What Happens When the Bubble Bursts?
Most candidates enter a religious community with great enthusiasm, hopes, high ideals and strong expectations. Formators know that they need to be alert to the moments when the “bubble” begins to leak, or burst. That’s when the new member’s real inner work begins.
St. Jane de Chantal advised her Novice Directresses about the challenges that postulants and novices would face. She addressed them:
“I must give two little words of advice to the Mistress of Novices before coming to an end. Never let her be astonished at any temptation which she may see in her novices; but compassionating them, let her help them and teach them to bear them generously; let her assure them that Our Lord never permits them but for good; to the end, that by overcoming them we may receive increase of grace; that by this means the fidelity of the soul is put to the proof, she learns how to know her weakness, she betakes herself to God, she has something to suffer for His love; for to suffer patiently is a signal act of love, by which we protest that God is worthy of love in tribulation as well as in prosperity.
Let her teach them to see only God and His Good Pleasure in all their sufferings, and in all things which befall them, whatever they may be, and to join their will to the Divine decree, and to submit lovingly to this, however painful it may be.
We are the Church militant; in it we must fight generously: for no one will be crowned unless he has fought valiantly. They must be made to see that there is no sin in feeling struggles and contradictions. The pain and the fear that we have of offending God is a most certain proof of this.
These words of wisdom were spoken nearly 400 years ago by the Visitation Order’s Foundress, St. Jane de Chantal. Wisdom is timeless. May St. Jane’s deep understanding of the early stages of formation be a support for all those entering religious life today.
(Excerpted from Answers of Our Holy Mother St. Jane Frances Fremiot, page 266, 267)