Tag Archives: France

Little Sisters of Jesus

Everyone always says that the Church in France is dead or dying but there are always wonderful signs of life. Today, I stumbled across this newish order of women called the Little Sisters of the Consolation of the Sacred Heart and the Holy Face. When I first saw the habit I thought: Charles de Foucauld. There is no mistaking the red heart with the red crucifix coming out of the top.

While Charles de Foucauld did not found any orders of men or women during his lifetime, after his death many Little Sisters or Little Brothers of Jesus have cropped up around the world, taking their inspiration from Charles’ humble and solitary life. These particular sisters were founded in 1989 in the diocese of Frejus-Toulon (Provence-France) and seem to be an active/contemplative order with an apostolate for children, the elderly and the sick. They say the Office in Latin.

Charles is not yet a saint but he continues to inspire people, almost 100 years after his sudden death. His alone-ness, his thirst for Jesus in the Eucharist and the value he saw in silent fraternity with the poor moves people to give Jesus their all.

Charles de Foucauld himself was a child of privilege, born in 1858 in Strasbourg, France. Leading a selfish and irreligious life that was a scandal to his family, he told a priest that he had trouble believing in God. The priest told him, “What is missing now, in order for you to believe in God is a pure heart. Go down on your knees, make your confession to God and you will believe.” This is exactly what happened. Charles left the Church filled with “that infinite peace, that dazzling light, that unfailing happiness.”

Charles eventually became a monk and moved to Algeria where he lived alone in the desert until he was killed in 1916 by rebels. Despite having few companions in life, after death he inspired many to live his life of poverty and solitude in imitation of Jesus in His hidden life in Nazareth. In the 1930’s, the Little Sisters of Jesus and the Little Brothers of Jesus were founded and established their first foundations in North Africa. Today, they are virtually in every country in the world or close to it. I stumbled across a Little Sister in an Israeli desert who gave me cookies and juice from her meager rations.

The evangelization that I am called to live is not through the word but through the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass. It is through prayer and penance and the practice of the Gospel virtues – love, fraternal and universal love, sharing even my last mouthful of bread with every poor person, with every visitor, every stranger, and welcoming each person as a beloved brother or sister. -Charles de Foucauld



Year of Faith Saint for the Month

For years, I been receiving a monthly newsletter from Abbaye Saint-Joseph de Clairval in France which usually features a saint or blessed of the Church. These newsletters are 4 dense pages of meaty information liberally laced with quotes from the Holy Father commenting on the relevance for the saint for today. These newsletters are free (sign up here) but donations are welcome. Their goal is to spread the Faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In 2012, the Abbey celebrated the 40th anniversary of their founding. They are a community of monks living according to the Rule of Saint Benedict in obedience to the Catholic hierarchy. They were founded in Switzerland in 1972 but came to France in 1976. A Benedictine monastery was in the town from the 7th century until the French Revolution but the monks of today, who number about 50, now reside in the former minor seminary.

The Abbey has beautiful gifts for sale, including a new CD of Gregorian chant in honor of St. Joseph (available in March). The Liturgy of the Hours is sung in Latin with Gregorian chant. They also conduct retreats both at the abbey and in other countries following the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

“I will ask for an intimate knowledge of Our Lord who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.”
Spiritual Exercises, no. 104

Visitation Nuns 400th Anniversary Pilgrimage

Revolutions come and go, and today’s social milieu will change with the wind, but for four hundred years a group of nuns have born witness to the merciful heart of Jesus through their lives of gentleness and humility.

The Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, founded in 1610 in France, has grown to a worldwide congregation of active and cloistered sisters, and today they can be found in nearly every country. The cloistered Visitation nuns from Toledo, Ohio, recently made a pilgrimage to Annecy, France, where the congregation was founded, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of their founding.

A new video made for the occasion captures the spirit of the Visitation and chronicles the happy excursions of the sisters in the areas once walked by their founders, St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. The video opens with a beautiful panorama of the valley surrounding Annecy.

Delighted to See the Nuns

“We walked everywhere,” the sisters said. “Going to the basilica was always ‘up’ and a steep climb. It allowed us to meet the people who seem delighted to see this large group of nuns, and were all smiles.”

Join the sisters as they journey the next 400 years as they walk in the footsteps of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal. The video capturing the spirit of the pilgrimage was released on January 2, 2012, and has received more than 2,500 views.