19 August 2008

The Prayer of a Saint

Despite the fact that yesterday was "officially not" the Solemnity St. Jane de Chantal, we did observe the feast since we had not enough time to prepare for the new date. At the end of Mass, our celebrant read us the responsorial psalm as a reminder of the words that our Holy Mother held dear as her favorite psalm:

Psalm 131
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor haughty my eyes
Neither do I aspire after great things or matters above me.

Indeed I have behaved and calmed myself,

As a little child on the lap of its mother,
as a little child, so is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord, both now and for ever.

It may not at first strike us as the most inspiring verses of the psalter but a cursory look at St. Jane de Chantal's life provides insight as to why she was so attracted to these words. The lap that held her children also held the dying body of her husband, as she was widowed at age 28. Ultimately, she outlived all but one of her children, her beloved spiritual director, St. Francis de Sales and the three sisters with whom she founded our Order in 1610. She knew great loss and great suffering but, more important, she knew the Lord. Surely one who held a child on her lap was touched by the image of being held close to the Lord whom she trusted. The words of one whose soul knew great sadness but whose heart was very closely united to him who loved her:

"Divine love takes its sword to the hidden recesses of our inmost soul and divides us from ourselves. . . . love is strong as death. For the martyrs of love suffer infinitely more in remaining in this life so as to serve God, than if they died a thousand times over in testimony to their faith and love and fidelity."
St. Jane de Chantal

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