Wisdom from St. Jane de Chantal
Delight in prayer is no measure of our love of God. But if we bear difficulties patiently, resist the urgings of self-love resolutely; and fulfill our duties in life willingly, if we live trusting in Providence and desiring to be known only by God - then we will show that we truly love God! Such deeds are unmistakable signs of love. Let us always be faithful in doing God's will because all else is unworthy of the name of love.
May we love and serve the Lord reverently with a loving, filial fear of offending our heavenly Father and of displeasing Jesus, our Divine Beloved. As long as we are in this life, we would do well to follow the well-traveled ways to holiness. Fear of God is the first step on this path. We cannot maintain a truly productive desire of serving God unless we have a holy fear of displeasing Our Savior and of being negligent in responding to grace and inspirations.
May all our actions, words, thoughts, and spirit be centered in God, on God, and for God! Let us keep our passions well-disciplined and our spirit pure and faithful. Fidelity to our way of life will help us keep our thoughts centered on God. Then our words will be an inspiration to family, friends, and acquaintances.
Let us do everything in a spirit of peace and love! Attracted by the example and virtues of Jesus Christ our Lord who did the will of His Father, let us walk and even run in the way of God's divine will, not letting ourselves be pulled and pushed about like puppets. Unless we do everything lovingly from a sincere and simple desire for God's glory and the salvation of the world, we will never succeed in obeying this Divine Will. Instead, we will render fruitless the graces of our way of life.
To be faithful, we must live simply. Then being free from attachments, we are possessed by nothing. We live in such absolute openness to Divine Love that whatever pleases God becomes our heart's desire.
Our true self, the beloved of God, strips itself of all possessions and desires contrary to God's will. It no longer matters what we do provided we are pleasing to God. Even our likes and dislikes become unimportant. We control our desires for the attractions of this world lest we be seduced by them. We become graced persons as we turn towards and center ourselves in God.
Let us not strive for the rewards of heaven, valuable though they may be, but live so as to please the God of heaven. If God were not in heaven, all its beauty, riches, and sweetness would be dull rather than delightful. By faith, we know God already dwells within us. But in heaven we will see God face to face. May we so live that one day we will be in heaven praising and playing eternally before our Lord and Savior!
How could any dishonor we receive compare to the indignities heaped upon our gentle Savior! How do our sufferings compare to His? Consider the incomparable pain Jesus endured in Gethsemane when He submitted His will to that of His Father for our salvation! In our conversations, let us speak gratefully about our divine Lord, about His sufferings for us and for all humanity, about the virtues He taught us, and about the gift of His holy Mother. By such recollections we will be enlightened, encouraged and strengthened in our undertakings.
Moses was told, "Act according to the model I have given you." Our Heavenly Father has given us Jesus Christ as a model. This divine Savior lived for thirty years, hidden, unknown, disguised under the anonymity of poverty; He was considered an ignorant nobody, the son of a carpenter. Actually Jesus was the Son of the Eternal Father and had as much knowledge and wisdom at the moment of his conception as He had had in heaven and as He has now. If we were to keep this in mind, how differently we would receive the contradictions, embarrassments, and even disgraces that come our way!
If we patiently accept through love all that God allows to happen, then we will begin to taste even here on earth something of the delights the saints experience in heaven. But for this we must serve God willingly and lovingly, seeking to obey the Divine Will rather than to follow our own inclinations and desires. For the perfection of love demands that we desire for ourselves only whatever God wills. Let us implore the good God unceasingly to grant us this grace!
As regards love of neighbor, may we give according to the measure with which our Divine Master has given to us. Then we truly will love each person as ourselves. This saying is true, "Do to your neighbor only what you would like done to you." Oh, how happy we would be if we were mindful of this in all our relationships with others.
Let us keep our hearts and spirits centered in God! We will experience the union with God which the Divine Savior begged from His Father. Before His passion, Jesus prayed that the apostles and all those who believed in Him would be one with Him. Just as the Father was in Him and He in the Father, so all would be united lovingly together in Him. Let us mediate peace within our families. We will grow in virtue. Every family living together in harmony will be richly blessed. May yours and ours be among them!
Let us rejoice when a friend or neighbor is praised! Indeed we could add to the praise by telling others our own experience of the person's goodness! But let us forgive and remain by telling others our own experiences of the person' silent about all else.
May we love as Jesus did with a love that is kind, universal, compassionate, courageous, and self-forgetful! Nothing could be more pleasing to our Divine Savior than this. St. Augustine says, "Love and do what you will." May our love for God animate our love for others! If we see Jesus in our neighbor, we will do only what we would like done to us. All perfection ties in this!
