Saint Jane Frances de Chantel (1572-1641), mother, tireless servant to the poor and needy, friend and follower of Saint Frances de Sales, and co-founder of the New Order of the Visitation. Saint Jane Frances lived an extraordinary life of simple submission to the Will of God—which is anything but simple! To her daughters of the Order, she delivered countless lessons, including the following reflection on prayer:
Mortification and prayer are the two wings by which one may take flight into those holy resting places where one finds peace in God far from the business of men.
If when beginning prayer we could make ourselves a mere capacity for God, no other method would be required. Prayer must be carried on by grace, and not by deliberate art. Enter into your prayer by faith, remain in it in hope and do not abandon it except for that charity which serves and endures.
In prayer one must hold fast and never let go, because the one who gives up loses all. If it seems that no one is listening to you, then cry out even louder. If you are driven out of one door, go back in by the other. If you are told, as was the Canaanite woman, that you do not deserve the grace for which you are asking, then reply like her that you are not seeking unusual favors, but are hoping only to eat the crumbs which fall from the divine table.
Let us be sure that we understand what an honor it is for us to spend time in prayer, as much time as we wish, as intimately as we wish. The man who wins an hour-long audience from his prince, considers himself lucky. And our God, before whom the kings of the earth are less than a spark in the full blaze of the sun, and less than a little worm in the presence of the highest angels -- this great God, nevertheless, is eager to hear us no matter what hour of the day or night we turn to Him.
With God there is no need for long speeches. In heaven the angels utter no other word than this: HOLY. This is their entire prayer, and in paradise they are occupied with this single word as an act of homage to the single Word of God who lives eternally.
In prayer, more is accomplished by listening than by talking.
A good and perfect prayer requires that we forget self, that we be ready to sacrifice all that we are for God.
We should go to prayer with deep humility and an awareness of our nothingness. We must invoke the help of the Holy Spirit and that of our good angel, and them remain still during this time in God's presence, full of faith that He is more in us than we are in ourselves.
There is no danger if our prayer is without words or consideration, because the good success of prayer depends neither on words nor on study. It depends upon the simple raising of our minds to God, and the more simple and stripped of feeling it is, the surer it is.
The essence of prayer lies not in being always on your knees, but in conforming your will totally to God in all the events of life.
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."