Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saint Julie Billiart


Mary Rose Julie Billiart was born in Belgium. She was the sixth of seven children. Her parents Jean-Frangois Billiart and Marie-Louise-Antoinette Debraine were peasant farmers. Her uncle, the village school teacher, taught her to read and write.

Although she was not a very good student, she loved to study her catechism. In fact, when she was just seven, Julie knew her catechism by heart and would explain it to other little children. When her parents became poor, she worked hard to help support the family. She even went to harvest the crops. Yet she always found time to pray, to visit the sick, and to teach catechism.

When she was fourteen she decided she would not marry but give her life to God. Instead she spent her life serving and teaching the poor.

While she was still a young woman, she was sitting beside her father when some one shot at him. The shock made her very ill and completely paralyzed. Although helpless, Julie offered her prayers so that sinners would find eternal happiness with God. She was closer to God than ever and kept on teaching catechism from bed.

Julie was very holy and people came to her for advice because she helped them grow closer to Jesus and practice their faith with more love. She encouraged everyone who came to her to receive Holy Communion often.

Many young women were inspired by Julie's love for God. They were willing to spend their time and money for good works. With Julie as their leader, they started the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and were devoted to the Christian education of girls.

Once a priest gave a mission in the town where Julie was. He asked her to make a novena with him for an intention which was a secret. After five days, on the feast of the Sacred Heart, he said: "Mother, if you have faith, take one step in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus." Mother Billiart, who had been paralyzed for twenty-two years, stood up and was healed!

St. Julie spent the rest of her life looking after and training young women to become sisters. People who did not understand her mission, hurt her a lot, but she always trusted God. Her favorite words were: "How good is the good God."

God rewarded her by helping her religious congregation to grow. By the time St. Julie died on April 8, 1816, there were already fifteen convents. Today there are many of St. Julie's sisters of Notre Dame all over the world.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Blessed Joan of Toulouse


A few Carmelite brothers from Palestine started a monastery in Toulouse, France in 1240. The great Carmelite priest, St. Simon Stock, visited Toulouse twenty-five years later. A good and devout woman asked to see him. She introduced herself simply as Joan.

Joan earnestly asked the priest if she could join the Carmelite order as an associate. St. Simon Stock who was the head of the order agreed and granted Joan’s request. Joan became the first lay associate. She received the habit of the Carmelite order and in the presence of St. Simon Stock, she made a promise to always be chaste and pure.

Joan continued her quiet, simple life in her own home. She tried to be as faithful as possible to the rules of the Carmelites for the rest of her life. Joan went to daily Mass and devotions at the Carmelite church.

She spent the rest of the day visiting the poor, the sick and the lonely. She trained the altar boys. She helped the elderly and those who were weak and frail by performing tasks and running errands for them. Joan prayed with them and brightened many lives with her cheerful conversations.

Blessed Joan carried a picture of the crucified Jesus in her pocket. That was her "book." Every now and then, she would pull out the picture and gaze at it. Her eyes would light up. People said that Joan read some new and wonderful lesson every time she studied the picture.