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Thirty Days with St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Fr. Scott Haynes


Day 1 "When the time for placing ourselves in the presence of His Divine goodness to speak alone to Him alone is come, which we call prayer, the sole presence of our spirit before His and of His before ours, forms the prayer, whether we have good thoughts and good sentiments, or whether we have not. It is only necessary, with all simplicity, without making any violent effort of spirit, to keep ourselves before Him, with motions of love and the attention of our whole soul, without any voluntary distractions."

- (Jewels of St. Jane Frances de Chantal)

Day 2 "Human that we are, because we see Him not, we behave in an unseemly manner and commit faults before Him and even in Him. We see not our Lord, but we are taught by faith that He is present in all things; moreover, that He dwells in our hearts in a particular way by assistance and by grace. But alas, my God, we are blind, and because we see You not, we easily lose the remembrance of Your Divine Presence."

- (Jewels of St. Jane Frances de Chantal)

Day 3 "All God wants is our heart. And he is more pleased when we value our uselessness and weakness out of love and reverence for his holy will, than when we do violence to ourselves and perform great works of penance. Now, you know that the peak of perfection lies in our wanting to be what God wishes us to be: so, having given you a delicate constitution, he expects you to take care of it and not demand of it what he himself, in his gentleness, does not ask for."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 4 "We think not enough of this truth, that God is present with us, that He sees our thoughts, even long before we have them. That He knows what we think and shall think better than we ourselves, that He sees the folds and recesses of our heart and of this other truth, that nothing happens to us but by the order of Providence. We should all be saints if we well apprehended these truths. And truly, it is a great consolation to know that God sees the bottom of our heart."

- (Jewels of St. Jane Frances de Chantal)

Day 5 "Since the Divine Savior deigns to dwell continually in us as in His temple, I entreat you, be faithful to abide with Him and leave Him not, except to see and do what He commands, and then return at once and resume this holy and simple attention near Him. This practice is a great means of doing all our actions with love. For this reason I recommend it to you with all my heart."

- (Answers of St. Jane de Chantal)

Day 6 "Cast your care and your thoughts on the Lord and he will support you. Souls dedicated to God should have no other tomorrow than Divine Providence. Let us have no care or affection but to do our duty well, and most assuredly our good Savior will provide for the rest. But let us wait with patience and trust, without being shaken; for sometimes he delays his help to try our confidence. When he tarries, let us wait for him in peace."

- (Answers of St. Jane de Chantal)

Day 7 "Since God, in his eternal goodness, has moved you to consecrate all your love, your actions, your works, and your whole self to him utterly without any self-interest but only for his greater glory and his satisfaction, remain firm in this resolve. With the confidence of a son, rest in the care and love which Divine Providence has for you in all your needs. Look upon Providence as a child does its mother who loves him tenderly. You can be sure that God loves you incomparably more."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 8 "Here is a little model of what we should do when we are taken by surprise as we row peacefully in our little boat. When all our emotions arise to stir up a great internal storm that seems certain to overwhelm us or drag us after it, we must not wish to calm this tempest ourselves. Rather, we must gently draw near the shore, keeping our will firmly in God, and coast along with the little waves; by humble knowledge of ourselves, we will reach God, who is our sure port. Let us go gently along without agitation or anxiety and without giving in to our emotions."

- (St. Jane de Chantal: Exhortations, Conferences and Instructions)

Day 9 "Honor God in one another whose temples you have now become. Now, God being the foundation of this honor, we shall find him equally in all. Whether poor or rich, noble or of low estate, perfect or imperfect, all are made the temple of God. It follows that if we have the sight of this truth well imprinted in our minds, we shall honor and mutually respect each other alike, not in gestures, looks, and words, but indeed and in truth."

- (Answers of St. Jane de Chantal)

Day 10 "It is true that in the life we must always be beginning anew; but if it were not so where should we be? For this is essential to our humility and to confidence, the two virtues our good God asks of us. Be brave, train yourself to courage. Keep a light heart, and above all put sadness far from you. God is wholly ours, and we have no other wish than to be wholly His. How then can we be solicitous about anything whatever?"

