I figured some wisdom from today’s saint is worth reading, even though it is not that extraordinary but its simplicity speaks volumes. Saint Jane Frances with Saint Francis de Sales founded the Order of the Visitation of Mary and so this letter of 1616 was written by her to one her spiritual daughters who must have been facing some criticism or some type of hassle from some in the monastery about her prayer life. Mother Jane Frances simply tells her correspondent not reveal all of the details of her prayer life not because she was advocating be obscure but there are times one ought to be discrete. What is a good reminder with Jane’s letter is the reminder that we all should pay close attention in keeping the Divine Presence in front of us. So often we are distracted by other things that we fail in keeping God prominently in front of our eyes. Msgr. Giussani reminds us of this necessity and Fr. Carrón hasn’t tired in reminding us of this daily witness to Christ.
The second point addressed in the letter provided below by Mother Jane Frances is her correspondent’s lack of confidence in her vocation. It could be that the young sister was feeling “dry in her prayer and her vocation,” having a lack of confidence that what she is doing is not as she expected. This real isn’t it? I can verify that many times I go in life without courage. This is also true was said of Blessed Mother Teresa who for 50 years experienced dryness in her prayer. But her faithfulness to time in prayer showed the depth of her love for Christ. From the opposite point of view, Jane uses Old Testament typology to illustrate how God has been faithful to His people not for one day but for all time. I believe that Divine Providence doesn’t give us anything in our life without the grace to “succeed” and everything we experience is given to us by God for our education. I find Saint Jane Frances de Chantal’s spiritual advice to be practical and human. Perhaps you might also.
Saint Jane Frances writes: “When you are asked what point of prayer you take, and the like, answer boldly as to what you have done or thought formerly in this way: “I have had such thoughts in prayer or done such things while walking about, or when in bed”; but do not say: “Today, or at such an hour, I have done such a thing.” It is not necessary to be so explicit, but simply say, “I have done or seen such a thing,” and have no scruple in calling all your good aspirations and thoughts prayer, for they are prayer, and so, for the matter of that, are all our actions when done to please God. It is enough to salute your good Angel morning and evening. Attention to the presence of God and of Our Lady includes all, for the blessed Spirits are engulphed in the abyss of the Divinity, and it is more perfect to walk simply. When a novice says to you, “What are you thinking of?” answer frankly, “I am thinking of God,” without saying (if it is not so), I was thinking of the Passion, and the like, for no doubt to mention a particular subject (if we were not thinking of it) would be an untruth. Say simply, “I was thinking of Our Lord,” and you might, for example, add, “My God, how happy we should be if we could always have the Holy Passion or the Nativity before our eyes.” This gives edification enough. I see nothing else to say.
Oh! but yes; just a word for my Little One. I beg of you, my dearest Sister, not to trouble about what you feel or do not feel, this I say once for all. Serve Our Lord as it pleases Him, and while He keeps you in the desert serve Him there with good courage. He made His dear Israelites spend forty years there, accomplishing a journey that they could have made in forty days. Take courage then, and be satisfied with saying, and being able to say, though without relish, “I wish to live wholly for God and never to offend Him”; and when you stumble, as is sure to happen (be it a hundred times a day), rise up again by an act of confidence. Do likewise towards your neighbor, be content with having the desire to love him, or desiring to desire it, and to procure for him all possible good, and, opportunity given, minister gently to him.
In short take bravely the road in which God leads you it is a safe one, although you may not have all the light and satisfaction you would like; but it is quite time to abandon to Our Lord all these plans and desires, and to walk blindly, as divine Providence wills, believing that it will lead you aright.