For all the saints who from their labors rest,who Thee by faith before the world confessed; Thy name,Jesus,be forever blest.Alleluia, Alleluia!
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day; the saints triumphant rise in bright array; the King of glory passes on his way. Alleluia, Alleluia!
From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast, through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, and singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost: Alleluia, Alleluia!
Service Well-Pleasing to God, let mutual love continue. Hebrews 13:1
I love a good story don't you? Especially when it has something to offer in teaching or reminding me to look deeper at the simple. That is the story of Staint Jeanne Jugan foundress of "The Little Sisters of the Poor".
Born Oct 25th, 1792 in Northern France, Jeanne was the sixth of eight children to Joseph and Marie Jugan. She was born during the political and religious upheavals of the French Revolution. Her Father Joseph a fisherman, died when she was four years old as the result of being swept out to sea. Her widowed mother struggled to provide for the family in their meager one room cottage, but she somehow provided for them to learn their faith even in the midst of religious persecution. At 16 she became a kitchen maid to an afluent family that not only cared for its members but also served poor, elderly people nearby. The home was that of a very devout woman named Viscountess del la Choue. Jeanne would accompany her when she visited the sick and poor. Here she would learn by example the meaning of truly Christian charity.
At age 18 she was proposed to, but declined telling her mother that God had other plans and was calling her to a work which was not yet founded. Later she became a nurse at a hospital in Le Rosais. She could hardly read or write, but she would work hard and six years later due to her own health issues have to leave. During her time as a nurse she had joined a third order group founded by St. John Eudes. And it was through her involvement in the third order that she meets and becomes friends with a women whom she will later go live with, that when God's calling on her life starts to take shape.
It is during the time she leaves her work at the hospital she becomes a servant to her friend from the third order. Together they pray and visit the poor and teach catechism to children. After the death of this friend Jeanne continues this work along with two other women in the city of Saint-Sevran. It is here they obtain an apartment in 1839 and Jeanne brings home their first permanent guest, an elderly blind woman , straving with no resources who needs care. Through this experience she vows to care for the elderly. There would be struggles as they begin an association, receive more members and more guests. Saint Jeanne persevered in faith. She is quoted as saying
"With the eyes of faith, we must see Jesus in our old people-for they are God's mouthpiece."
"Mere Marie of the Cross" as Jeanne was known founded six more houses for the elderly by the end of 1849 and all were staffed by members of her association "The Little Sisters of the Poor". Putting aside personal pride, the Little Sisters daily went out door to door asking for food clothing and money. By 1853 the association numbered 500 and had houses as far away as England.
Saint Jeanne would say a Hail Mary said "in simple faith would take us to heaven". A simple faith, an act of obedience, it is love that would come to house so many forgotten and without resources. Today her work continues throughout the world caring for the elderly and forgotten. Wow what a story. But Jeanne Jugan was not canonized because she founded a religious congregation, nor because her work spread all over the world or even because the elderly still need a friend more today than ever.
She was declared a saint because she practiced heroic virtue. Heroes are people we look up too. People we want to be like. Jeanne is a hero in virtue because:
FAITH-it enabled her to see God in the elderly.
HOPE-because she knew God would not abandon the poor.
LOVE- through love she gave all she had to the poor, an imitation of Jesus who gave his life for us.
She was crowned with HUMILITY, she identified with the forsaken, taken on their burdens, she would go out and beg in their place. She allowed herself to be set aside and forgotten.
But what really strikes me is she died in obsurity at the motherhouse. She died on August 29, 1879. She loved Our Lady and believed in the power of her intercession. Jeanne's last words were for Mary.
"O Mary, you know that I love you and that I greatly long to see you".
To all the elderly sitting alone, for those without resources and family, without someone to look out for them, let us throw open the window of faith that sees Christ in all people, no matter what the difficulties.
Saint Jeanne Jugan the Little Sister with the big Heart, Pray for us!
Hail Mary full of grace......
To Jesus through Mary-Susan Sabahi