Tag Archives: St Jane Frances de Chantal

St Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1572–1641) is honored today on the liturgical calendar. She was born in Dijon, France, and the daughter of the president of parliament.

By 21 she married a baron and had six children. Jane was a refined, cheerful, and beautiful woman, committed to Catholic faith, and widow after 7 years of marriage.  A daily Mass go-er she also gave alms to the poor, and was a good administrator.

At 32 she met St. Francis de Sales after a mystical vision while praying for a spiritual director. On love for Christ she made a private vow of chastity to which she added obedience to his direction, while continuing to provide for her children. By 45 all of her family obligations were met and with Bishop Francis de Sales founded a religious institute for women, the Order of the Visitation, giving witness to the virtues of the Virgin Mary at the time of the Visitation.

The Visitation sisters accepted women who were rejected from other religious orders due to age or illness, and were notable for their active charitable works. Jane’s counsel was sought by all people, high and low in society. She also traveled extensively to found new Visitation houses, leaving 86 at the time of her death, and 164 at the time of her canonization.

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

St Jane de Chantal“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.”

Many of us have few personal connections with Saint Jane Frances (1572-1641) as the holy foundress –and the co-founder Saint Francis deSales– of the Order of the Visitation in 1610.. A native of Dijon, France, Jane Frances was a wife and mother and who united her sufferings with the Heart of Jesus.

There are monasteries of the Order of the Visitation around like the Georgetown Visitation, the Tyrringham Visitation, the Toledo Visitation, or the Brooklyn Visitation. In 2010, the Order celebrated 400 years of monastic witness and began a new era in their holy vocation.

The impression one gets from the Visitation Order is that while being serious contemplatives their stamina for a more traditional form of life is different and no less holy and inviting; the Visitation has a certain suppleness of life that is not easily explained –it needs to be experienced. The journey of a nun of the Visitation is accompanied with these words of the foundress: “Daughters of the Gospel, established especially to be imitators of the Sacred Heart of the Word Incarnate in His gentleness and humility. These virtues are, as it were, the foundation and basis of their Order, giving them the incomparable grace and privilege of bearing the title of Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, pray for us!

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

O God, who made Saint Jane Frances de Chantal radiant with outstanding merits in different walks of life, grant us, through her intercession, that walking faithfully in our vocation, we may constantly be examples of shining light.

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While today is Sunday and Saint Jane’s feast is not celebrated by the Church at Mass, the Visitation nuns will observe her feast with great solemnity. I saw one of the St Louis Visitandine nuns yesterday at the ordination of the two monks and we had a good laugh and a few moments talking about important things, like my coveting the cross of a Visitation nun (look at the picture closely). It is, for me, a strikingly beautiful sign of Christ’s love and human commitment to that love. I really want one!

I pray for the nuns of the Order of Visitation whom I have known over the years and I keep in prayer the Monasteries in Georgetown, St Louis, and Tyrringham.

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, keep us “walking faithfully in our vocation,” pray for us.

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

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.

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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.

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

St Jane Frances Chantal.jpgLord, You chose Saint Jane Frances to serve You both in marriage and in religious life. By her prayers help us to be faithful in our vocation and always to be light to the world.

Saint Jane Frances once said: “There is no danger if our prayer is without words or reflection because the good success of prayer depends neither on words nor on study. It depends upon the simple raising of our minds to God, and the more simple and stripped of feeling it is, the surer it is.

Let me recommend two monasteries of the Order of the Visitation of Mary, one of the first federation and the other of the second: Georgetown Visitation Monastery and the Visitation of Tyringham.

Note: In the US this memorial is moved from August 18 to today; in other parts of the world Saint Jane’s feast is December 12.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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