- (Selected Letters of St. Jane de Chantal)

Day 11 "When you have committed some fault, go to God humbly, saying to Him, "I have sinned, my God, and I am sorry." Then, with loving confidence, add: 'Father, pour the oil of your bountiful mercy on my wounds, for You are my only hope; heal me.' Sometimes put yourself very simply before God, certain of His presence everywhere, and without any effort, whisper very softly to His sacred heart whatever your own heart prompts you to say."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 12 "Our blessed Father's advice to 'ask for nothing and refuse nothing' is far superior to this desire of yours or any other practice of humility. I admit that God wants you to be humble, but in the ways he chooses for you, not in those you would choose. So make good use of your own failures and shortcomings. You may be certain that these are the only means by which you will acquire the true and solid humility that he wants you to have."

- (Sermon for 3rd Sunday of Lent)

Day 13 "Show a childlike trust and gentleness toward one another supporting each one in mutual charity. Never be astonished at the faults of the community or of any individual sister, for to be shocked at our sisters' faults, to pick them apart, examine them, to get all upset about them is the sign of a narrow mindedness which has no insight into human frailty, and very little charity and forbearance."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 14 "Let us then be well on our guard, and let us love our neighbor so tenderly as never to let a single word escape that might hurt them. Let us bear with them, as we would wish to be borne with by them; let us give them good example, as we desire them to give us. Let us excuse and cover their faults, as we would have them cover and excuse our own. Let us help them cordially by our prayers, and render them all the services in our power; for it is in this that our love and charity must be shown."

- (Answers of St. Jane de Chantal)

Day 15 "Happy are those who walk straight on the road to heaven without losing their time in thinking whether or not they are advancing. Go forward always and make no reflections on self. God leads you by the hand. Be quite confident that if you persevere you will make a happy journey. Continue to live joyously. Your fears are nothing but temptations."

- (Jewels of St. Jane Frances de Chantal)

Day 16 "During the activities of the day, spiritual as well as temporal, as often as you can, unite your will to God's by confirming your morning resolution. Do this either by a simple, loving glance at God, or by a few words spoken quietly and cast into his heart, by assenting in words like "Yes, Lord, I want to do this action because you want it," or simply, "Yes, Father," or, "O Holy Will, live and rule in me," or other words that the Holy Spirit will suggest to you."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 17 "About your desire to make some return to God for the exceptional graces he has bestowed on you, in my opinion, his divine light penetrates right through these graces to the bottom of your soul, and he will be satisfied if you hold on to them without taking the trouble to do great things or to search out occasions to do so. Simply be ready to carry them out when his divine will presents them to you."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 18 "Try to perform your actions as perfectly as you can, without constraint or anxiety. When you find yourself committing some fault or other, just humble yourself quietly before God by a simple acknowledgment of the fault, and think no more about it. Our holy Founder (Francis de Sales) used to say that since God did not make us angels, we must put up with our human nature and be satisfied with the level of purity which, humanly speaking, we can achieve."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 19 "What I mean is that in all your good works you should unite yourself to the will of God's good pleasure, and in your faults and imperfections, you should unite yourself to his permissive will gently, quietly, and with peace of mind. Our blessed Father (Francis) used to say, "Let us do all the good we can, faithfully, peacefully, and quietly; and when we are unfaithful, let us make up for this failure by humility, but a humility that is gentle and tranquil."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 20 "Abandon all your desires for advancement and perfection; hand them over completely into God's hands. Leave the care of them to him, and only yearn for as much perfection as he wishes to give you. Have only a pure, simple, peaceful longing to please God, and, as I have said before, this will lead you to act without such impetuosity and over-eagerness, but with peace and gentleness."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 21 "As for the will of God's good pleasure, which we know only through events as they occur, if these events benefit us, we must bless God and unite ourselves to this divine will which sends them. If something occurs which is disagreeable, physically or mentally, let us lovingly unite our will in obedience to the divine good pleasure, despite our natural aversion. We must pay no attention to these feelings, so long as at the fine point of our will we acquiesce very simply to God's will, saying. "O my God, I want this because it is your good pleasure". Whatever good or evil befalls you, be confident that God will convert it all to your good."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 22 "With entire trust we commit ourselves to Divine Providence, living from day to day with neither forethought nor care for ourselves, but doing well at each moment what we are ordered to do according to our vocation. If we faithfully make use of occasions as they present themselves, we may be certain that God, for his glory and our sanctification, will not fail to provide us with greater opportunities."

