Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Jane Frances de Chantal, August 12,2017
The daughter of the president of the Burgundy parliament, Jane was born in Dijon, France in 1572 A.D. and married Baron de Chantal at the age of twenty. After of nine years of happy marriage, her husband died in a hunting accident. In the tradition of the holy widows, Jane folded her sufferings into prayer, devoting herself to her children’s education and serving her disagreeable father-in-law with kindness. Jane ably managed her husband’s estate to provide for the care of the poor and bereft. After the baron’s death, she embraced an austere life, caring for her children and her father-in-law. When she met Francis de Sales in 1604, she recognized him as the spiritual director God had chosen for her. Together they founded the Visitation Order in 1610 A.D. for women who did not have the stamina for the life of the traditional orders. In the place of physical mortification, the Visitation nuns devote themselves to total trust in humble and gentle service in the spirit of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. To her daughters in religion, Jane wrote many letters of reassuring directness: “Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.” By the time of her death in 1641 A.D., she had founded over sixty-five convents.
“Lord Jesus, help my unbelief! Increase my faith and trust in your saving power. Give me confidence and perseverance, especially in prayer. And help me to bring your healing love and truth to those I meet”. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.
Moses said to the people:
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.
Drill them into your children.
Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.
Bind them at your wrist as a sign
and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.
Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
“When the LORD, your God, brings you into the land which he swore
to your fathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
that he would give you,
a land with fine, large cities that you did not build,
with houses full of goods of all sorts that you did not garner,
with cisterns that you did not dig,
with vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant;
and when, therefore, you eat your fill,
take care not to forget the LORD,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
The LORD, your God, shall you fear;
him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear.”
The word of the Lord.
Ps 18:2-3a, 3bc-4, 47 and 51
R. (2) I love you, Lord, my strength.
I love you, O LORD, my strength,
O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!
Praised be the LORD, I exclaim!
And I am safe from my enemies.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock!
Extolled be God my savior!
You who gave great victories to your king,
and showed kindness to your anointed,
to David and his posterity forever.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said,
“Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely;
often he falls into fire, and often into water.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Jesus said in reply,
“O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?
Bring the boy here to me.”
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him,
and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Because of your little faith
‘The disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”’
Our gospel for today focus on man’s need to have complete faith in Jesus. Our belief and conviction should be that Jesus could do anything and that He has the power to make things happen. Jesus cannot be shaken neither can He be intimidated. However, most often our faith is often weakened by our human mind. Doubt and hesitancy somehow bring us down.
One may assume that Jesus was not quite happy with His first disciples especially about their lack of faith. Yet despite this, one can see how patient Jesus was with them. This brings to light the kind of patience Jesus has with all of us especially with our sluggish faith.
As a way of reminder Jesus is making us aware that we cannot take for granted the authority and the anointing He has given us to pursue His work. We may conclude that to be fruitful in our work for the Lord, our ministry should be under His authority and anointing. We must do everything in prayer and in total reliance upon our God. Anything short of a prayerful process does not constitute God’s will and His anointing when one decides to move with God in action and commitment.
Our ministry should be guided by God’s wisdom as there is but ONE, wise and truly awe-inspiring Lord Who is seated upon His throne, has poured forth wisdom upon all His works and has lavished her upon his friends, upon every living thing according to his bounty.
Jesus comes to us today and reveals that to strengthen our faith we should not look into the power and strength by which He does things. Instead we should be able to confidently proclaim the truth that we cannot do anything without Jesus. We should be able to affirm that, “I can’t but Jesus can.” We should always be guided by the truth that “Everything is possible to one who has faith” and we just need to place our TRUST in Jesus!
Having a life of Faith can only bring us to a life of Prayer, which ultimately brings us His blessings and enables us to do His work among His people!
Our ministry should be founded on faith and prayer duly guided by the wisdom we derive from the Holy Scriptures.
Heavenly Father, give me the grace to pursue my life and my ministry in total reliance on You. In prayer, I seek your anointing. Empower me as your vessel of love and healing. In Jesus I pray. Amen.
Reflection 2 – Nothing will be impossible to you
What kind of faith does the Lord expect of us, especially when we meet set-backs and trials? Inevitably there are times when each of us disappoint others or disappoint ourselves when we suffer some kind of set-back or failure. In this Gospel incident the disciples of Jesus fail to heal an epileptic boy. Jesus’ response seems stern; but it is really tempered with love and compassion. We see at once Jesus’ dismay with the disciples’ lack of faith and his concern to meet the need of this troubled boy and his father. With one word of command Jesus rebukes the evil spirit that has caused this boy’s affliction and tells the spirit to “never enter him again”.
Pray with expectant faith
Jesus tells his disciples that they can “remove mountains” if they have faith in God. The expression to “remove mountains” was a common Jewish phrase for removing difficulties. A wise teacher who could solve difficulties was called a “mountain remover”. If we pray with expectant faith God will give us the means to overcome difficulties and obstacles. When you meet trials and disappointments how do you respond? With faith and trust in Jesus?
“Lord Jesus, help my unbelief! Increase my faith and trust in your saving power. Give me confidence and perseverance, especially in prayer. And help me to bring your healing love and truth to those I meet”. – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/aug12.htm
Reflection 3 – Faith is not the same as belief
Faith is the operative concept in Habakkuk. Habakkuk’s faith (Hab 1:12-2:4) was being tested because Yahweh seemed unconcerned about the destruction threatening his people. The disciples’ faith (Mt 17:14-20) was criticized by Jesus because they could not exorcise a demon. Both the disciples and the boy’s father were disappointed.
