Wednesday, August 12, 2009


“St. Jane Frances De Chantal”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[In the Dioceses of the United States]*


Biographical Information about St. Jane Frances De Chantal [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Jane Frances De Chantal

Readings and Commentary:

Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her,
has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil,
all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax
and makes cloth with skillful hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward of her labors,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

Commentary on
Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

This entire section (Proverbs 31:10-31) is an acrostic poem (each strophe starting with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet). It is sincere praise for the virtuous wife (unlike Ecclesiastes 7:28 in which the author finds guile) and is intended to be a model for the good Hebrew wife to follow. The strophes selected emphasize first the esteem in which she is to be held by all (not just her family), and next the example of diligence in the tasks she performs. The concluding strophe is praise for the woman who “fears the Lord,” as indicated earlier in Proverbs 9:10 and 1:7. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.


Psalm 131:1bcde, 2,3

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

O LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor are my eyes haughty;
I busy not myself with great things,
nor with things too sublime for me.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother's lap,
so is my soul within me.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

O Israel, hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.
Commentary on
Ps 131:1bcde, 2,3

Psalm 131 is an individual lament praying for harmony and humility among the members of the community. The singer proclaims trust in the Lord and peace, like children's contented peace, secure in the knowledge of the love and protection of their parents.

CCC: Ps 131:2 239; Ps 131:2-3 370
Mark 3:31-35

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived.
Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
"Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you."
But he said to them in reply,
"Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother."

Commentary on
Mk 3:31-35

This passage, while affirming our own adoption as brothers and sisters in Christ, does cause some confusion among those who take scripture at face value without understanding the culture of the time. The first part of this reading from St. Mark’s Gospel is somewhat controversial in that many of the Protestant and Evangelical apologists take the term “and his brothers” to mean his familial or biological brothers. The Church teaches that Mary bore only one child – Jesus. Responding to this scripture, Catholic scripture scholars teach that “…in Semitic usage, the terms "brother," "sister" are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters; cf Genesis 14:16; Genesis 29:15; Leviticus 10:4.” [3]

Another possible explanation, although it comes from an apocryphal source from the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD, is that the Lord’s foster father, St. Joseph, had been previously married (and widowed). According to “The History of Joseph the Carpenter” from this first marriage, [2.] “… he begot for himself sons and daughters, four sons, namely, and two daughters. Now these are their names— Judas, Justus, James, and Simon. The names of the two daughters were Assia and Lydia.” These would have been the half-brothers and sisters of the Lord.

Because of this, when Mary comes looking for Jesus in this selection, she is, as would be expected, joined by members of the extended family. Jesus extends the family even further though his adoption of those “seated in the circle” who listen to his word and believe, telling those gathered that “…whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

CCC: Mk 3:31-35 500

A brief study of the life of St. Jane Frances De Chantal gives us a picture of a woman of great strength of faith expressed in a life so virtuous that she was able to overcome great obstacles to provide for her family and, by establishing the Order of Visitation, bring others to faith and obedience to Jesus. Compounding the heroic virtue she demonstrated was the very environment in which her fidelity and long-suffering obedience to her faith was demonstrated. It was an era in French history when privileged decadence was rampant. In her status as Baroness she could easily have assumed a much more comfortable lifestyle. Yet she embraced humility, chastity, and charity with such strength of character as to stimulate
St. Francis de Sales to say of her “"In Madame de Chantal I have found the perfect woman, whom Solomon had difficulty in finding in Jerusalem". [4]

By her life and example we see what is meant by God’s adoption of us as his Children. Jesus said in St. Mark’s Gospel above that “…whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." Clearly St. Jane accomplished that noble goal and in doing so showed us that even under the most difficult circumstances our own fidelity to the Lord will be rewarded.

Today we celebrate not just the Memorial of St. Jane Frances De Chantal and her triumphant legacy but all those, especially women who persevere in the face of great challenges and worldly pressures. May Christ’s abundant love and the strength of the Holy Spirit buoy them up and provide them with peace.


*St. Jane's feast day was moved to this date in 2002 (previously August 18) Missale Romanum, edicio typica tertia

[1] The picture is “St. Jane Frances De Chantal”, Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
[3] From the reference note on Mark 6; 3 in the NAB
[4] Pernin, R. (1910). St. Jane Frances de Chantal. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved August 12, 2009 from New Advent:

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