If we truly love our neighbors, we refrain from saying anything prejudicial to them. We support everyone as we would like to be supported. We try to give the example that we would like to receive from others. We excuse and forgive the blunders of others as we would like ours to be forgiven and excused. We rejoice in the happiness of others and are sorrowful in their pains, just as we would like them to respond to us in ours. We graciously help others in their needs both by prayer and actual service because in this way we truly show our good-will and love.
Francis de Sales in his incomparable love and goodness was careful to befriend everyone and never to give an occasion for someone to become an enemy. His tendency to please his neighbor and to offend no one was so great that he did whatever he could for each person. He acted thus with a generous heart and did even more than he should have, repeating often this maxim, "What hurts no one but benefits someone should be done willingly." This was his ordinary practice; we ought to imitate him.
Eagerness to "Live Jesus!" will enable us to exercise holy love in all things, great or small. When we assist neighbors in need, we are a loving support, a help and comfort to them. Since we try to see Jesus in everyone, we will serve each regardless of our personal ease and convenience.
O God! How rare is perfect and disinterested charity! It seems to me that this is so because people do not apply themselves to the practice of humility and gentleness. A materialistic spirit and self-interest spoil everything. God wants to eliminate such a spirit in us!
The principal foundation of the spiritual life is love and its most important fruit is union with God and neighbor. Hearts in conflict are closed to heavenly graces, but hearts united in love are open to receive all of God's gifts.
If we wish to remove all barriers to grace in preparation for receiving the great fruits of prayer, we must forgive everyone unreservedly. Let us keep our hearts at peace! Let us try to be gentle yet sincere with our family, friends and acquaintances!
May we live with holy and sincere joy in great gentleness and love for all we meet! To do so will be a source of spiritual blessing for us. For I never have perceived any interior perfection in those who did not love their neighbor.
We ought to cultivate a simple lifestyle, not so as to accumulate wealth for our own material conveniences, but so that we might be charitable to the needy. Let us give generously and boldly to the poor in the name of our Lord. The blessings of peace and joy will be our reward for such stewardship!
We want to glorify God in all things and to love our Beloved with a humble obedience and gentleness of heart. We will acquire this spirit by calmness in our actions and speech. Repetition of such acts will develop in us the habit of gentleness of heart.
If we wish to possess the virtue of neighborly love, we must accustom ourselves to accept people just as they are, regardless of their failings and actions, even those that offend us. Still, we reprove the faults of those under our charge, especially our own children, but in such a way that they know our love for them is constant and unconditional. For while we have no control over our feelings, we do over our actions. To act thus is to be like Jesus, our model!
Gentle love scatters abroad an aura of joy and peace. That is why we try to cherish and please our neighbor. To remain openhearted we must forgive ourselves when we fall and courageously make amends with loving patience. By persevering in such actions, we eventually will be given humble, gracious, and pliable hearts which will enable us to render great services to our Lord.
Loving affirmation consists in supporting our neighbors in whatever they say or do, even if we do not understand, even if their actions displease us. We are not astonished by their shortcomings and failings, nor do we harbor any ill feelings towards them. Rather, our attitudes must be transformed into tender and loving compassion for them. Francis de Sales says that love never searches for evil, and if she happens to stumble over it, even then she does not judge.
May our hearts be enlarged with compassionate loving support of our neighbor! Let us always be ready to serve, assist, console, support, and comfort others as much as possible in a spirit of joy and cordiality. An open heart is a heart disposed to help the neighbor at all times Such a heart loves the will of God above all things.
Cordial love of the neighbor does not consist in feelings. This love flows not from a heart of flesh but from the heart of our will. We must stop twisting and turning about to discover what we like or dislike. Whether we experience aversion or inclination for something really does not matter, provided only that in our wills, we remain firm and unswerving in pure love. Then we will give God proofs of love amidst the strongest distastes and aversions as well as during consolations and sensible love. Only if we proceed in this way will we improve!
"The person who does not sin in speech is perfect,' says Scripture. People offend their neighbors or rather God in their neighbors, at one time by speaking ill of them, at another by remaining silent. Someone speaks well of a person whom I do not like very much. This so displeases me that I remain silent or answer coldly. This response offends God because my lack of esteem and coldness may lessen perhaps the good opinion of the speaker for the person.
If our neighbors, even though strangers, were reduced to such poverty that they required our assistance, we would be obliged to give them what they needed. And if our supplies were sufficient only for our own family, we would cut back on all frills and be content with what was absolutely necessary for life so as to be able more easily to help our neighbors.
May we love everyone, even our dearest friends, only in God, for God, and according to God! To love people in God is the best way of preventing their human imperfections from tarnishing a friendship, even a spiritual one. Love is more perfect if we see and love God in our neighbor because in this way God will be loved above all else, and our neighbor as much as the love of God demands. We have nothing to fear in a love so selfless! How excellent it is to love our neighbor in God! We must guard against the guiles of self-love tempting us away from this total focus on Divine Love! For in loving God in our neighbor, we can never make a mistake!