Saint of the Day – St. Jane Frances de Chantal
St. Jane Frances de Chantal was born in France in 1582, the daughter of the president of the Parliment of Burgundy. She married Baron de Chantal and had 6 children, three of whom died shortly after birth. She became a widow at the age of 28 as the result of a shooting accident. She was heart-broken and vowed never to marry again. She lived with her children in the home of her father-in-law for seven years before she was allowed to visit her father in 1604.
On that visit, she met St. Francis de Sales and he became her spiritual director. By 1610, in collaboration with Francis de Sales, she founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, for widows and lay women who were not called to such strict forms of religious life as were common at the time.
One description of the order states that its charism “combines gentleness with a valiant spirit; initiative with communal support; dedication to prayer with presence in the world; a contemplative life with an apostolic dimension. The order’s motto is “Vive Jésus” (French for “Live Jesus”).”
Visitationist sisters work with widows and women in poor health. They also have some schools. Their life includes a strong contemplative element.
One of St. Jane Frances de Chantal’s teachings to her sisters is as follows:
Fidelity toward God consists in being perfectly resigned to his holy will, in enduring everything that his goodness allows in our lives, and in carrying out all our duties, especially that of prayer, with love and for love. In prayer we must converse very familiarly with our Lord, concerning our little needs, telling him what they are, and remaining submissive to anything he may wish to do with us…
We should go to prayer with deep humility and an awareness of our nothingness. We must invoke the help of the Holy Spirit and that of our good angel, and then remain still in God’s presence, full of faith that he is more in us than we are in ourselves.
There is no danger if our prayer is without words or reflection because the good success of prayer depends neither on words nor on study. It depends upon the simple raising of our minds to God, and the more simple and stripped of feeling it is, the surer it is.
We must never dwell on our sins during prayer. Regarding our offenses, a simple humbling of our soul before God, without a thought of this offense or that, is enough…such thoughts act as distractions.
Saint Jeanne de Chantal, from