Thursday, November 29, 2007


“Humility is the fundamental virtue by which a person remembers his utter dependence on God and God’s laws and God’s providence, and the utter folly of any action or any judgment or any self-glorification that is contrary to the will of God.”(1) St. John Chrysostom remarked that “Humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue.” Reverend John Mason of England exclaimed, “True humility makes way for Christ and throws the soul at his feet.” (2)

Abbe De Brandt told us, “Humility, to be true, must be deeply rooted in our hearts. Let us beseech our dear Lord to make us more clearly perceive, by the help of His grace, what means we should take in order to become truly humble. Humility must grow up out of our hearts perennially – a blossom growing from the deeply-rooted conviction of our nothingness.” (3)

SAINT FOR DECEMBER – St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1562-164)
Feast Day – December 12 (August 18, in USA)
Patron of forgotten people, in-law problems, loss of parents, parents separated from children, widows

St. Jane Frances de Chantal truly lived a life of humility. Throughout her life as a wife, a mother, a nun, and a founder of the Order of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, she exemplified humility. She was born in Dijon, France where her father was President of the Burgundian Parliament. She married Baron de Chantal at 20 and bore 6 children. Only 4 children survived. They lived in a feudal castle where she restored the custom of Daily Mass and brought order to 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.” Her humility was blessed by the Lord with miraculous cures of persons for whom she had nursed.

Her husband was killed in a hunting accident after nine years of marriage. At 28 years old the young widow took an oath of chastity and devoted herself to her children and to works of charity, although this was difficult under the tyrannical father-in-law. Three years later, Jane heard St. Francis de Sales preach. She sought his guidance and his spiritual direction. She humbly accepted his direction not to become a nun but to continue with her family and community work. Three more years passed and St. Francis informed Jane of his plan to found an institute for women whose age or health would not allow them to live a cloistered life. They would be committed to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Thus was founded the Order of the Visitation whose work was primarily focused on exemplifying the virtues of Our Lady of the Visitation, namely humility and meekness. St. Jane was 45 when the small congregation began. She remained humble and obedient when the Order was obliged to become cloistered and when her only son died and a plague took the lives of other family members. She and her nuns continued to care for the sick. The two holy founders saw their undertaking prosper. At the time of the death of St. Francis de Sales in 1622, the Order already counted thirteen houses; there were eighty-six when St. Jane Frances died (December 13, 1641) and 164 when she was canonized.

St. Francis de Sales's commentary of her characterizes her life at Bourbilly and everywhere else: "In Madame de Chantal I have found the perfect woman, whom Solomon had difficulty in finding in Jerusalem". (4)

For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. Luke XIV:11

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

Lord, you chose St. 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 the light of the world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer for Memorial Mass)

THOUGHTS OF St. Jane Frances de Chantal
O, Lord Jesus, I surrender to You all my will. Let me be Your lute. Touch any string You please. Always and forever let me make music in perfect harmony with Your own. Yes, Lord, with no ifs, ands or buts, let Your will be done in this family, for the father, for the children, for everything that concerns me, and especially let Your will be done in me. (St. Jane Frances) (5)

Fidelity toward God consists in being perfectly resigned to his holy will, in enduring everything that his goodness allows in our lives, and in carrying out all our duties, especially that of prayer, with love and for love. In prayer we must converse very familiarly with our Lord, concerning our little needs, telling him what they are, and remaining submissive to anything he may wish to do with us.... We should go to prayer with deep humility and an awareness of our nothingness. We must invoke the help of the Holy Spirit and that of our good angel, and then remain still in God's presence, full of faith that he is more in us than we are in ourselves.

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. We must never dwell on our sins during prayer. Regarding our offenses, a simple humbling of our soul before God, without a thought of this offense or that, is enough...such thoughts act as distractions. ( Saint Jeanne de Chantal, from Wings to the Lord ) (6)


1. "Catholic Treasures," Issue 88-89

2. New Dictionary of Thoughts, Standard Book Company, 1960 p. 281

3. Growth in the Knowledge of Our Lord, Herder Book Company, p. 151

4. Catholic Encyclopedia (1913 edition); Saint of the Day, Vol. II, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1975

5. Ordinary People-Extraordinary Lives 4/86