St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Jane Frances was wife, mother, nun and founder of a religious community. Her mother died when Jane was 18 months old, and her father, head of parliament at Dijon, France, became the main influence on her education. She developed into a woman of beauty and refinement, lively and cheerful in temperament. At 21 she married Baron de Chantal, by whom she had six children, three of whom died in infancy. At her castle she restored the custom of daily Mass, and was seriously engaged in various charitable works.
Jane's husband was killed after seven years of marriage, and she sank into deep dejection for four months at her family home. Her father-in-law threatened to disinherit her children if she did not return to his home. He was then 75, vain, fierce and extravagant. Jane Frances managed to remain cheerful in spite of him and his insolent housekeeper.
When she was 32, she met St. Francis de Sales who became her spiritual director, softening some of the severities imposed by her former director. She wanted to become a nun but he persuaded her to defer this decision. She took a vow to remain unmarried and to obey her director.
After three years Francis told her of his plan to found an institute of women which would be a haven for those whose health, age or other considerations barred them from entering the already established communities. There would be no cloister, and they would be free to undertake spiritual and corporal works of mercy. They were primarily intended to exemplify the virtues of Mary at the Visitation (hence their name, the Visitation nuns): humility and meekness.
The usual opposition to women in active ministry arose and Francis de Sales was obliged to make it a cloistered community following the Rule of St. Augustine. Francis wrote his famous Treatise on the Love of God for them. The congregation (three women) began when Jane Frances was 45. She underwent great sufferings: Francis de Sales died; her son was killed; a plague ravaged France; her daughter-in-law and son-in-law died. She encouraged the local authorities to make great efforts for the victims of the plague and she put all her convent's resources at the disposal of the sick.
During a part of her religious life, she had to undergo great trials of the spirit—interior anguish, darkness and spiritual dryness. She died while on a visitation of convents of the community.
It may strike some as unusual that a saint should be subject to spiritual dryness, darkness, interior anguish. We tend to think that such things are the usual condition of "ordinary" sinful people. Some of our lack of spiritual liveliness may indeed be our fault. But the life of faith is still one that is lived in trust, and sometimes the darkness is so great that trust is pressed to its limit.
St. Vincent de Paul said of Jane Frances: "She was full of faith, yet all her life had been tormented by thoughts against it. While apparently enjoying the peace and easiness of mind of souls who have reached a high state of virtue, she suffered such interior trials that she often told me her mind was so filled with all sorts of temptations and abominations that she had to strive not to look within herself...But for all that suffering her face never lost its serenity, nor did she once relax in the fidelity God asked of her. And so I regard her as one of the holiest souls I have ever met on this earth" (Butler's Lives of the Saints).
Daily Prayer - 2015-08-12
Lord, help me to be fully alive to your Holy presence.
Lord, you granted me the great gift of freedom.
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Dt 34:1-12
Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo,
Responsorial Psalm PS 66:1-3a, 5 and 8, 16-17
R. (see 20a and 10b) Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!
Alleluia 2 Cor 5:19
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 18:15-20
Jesus said to his disciples:
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Optional Memorial)
The Lord showed him all the land. (Deuteronomy 34:1)
For forty years, Moses had been bogged down in the nitty-gritty of leading God's people. Every day he had to decide whether to stay put or pick up stakes and move on. When they entered new territory, he had to find out whether its inhabitants were friendly or hostile and take appropriate action. He had to punish wrongdoers and settle disputes. By the end of his life, Moses was understandably weary.
God knew that a long struggle lay ahead before his people would be able to take full possession of the Promised Land. So he chose Moses' faithful lieutenant, Joshua, to be their leader in that struggle. He also decreed that Moses would not be permitted to enter that land. It's not clear from Scripture whether this was a punishment or an act of mercy. Most commentators see it as a punishment for Moses' one act of disobedience at Kadesh (Numbers 20:6-12). But perhaps it was an act of mercy: Moses had seen enough battles and struggles, and now it was time for him to rest and receive his reward.
Whatever the case, out of love for the friend he knew "face to face," God gave Moses a wonderful gift (Exodus 33:11). From the top of Mount Nebo, he showed Moses the whole spread of the land that his chosen people would eventually inhabit. Moses delighted in its mountains and valleys, rivers and deserts, lush vegetation and wilderness. Then, like Simeon in the New Testament, he died in peace (Luke 2:25-32).
We can easily get bogged down in the details of daily living. Today's tasks, relationships, and challenges can weary us. That's why it's a good idea to ask God to help us see the big picture every now and then. From the very beginning, he has been at work in the world, caring for his people, offering us salvation, and building a Church that reflects his kingdom. With such a big picture, how can we help but marvel at what the future holds? God will be with us always; he is determined to bring us all into his promised land!
"Father, thank you for the glimpses you give me into your grand plan for the world. I trust that you have a perfect plan for me as well!"
Psalm 66:1-3, 5, 8, 16-17