O, the Great Wisdom, Humility and Gentleness of St. Jane Frances de Chantal!

 
 
On this Feast of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, what a joy it has been to come to know her more intimately as I researched and looked more deeply into her life again today to write this! 
 
O, what wisdom, humility, strength and gentleness I have found in her words! 
 

May her life and her words be a gift to you; and together, may we ask you, St. Jane, to be with us especially today and to pray for us in all our needs!

  • You, who were a loving wife to the Baron de Chantal,

    “She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and
    brought back prosperity. During her husband’s absence at the court, or
    with the army, when reproached for her extremely sober manner of
    dressing, her reply was: “The eyes which I must please are a hundred
    miles from here”.
    (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08282c.htm)

  • a mother of 7 (3 of whom died in infancy), 
  • a widow of her beloved husband at age 28, 
  • one who struggled to forgive the man who accidentally killed him in a hunting accident, 

    “Before he died, her husband, [Christophe], forgave the man who shot him, saying to the man, “Don’t commit the sin
    of hating yourself when you have done nothing wrong.”
    The heartbroken
    Jane, however, had to struggle with forgiveness for a long time. At
    first she tried just greeting him on the street. When she was able to do
    that, she invited him to her house. Finally she was able to forgive the
    man so completely that she even became godmother to his child.”
    (https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=60)

  • one who was misunderstood and mistreated by her husband’s family – yet to safeguard her children’s property, she was forced to live with her father-in-law for 7 years in great servitude after the death of her husband,
  • a foundress of the Congregation of the Visitation at the age of 45, who began 86 houses by the time of her death – bringing in as sisters those who were too ill, or young, or old or otherwise seen as unacceptable for other orders, 
  • forever concerned as a parent of a wayward child and devoted to the sanctity of all of her children – she wrote these words speaking of her daughter’s death and of her fears about her son’s salvation:
    " I am almost in despair . . . so miserable am I about it that I do not know which
    way to turn, if not to the Providence of God, there to bury my longings, confiding to His hands not only
    the honour but even the salvation of this already half lost child. Oh! the incomparable anguish of
    this affliction. No other grief can come near to it." 
    (https://archive.org/stream/selectedletterso00chanuoft/selectedletterso00chanuoft_djvu.txt)

    She begged God continually for her son, “Celse-Bénigne, [who] was an incorrigible duellist. She prayed so fervently that he was given the grace to die a Christian death”(http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08282c.htm)

  • a dear friend and spiritual directee of St. Frances de Sales, whose letters to each other would have filled volumes if Jane hadn’t burned most of them before her death…
  • she suffered great interior trials and darkness for 9 years before her death
 
 
Here are some of my favorite quotes and stories of her:
“Should you
fall even fifty times a day, never on any account should that surprise
or worry you. Instead, ever so gently set your heart back in the right
direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the time speaking words
of love and trust to our Lord after you have committed a thousand
faults, as much as if you had committed only one. Once we have humbled
ourselves for the faults God allows us to become aware of in ourselves,
we must forget them and go forward.”
 
“…throw ourselves into God as a little drop of water into the sea, and lose ourselves indeed in the Ocean of the divine goodness.”

When giving bread and soup to the poor, often people would pretend to leave after receiving their food and get back in line to receive more. When people complained about this to her, she said: “What if God turned me away when I came back to him again and again with the same request?

 
She was often hailed for her sanctity. To this she would reply, confused: “These people do not know me; they are mistaken”.
 
 

(There is no saint with my name, but because Janet is a variation of Jane and the feminine form of John, I take St. Jane and St. John as my patrons.
So, I consider this my feast day and it is with great joy that I share a little glimpse of St. Jane, who has become so very dear to me!)
 
For more information on St. Jane, please see here for a beautiful reflection on St. Jane:
 
You can read her own words in selected letters here: 
 
Other resources on St. Jane that I used to write this reflection:
 
© Janet Moore 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

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