by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal

Many of you were excited to hear St. Jane de Chantal in her own words last week. With your encouragement and response, I will post more of her sage wisdom under “St. Jane Speaks.” Here are some more exerts from our lovely St. Jane de Chantal. The more I read her voice and about her, the more my love for this woman grows.

In last week’s blog, St. Jane’s quote, “Ask for nothing, and refuse nothing,” raised some good discussion among readers. To some the refuse nothing made a lot of sense, but not the ask for nothing. I have pondered this and wonder, is this sentiment more indicative of the culture and time St. Jane was living? Or is it an attempt to free ourselves from suffering? For if we do not want, we do not suffer? Today we are implored to ask God for our deepest desires, for in imagining them they are more likely to become a reality. What are your thoughts on this? Do you believe as St. Jane professes to ask for nothing? Or when you pray do you bring your requests to God?

As the Minneapolis Monastery lives out their mission to be a prayerful presence to their neighbor, St. Jane reflects on love for our neighbor in the following excerpts:

From the writings of St. Jane de Chantal’s testimony in the canonization process of St. Francis de Sales:

“In all the years I had the happiness of knowing him well, both before and after I became a nun, I never knew him to fail to do for his neighbor all the good that lay within his power. He never spared himself in this service; I am quite sure of this, and have seen and experienced more of it than I can ever tell you….. He once wrote to me: ‘When shall we be really steeped in a sweet and tender love for our neighbor? When shall,we really see his soul in our Savior? Alas, if we look at him in any other way, we run the risk of not loving him purely, faithfully, and each one alike. But who could help loving him in Our Lord, putting up with Him and bearing his faults? Who could then find him unattractive or tiresome? For that is where our neighbor really is, right in our Divine Savior’s heart, so beloved and so lovable that the Lover dies for love of him'”….

from Her Exhortations, Conferences and Instructions:

“Our Lord told us that we should love as he loved us. He said to His disciples, ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’… .Certainly, we can never reach the perfection of this holy love and union with God unless we have this love of neighbor. Yesterday, I was reading what St. John wrote: ‘If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother, whom he sees, cannot love God whom he does not see.’ If we don’t have heartfelt love and holy affection towards our sisters, who represent God’s image to us, we must conclude that we don’t have true love of God….

Real charity and true virtue require that we speak to all our sisters in the same way, gently, cordially, with humble frankness, sweet confidence, holy joy, and gladness, and with a good word about all…it is in this that virtue lies, not in our own preferences. And if we happen to find some.. . disagreeable or hostile toward us, we must remember this:

‘Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.’

Let’s all examine our hearts…..and if we find in ourselves any resentment, aversion, or remembrance of past wrongs, let’s immediately pick up the pruning hook of God’s holy fear and cut off this evil shoot… .In it’s place, let’s build up love for this great commandment towards our neighbor and for following this holy precept to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).”

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Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan is a 1993 graduate of the Mendota Heights Visitation; she currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband and three sons. She is a freelance writer who is passionate about motherhood and sharing Salesian Spirituality . We are happy to feature her here as a guest blogger from time to time.


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