psychology. Experience shows that the mood with which we begin the day tends to color the entire day. What Francis de Sales understood is that start­ing the day with God in mind leads to keeping God in mind throughout the day.
We may think of that voice that will ring out on the last day:To fashion that mindfulness of the divine gift of our awak­ening each day, Francis suggests we adopt biblical images and thoughts. In this, he moves us beyond sound psychology to the adoption of a spiritual or theological understanding of the new day. Although a seemingly benign beginning to the day, the act of getting out of


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