- (Selected Letters of St. Jane de Chantal)

Day 23 "They who are led by this path (the prayer of simple surrender) are obliged to great purity of heart, submission and total dependence on God. They should keep a very simple mind in everything, and cut off reflection on the past, on the present, and on the future; and instead of looking at what they are doing or shall do, they should look at God, and forget themselves, as far as possible, that they may continually remember him; uniting their mind to his goodness, in all that happens to them from moment to moment, and that very simply."

- (Answers of St. Jane de Chantal)

Day 24 "You must respond faithfully to the lights that God will give you, no matter what it costs you, for really, the love which God, in His goodness, has for you, and which he manifests so openly by such excellent, solid graces, requires a reciprocal love, according to the measure of your weakness and poverty. This perfect abandonment of yourself in the arms of divine Providence, this loving acceptance of all that He wishes to do with you…all this is the wood that will feed the fire of sacred love which you feel in your heart and continually desire."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 25 "Tell me, if you were mothers of families, would you send your servants and your children to work in the fields or prune the vines without providing them with the tools necessary for doing what you wanted them to do? Are we to think that God asks us to do something and does not at the same time give us the assistance necessary for carrying out His commands? No, God is never wanting to us."

- (St. Jane de Chantal: Exhortations, Conferences and Instructions)

Day 26 "Try to calm your passions and inclinations and live according to sound reason and the holy will of God. Otherwise, you will always be anxious and perturbed. But if you are fortunate enough to accept with patience and gentleness the sorrows and difficulties of this life, which God sends to those He loves for their growth and progress toward blessedness, then even in this life you will begin to get a little taste of the delights of a glorious eternity. May God, in his kindness, grant us this grace."

- (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

Day 27 "All the repugnances of which you speak, all your feelings, diversions, difficulties, are all to my judgment for your greater good, and you are found not to yield to them. You should keep making resolutions every day to fight and resist them; nevertheless, when you fall, say even fifty times a day, never on any account be astonished or uneasy, but quite gently reproach yourself, and take up again the practice of the contrary virtue, saying all the time words of love and confidence to Our Lord."

- (Selected Letters of St. Jane de Chantal)

Day 28 "In the hands of God, the soul must become like clay in the hands of a potter, who from it can form any sort of dish; or, if you like, the soul must become like soft wax receptive to the impressions of a seal, or like a blank sheet upon which the Holy Spirit writes His divine will. If, when entering prayer, we could make ourselves a mere capacity for receiving the spirit of God, this would suffice for all method. Prayer must be carried on by grace, and not by deliberate art."

- (Treatise on the Love of God 12.13)

Day 29 "Mortification and prayer are the two wings by which one may take one's flight into those holy resting places in which one may find one's peace with God far from the business of men…We must not allow ourselves to think that by means of mortification alone, without the aid of prayer, a soul will ever take flight in order to raise itself to God. Penances without prayer are useless pains; prayer without penance is food without salt which easily goes stale. Hence it is absolutely necessary to fit our souls with these two holy wings in order that we may make our flight to the heavenly court in which we may find contentment of soul in conversation with God."

- (Treatise on the Love of God 12.13)

Day 30 "All the day and at each hour, at each moment, if possible, let us raise our hearts to God. Let us keep ourselves in the disposition to be guided by His divine goodness and to acquiesce promptly in the effects of His good pleasure in everything He shall permit to happen to us. This is the only and true means of being in the disposition to receive graces God has prepared for us."

- (St. Jane de Chantal: Exhortations, Conferences and Instructions)

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