St. Jane Frances de Chantel

Friends in Christ,[i] today is the Feast of St. Jane de Chantel. St. Jane married a baron, but she soon found out that he had enormous debts as well, what a start to marriage.
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But this 20 year old French woman took charge, and organized and supervised every detail of the estate; she brought their finances under control, and also won the hearts of their employees. Despite the rocky financial start to their marriage, she and her husband were quite devoted to one another and their 4 children.
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St. Jane herself had a strong Catholic faith, and she brought a great sense of humor to their family. One friend said, ‘she could even make stupid jokes very funny.’
Jane shared their family blessings by giving bread and soup personally to the poor who came to their door. Often people who had just received food from her would pretend to leave, go around the house and get back in line for more. When asked why she let these people get away with this, she said, “What if God turned me away when I came back to him again and again with the same request?”
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Tragically, her husband was killed in a hunting accident, accidentally shot by another man. The heartbroken Jane had to struggle with forgiveness for a long time. At first she tried just greeting that man on the street. When she was able to do that, she invited him to her house. Finally she was able to forgive the man so completely that she even became godmother to his child.
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These troubles opened her heart to her longing for God and she sought God in prayer and a growing spiritual life. Her commitment to the Lord impressed her bishop, he was St. Francis de Sales. Francis de Sales became her spiritual director and best friend. With his support, she founded the Visitation order for women who were rejected by other Orders because of poor health or age. She even accepted a woman who was 83 years old.
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St. Jane Francis knew the spiritual life well. One day, she gave this advice to her own daughter: “Should you fall even 50 times a day, never let that surprise or worry you. Instead, gently set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue. Speak words of love and trust to the Lord even after you have committed a thousand faults. Once we have humbled ourselves, we must forget our sins and go forward.”
St. Jane Frances de Chantel died at 69 years of age.

 

[i] Adapted from www.catholic.org article.

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