Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal (Jeanne-Francoise Fremyot)


Saint Jane Frances de Chantal (Jeanne-Francoise Fremyot - de Chantal)
Feast Day:  August 12

Jeanne-Francoise Fremyot was born in 1572 and raised in a Catholic family during the time of the Protestant reformation.  Her mother died before she turned 2.

At age 20, she got married to Baron Christopher de Chantal.  They shared many common interests, loved each other very much and were blessed with 4 children.  After 9 years of marriage,  Christopher was mortally wounded in a hunting accident.  For 9 days, Jane Frances de Chantal suffered intense agony.  She beseeched God to take everything she has in this world save for her husband.  Nevertheless, Christopher died. (Over the course of her life, she experienced the death of her stepmother, her sister and her first 2 children).

However friends and family tried to distract her, Jane was inconsolable.  After months of mourning, her father-in-law invited her to stay with them at Monthelon.  She busied herself with the family estate and continued to carry out her charitable works.  During this time, she had been feeling a strong attraction to religious life.

In the lent of 1604, she received an invitation from her brother to meet the Bishop of Geneva who was coming over to their hometown, Dijon, France to preach.  Jane was deeply touched by Bishop Francis de Sales’ sermon.  Five months later, the bishop became her spiritual director.

Jane Frances de Chantal had everything to live for and yet she chose to be a nun.

Under the direction of Francis de Sales, the Visitation Sisters, a religious order was formed.  The name of the congregation was after the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.   A combination of contemplation depicted by the Blessed Virgin’s prayer –The Magnificat (considered as the most spiritual and contemplative canticle ever written) and the charity toward neighbor that Mary showed by serving Elizabeth.  A contemplative in action - the Visitation Sisters share a common life centered on prayer and balanced with action as they go out to care for the poor and the sick.

These years of productivity and accomplishments were also years of spiritual darkness for Jane de Chantal.  She was plague with temptation and for 41 years Jane struggled to fight it.

One of St. Francis de Sales’ advice to Jane was to seek God’s will in her everyday life and to love God’s will.

Jane Frances de Chantal was a beacon to many.  And to St. Vincent de Paul, who began the Sisters of Charity to serve the poor, Jane Frances de Chantal (Jeanne-Francoise de Chantal) was an inspiration.

Reflection:

God's love is ineffable.  No one on earth, not even the ones who loved you that most can even come close to God's love for us. God wants us to experience this deep, everlasting love. And once we are captivated by His love, we can't help but love Him back. This love of Christ leads to imitation of Christ.  And serving and loving others is the result of knowing and loving God.
God removed all the things that hinders Jane from experiencing God's indescribable love.  In due course, Jane de Chantal lived this love and became a true disciple of God.

Please feel free to share your reflections/inputs/insights in the comment box below.  Thank you and God bless!

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