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.