Aug 12 – Memorial for St. Jane Frances de Chantal
St. Jane married Baron de Chantal. She restored order in 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.” She found, more than once, that God blessed with miracles the care she gave the suffering members of Christ. Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed by a harquebus while out shooting. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity.
She founded the Congregation of the Visitation, whose aim was to receive, with a view to their spiritual advancement, young girls and even widows who had not the desire or strength to subject themselves to the austere ascetical practices in force in all the religious orders at that time. The remainder of the saint’s life was spent under the protection of the cloister in the practice of the most admirable virtues. It was firmness and great vigour which prevailed in St. Jane Frances; she did not like to see her daughters giving way to human weakness. Her trials were continuous and borne bravely, and yet she was exceedingly sensitive.
“It is not everyone who can accept what I have said…”
Today’s readings conjure up images of a stubborn bunch of people who were impervious to God’s teachings — the people of Jerusalem chose not to glory in the splendour of our Lord, while the Pharisees considered themselves fit to test Jesus. Little wonder that our Lord was angry – “Your anger has passed, O Lord, and you give me comfort.” (Isa 12) – yet, at the same time, we all take comfort in His immense love for us as redeemed children of God.
Brothers and sisters, when is the last time you have given advice that has fallen on deaf ears? I myself have been dealing with all manner of ‘characters’ and situations at work since the beginning of the year – new bosses bringing new expectations, staff who seem to have gotten ‘brain fog’ due to COVID-19 and falling short of standards, a rising number of engagements/events due to the easing of restrictions, fallout from ‘the great resignation’. In many cases, I have tried to dispense some form of advice or suggested ways of dealing with things. Not surprisingly, my ‘hit rate’ has been a little low as I encounter people who feel/think that they know better or that I don’t fully understand their perspective(s).
In a recent sharing as part of my contribution to the university, I penned down my thoughts on how we have created a ‘safe culture’ where failure is tolerated (to a certain extent) and how I believe that is the best way for people to learn fast. This is what has kept my faith in the organisation all these years – that everyone is interested only in helping others succeed. That together, we can go far.
Does that explain how long the Catholic church has lasted? Through the millenia and all manner of scandal, wars, disasters, what Jesus started and then entrusted to Peter and his disciples has remained. Of course, whether the faith is flourishing is best left for another reflection; the point is, despite our fallen nature, despite all that man has tried to do to destroy one another, there are those who remain steadfast that Jesus’ legacy of love prevails. That He continues to be with us and that his teachings prevail in spite of changing times and mindsets.
For me, the one true constant is love. That a shared love for one another is where empathy, forgiveness, respect for others, understanding, camaraderie, collaboration, détente all spring. It is the love Jesus pours into our hearts when we go for mass, when we do our sacrament of reconciliation, when we serve Him at retreats or prayer sessions. Even when we just sit with a fellow brother/sister and share/listen. And it is only this love that will help us open our ears and hearts to receive His Word.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Lord, we ask that you continue to nourish us with your Word and to help us open our senses in humility to your everlasting wisdom.
Thanksgiving: Thank you God, for your steadfast love for us.