Today makes me contemplate service to the greater Church. Sometimes the rules get in the way, and people who serve at the behest of God, filling in the gaps left by other services, can be seen as outside of the needs or rules of the Church. But that would be wrong. Service to the Eucharist, to the community, calls us to seek out and serve the marginalized or the under-served regardless of the thinking of established means of service deeply rooted within the Faith.
Francis de Sales recognized this and encouraged the everyday to be of service. He saw in Jane Frances a means of engaging even more people in the everyday service of the World, people not seen as "fit" for such service by the rigorous standards of the day. She started with his encouragement and guidance but soon had to blaze her own path after his death, fighting opposition, ignorance, and her own doubts to live out her call.
She served the marginalized so that they could in turn server others.
She started out in what might be considered a typical life; she grew up with a widowed father; she married, inherited debt and struggled to make ends meet; lost her love to a hunting accident and struggled with forgiving the man who shot him; raised her children but saw many lost to disease; and so on and so on. The usual up and down life that we all live.
It is her finding and deepening her Faith throughout her life which led her to Francis de Sales, and that which allowed her to continue on in service. It is taking her Faith, a grain of salt, good humor and applying it to her call that distinguishes her. Her ability to give over her joy, her grief, her pain, her sorrow, her laughter, her tears to God, to surrender to His care and to view all things through that lens that challenges us to do the same whatever our station in life. We do not need Francis de Sales as our spiritual advisor to be inspired by him and by Jane Frances to live the spiritual life amidst our everyday.
I gave four days to the Exercises (Retreat), and no more, on account of the amount of business that has come unexpectedly upon me. During those days I realized how much I need to labor at acquiring humility and at bearing with my neighbor. I have been trying to acquire these virtues during the past year, and with Our Lord s help have practiced them somewhat. But it is His doing, not mine, and if it please Him I will so continue as He gives me many opportunities for the practice of them. For my part it seems to me that I am in a simple state of waiting on the good pleasure of God to do what ever He wills with me. I have no desires, no plans; I hold to nothing, and very willingly leave myself in His hands; still, I do this without sensible devotion, but I think it is all right at the bottom of my heart.
-- From a letter to St. Vincent de Paul
Things to Think About