Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Saint Jane Frances De Chantal

Jane was born in Dijon, in France. Her father was a devout man and brought up his children well after the death of his wife.

Jane, whom he dearly loved, married Christopher, the baron de Chantal. Jane and Christopher loved each other very much. God blessed them with six children, four of whom lived. Jane showed her love for God by loving her husband and children with her whole heart.

Then, suddenly, that happy home suddenly became sad. Baron Christopher was accidentally shot by a friend who had gone hunting with him. When he died, Jane was heart-broken. She forgave the man who had caused his death and even became his child's godmother. Jane asked the Lord to send a holy priest into her life to guide her. In the meantime, she prayed and brought up her children in the love of God. She visited the poor and the sick and comforted the dying.

When she met Saint Francis de Sales, she knew this was the holy man God had sent to guide her. We celebrate his feast on January 24. Under his guidance, Jane and three other young women started the order of the Visitation. But first, she had to make sure that her children, although older, were settled.

Although she had other responsibilities and challenges, Jane tried to follow God's plan as she saw it, no matter how difficult. Jane faced all the difficulties with courage. She opened up many convents and prayed to God for help when she was tempted to do wrong.

St. Vincent de Paul, wrote "Despite all her suffering, her face never lost its peaceful look. And she was always faithful to God. So I consider her one of the holiest souls I have ever met."

St. Jane died on December 13, 1641. We celebrate her feast day on August 18th.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Saint Catherine Laboure

Zoe Laboure, was born at Burgundy in France as the bells of the Angelus sounded. She was the ninth of eleven children of Peter and Louise Laboure had. Her father Peter, was a rich French farmer.

When Zoe was just nine years old her mother died. Zoe was her father's favourite and he depended on her. When she was twelve, she received her First Holy Communion. From that day on she got up at 4:00 am every morning and walked many miles to church to attend Mass.

Her older sister became a nun and Zoe had to run the house. Zoe, would have liked to enter the convent when she was in her early teens but because she was needed at home, she waited until she was twenty-four. She became a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and took the name of Catherine.

When she finished her training, Sister Catherine received a special favor. She prayed to St. Vincent de Paul that she might see with her own eyes the mother of God. Catherine was sure her wish would be granted.

One night, she was awakened from sleep by a brilliant light and the voice of a child saying "Sister Laboure, come to the Chapel, the Blessed Virgin awaits you." Catherine followed the little Angel who touched the locked Chapel doors and they swung open. The Blessed Virgin appeared with a rustle of silk in a blaze of glory and spoke with Catherine.

Then one Advent, in another vision, the Blessed Mother showed herself standing on a globe with streams of light coming from her hands. Underneath were the words: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who turn to thee!" The Virgin this time gave her a direct order: "Have a medal struck as I have shown you. All who wear it will receive great graces."

Sister Catherine told her confessor and he later told the bishop. So it was that the medal, which we call the miraculous medal, was made. Soon many, many people all over the world were wearing it. Yet no one in the convent knew that humble Sister Catherine was the one to whom Our Lady had appeared.

She spent the remaining forty-five years of her life doing ordinary convent tasks. She answered the door. She looked after the hens that provided the nuns with eggs. She also took care of elderly and sick people.

She was happy to keep her special privilege hidden, and was only interested in serving God as best she could. Then before she died in 1876, Mother Mary gave her permission to reveal her secret, which she shared with her Sister Superior. After she died, many miracles were reported at her tomb. Her feast day is November 28th.

Lord Jesus Christ, You were pleased to gladden the holy Virgin Catherine by the wonderful apparition of Your Immaculate Mother. Grant that by following the example of this saint we may obtain the joy of eternal life.