Many Christians think of faith as “acceptance of a set of doctrines.” A person has faith, they suppose, if he believes the stories of the Bible and the magisterium of the Church. Faith, in that sense, is something either you have or you don’t. But the experience of faith-failed people adds a more significant dimension. Faith for many people is a verb, not a noun. It is fluid, ebbing and rising like the tide, sometimes intense, other times hardly perceptible. It is faith in the sense of “having a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.”
Theologians suggest that there are levels of faith. The first step is the simple acceptance that there is a God. The second step is accepting what God has revealed. The third step is accepting God. It could be put like this: first, I believe God exists; second, I believe what God says; and third, I believe in God. The deepest level, the most life-changing kind of faith is trusting God even when I don’t know what God wants, even when I don’t know where God is.
Prophets like Habakkuk weren’t afraid to argue with God and complain that the Lord was neglecting them. Their criticism did not imply a lack of faith; in fact it was faith, their belief in God that prompted them to grumble and protest. They were not called Israelites (“God-fighters”) for nothing.
Jesus was frustrated with his disciples’ lack of faith because it rendered them powerless. It was not knowledge of doctrine that would give success to their mission and ministry; it was their relationship with him, their openness to his presence, their trusting in him that would bring them success. Biblical faith is not the same as belief. Biblical faith is having confidence in God both when you feel like it and when you don’t. (Source: Fr. Norman Langenbrunner, Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, August 9, 2008).
Reflection 4 – St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1562-1641 A.D.)
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).
Read the source text:http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1111
SAINT OF THE DAY
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint.
|JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL|
|BORN||28 January 1572
Dijon, Burgundy, France
|DIED||13 December 1641 (aged 69)
|VENERATED IN||Roman Catholic Church|
|BEATIFIED||21 November 1751, Rome byPope Benedict XIV|
|CANONIZED||16 July 1767, Rome by Pope Clement XIII|
|MAJOR SHRINE||Annecy, Savoy|
21 August (General Roman Calendar 1769-1969)
12 December (General Roman Calendar 1970-2001)
|PATRONAGE||forgotten people; in-law problems; loss of parents; parents separated from children;widows|
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal (Jeanne-Françoise Frémiot, Baronnede Chantal; 28 January 1572 – 13 December 1641) is a Roman Catholic Saint, who founded a religious order after the death of her husband.
Jane Frances de Chantal was born in Dijon, France, on 28 January 1572, the daughter of the royalist president of the Parliament of Burgundy. Her mother died when Jane was 18 months old. Her father became the main influence on her education. She developed into a woman of beauty and refinement, lively and cheerful in temperament. She married the Baron de Chantal when she was 21 and then lived in the feudal castle of Bourbilly. Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed by an arquebus while out shooting in 1601. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity. Her mother, step mother, sister, first two children and now her husband had died. Chantal gained a reputation as an excellent manager of the estates of her husband, as well as of her difficult father-in-law, while also providing alms and nursing care to needy neighbors.
During Lent in 1604, the pious baroness met Saint Francis de Sales, the bishop of Geneva who was preaching at the Sainte Chapelle in Dijon. They became close friends and de Sales became her spiritual director. She wanted to become a nun but he persuaded her to defer this decision. Later, with his support, and that of her father and brother (the archbishop of Bourges), and after providing for her children, Chantal left for Annecy, to start the Congregation of the Visitation. The Congregation of the Visitation was canonically established at Annecy on Trinity Sunday, 6 June 1610.The order accepted women who were rejected by other orders because of poor health or age. During its first eight years, the new order also was unusual in its public outreach, in contrast to most female religious who remained cloistered and adopted strict ascetic practices. 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. He wrote his Treatise on the Love of God for them.When people criticized her for accepting women of poor health and old age, Chantal famously said, “What do you want me to do? I like sick people myself; I’m on their side.”
Her reputation for sanctity and sound management resulted in many visits by (and donations from) aristocratic women. The order had 13 houses by the time de Sales died, and 86 before Chantal herself died at the Visitation Convent in Moulins, aged 69. St. Vincent de Paul served as her spiritual director after de Sales’ death. Her favorite devotions involved the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary. Chantal was buried in the Annecy convent next to de Sales. The order had 164 houses by 1767, when she was canonized. Chantal outlived her son (who died fighting Huguenots and English on the Île de Ré during the century’s religious wars) and two of her three daughters, but left extensive correspondence. Her granddaughter also became a famous writer, Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné.
Saint Jane Frances’s feast day was included in the General Roman Calendar in 1769, two years after she was canonized. Her feast was set as 21 August. In the 1969 revision of the calendar, her feast was moved to 12 December, to be closer to the day of her death, which occurred on 13 December 1641, the feast of St. Lucy. In 2001, St. Pope John Paul II included in the General Roman Calendar the memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe on 12 December. Consequently, he moved the memorial of Saint Jane Frances to 12 August.
Writings of Saint Jane Frances
- Foley O.F.M., Leonard. “St. Jane Frances de Chantal”, Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan Media
- Pernin, Raphael. “St. Jane Frances de Chantal.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 2 Feb. 2013
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 110
- Decree 2492/01/L of 18 December 2001 of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
- Newsletter of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, May-June 2009, pg. 24
- Francis de Sales, Jane De Chantal, Letters of Spiritual Direction (Classics of Western Spirituality), translated by Péronne Marie Thibert, V.H.M. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1988.