Making Holiness Attractive

Bourbilly Castle

Bourbilly Castle

When first married, Jane arranged for Mass to be said before the hunt, her husband’s favorite pastime. She had daily Mass offered at Bourbilly which she attended regularly and encouraged her servants to attend. When living with her father-in-law, she rose very early in the morning and rode horseback to Mass. She then managed to be back at the castle in time to have breakfast with him. She was very resourceful in order to be true to what was important to her. Jane took care of her devotions in a way that did not impose her will on others, but she made the good attractive to her children and the rest of the household. She did not manipulate others to do what she wanted, but she always found a way to take care of the things that were essential to nourish her faith. All was done in a gentle spirit and with a certain sense of humor.

Her husband was also expected to rise early for Mass. Once she told this story to the novices: “I remember how M. de Chantal used to like to sleep late in the morning; but I had to rise early in order to organize everything for the day. When it began to be late, I would go back to our bedroom and make some noise coming in so as to awaken him. Then I’d say there would be plenty of time for whatever he wanted to do that day after Mass had been said in the chapel. I’d begin to get impatient; I’d go and pull back the bed curtains and cry out, ‘ We’re late! We should both be up. The chaplain is already vested and he’s ready to begin Mass.’ and if all that didn’t wake him up, I’d take a lighted candle and hold it in front of his face and tease him until lie was awake and on his feet.”

Reflection questions:

I. How can we make the good attractive to others?

  1. Why is a sense of humor such a necessary and useful part of affection?
  2. How can we discover ways to do the things that nourish our faith?
  3. How do we fail to find ways to do the things that nourish our faith?

Application

Scripture

You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self..and to be renewed in the spirit, and to clothe yourselves with the new self created according to the likeness of God in true holiness. (Ephesians 4: 22-24)

Pursue peace with everyone and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.(Hebrews 12:14)

Join with me in suffering for the Gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace. (2 Timothy 1:8,9)

Jane’s Words

Run cheerfully and lovingly in the ways of God’s good pleasure, my dear Sisters.

It is better to attract hearts by your modest Christian manner and by a spirit of gentle and gracious affability.

The strongest desire I have is to see you, my Sisters, earnest in doing your duty and in advancing toward holiness. . The mother’s love I bear you makes me long for your happiness and your spiritual profit.

Resting in God’s Providence

St. Jane as a mother

St. Jane as a mother

Jane’s combination of humanness and holiness can help us strengthen our souls and grow in spirituality. The more we learn and read about her the more inspired we will be by her teachings. Jane’s desire to dedicate her life completely to God as well as the fact that she did this. while raising a family and managing her estates for her children’s benefit, shows the character which makes her the ultimate role model for each of us. Faithfulness and confidence in God give us strength in our daily lives. They enable us to remember why we are on this earth and prompt us to think always of God’s providential plans for us. This attitude keeps its on track. When we stumble and fall, it is faith and hope that help us get up again. Jane followed God’s will without question. Faithfulness to God was most important to her because she was convinced that all things come from God. Her faith was the secret of her strength.

And these words of Francis were among the treasures found in Jane’s Book of Rules which she always carried in her pocket:

Our Lord loves you, my dear Mother, He wants you to be all his; let no other arm now carry you, may his providence alone be your rest. Do not look elsewhere, let your spirit dwell in him alone… not in friendship, nor in the union God gave us, nor in your children, your own heart, your own soul or anything else whatever, for you have given all to God. And now, whatever you have to do, do it, not because you want to do it, but only because God wills it.

Reflection questions:

  1. How can we discern God’s will for us?
  2. Is your faith your strength?
  3. Have you ever been helpless and weak before God? How have you grown because of this?

APPLICATION

Scripture

You are the Lord, You alone; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life and the hosts of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 9:6)

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens and he rules over the whole creation. (Psalm 103:19)

Aren’t two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground. Even the hairs on your head are counted. Do not be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10: 29-31)

Jane’s Words

My dear Sister, God’s plans for you are so wonderful! Even though his ways are painful in nature, I am sure you will experience them as sweeter than honey in the depths of your heart.

My dear Sisters, our self-sufficiency and capabilities are partial and weak if they are not sustained and guided by God who is the source of all the good we can ever accomplish.

Listen, my Daughters, to what the divine Master says to us: Unless you become as little children you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. O lesson of innocence, of simplicity, of openness, of good faith, of artlessness, of perfect submission, and truat. What do you say, Lord? Unless we become as little children. Do we weigh its import, its gravity?

Prayer

St. Jane at Prayer

St. Jane at Prayer

Throughout most of her religious life, Jane was tormented by temptations against the faith. Her prayer was frequently filled with dryness and rarely did she experience warm feelings of closeness to God. In spite of the fact that she hardly ever felt consolation in prayer. The good Lord seems to have guided Jane into the ways of a prayer of great simplicity. Perhaps it was her sufferings that enabled her to turn away from herself and cling to God in more simple ways. Today we call this “Centering Prayer.” Let us hear Jane speak for herself:

Those who are led by this path, she wrote, are obligated to a great purity of heart, humility, submission, and total dependence on God. They must simplify their spirit in every way, by bypassing reflections on the past, the present and the future. Instead of looking to what they are doing or will do. they must look to God, forgetting themselves as much as possible in all things in favor of this continual remembrance, uniting their spirits in his goodness in everything that happens to them.

The essence of prayer is not found in always being on our knees, but in keeping our wills closely united to God’s in all events. The soul which holds itself ready and open to yield itself obediently on any occasion, and which receives these occasions lovingly as sent from God, can do this even while sweeping the floor.

Reflection Questions:

1. Compare and/or contrast “Centering Prayer” with Jane’s prayer, so replete with dryness and the seeming absence of God.

2. What does Jane mean by the need to simplify one’s spirit in order to look to God in prayer?

3. How does keeping our will united to God in all events qualify as prayer?

APPLICATION

Scripture

Go and if he calls, you shall say, “Speak Lord for Thy servant is listening.” (Sam 1,3:9)

Truly God has listened, he has given heed to the words of my prayer. (Psalm 66:19)

Whenever you pray, go into your room, shut the door and pray to your Father in secret. (Matt: 6:6)

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Phil 4:6)

Jane’s Words

Three Methods of Prayer

The first consists in making use of our imagination, by representing the Divine Jesus in his cradle, in the arms of his Holy Mother and of the great Saint Joseph. We must represent the mystery very simply to ourselves.

The second way is to use considerations by representing to ourselves the virtues our Lord practiced, his humility, his patience, his meekness, and his charity towards his enemies. In these considerations, we will feel our will wholly moved in God and will produce strong affections from which we draw resolutions for the day.

The third way is to keep ourselves simply in God’s presence by looking at him with the eyes of faith in each mystery, conversing with him by words full of confidence. Then remain quietly in his presence, neither troubling nor disturbing yourself for any dryness which may befall you.