Thursday, August 30, 2012

St. Jeanne Jugan

Today is the feast of the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor. As we reflect on part of Blessed John Paul II’s homily when he beatified her in 1982, let us pray that young people find true happiness in following Christ rather than the ways of the world.

Jeanne invites all of us, and I quote here from the Rule of the Little Sisters, “to share in the beatitude of spiritual poverty, leading to that complete dispossession which commits a soul to God.” She invites us to this much more by her life than by those few words of hers which have been recorded and which are so marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit, such as these: “It is so beautiful to be poor, to have nothing, to await all from God.” Joyfully aware of her poverty, she depended completely on Divine Providence, which she saw operative in her own life and in that of others. Still, this absolute confidence did not make her inactive. With the courage and faith that characterizes the women of her native land, she did not hesitate to beg on behalf of the poor whom she cared for. She saw herself as their sister, their “Little Sister.” She wanted to identify herself with all those elderly who were, often, more or less infirm and sometimes even abandoned. Is not this the Gospel in its pure form (cf. Mt. 25:35–41)? Is not this the way which the Third Order of Saint John Eudes had taught her: “to have one life, one heart, one soul, one will, with Jesus,” to reach out to those whom Jesus had always preferred: the little ones and the poor? …

Saint John Eudes, her spiritual master, used to say, “The real measure of sanctity is humility.” By the fact of so often repeating to the novices, “Be little, stay little! Keep the spirit of humility, of littleness! If we begin to consider ourselves as something, the Congregation would no longer cause God to be honored and we would fall,” Jeanne was really disclosing her own spiritual experience. … In our day, pride, the pursuit of efficacy, the temptation to use power, all run rampant, and sometimes, unfortunately, even in the Church. They become an obstacle to the coming of the Kingdom of God. This is why the spirituality of Jeanne Jugan can attract the followers of Christ and fill their hearts with simplicity and humility, with hope and evangelical joy having their source in God and in forgetfulness of self. Her spiritual message can lead all those baptized and confirmed to a rediscovery and a practice of that realistic charity which is stunningly effective in the life of a Little Sister or of a lay person when the God of Love and mercy reigns there completely.

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