Jeanne and the Evangelical virtues of Mary

Purity                      “To live interiorly in a full, cordial

effective love of Jesus alone” (Rule 1)

Jeanne had a large beautiful cross erected in her garden.  Often, even at night, she went to it to pray.  How often her gardener, whose silence she bought with gifts, had surprised her there at prayer.  Father Gabriel-Maria alone had been able to penetrate a little into this life entirely hidden in God.“No one knows, he wrote, how much I know about the virtues and perfections with which she was filled.  All her thoughts and her entire delight were to consider how she could be agreeable to God and his worthy Mother.  She was one of those people who had more feeling for God in her prayers than had been seen on earth for ages, without giving signs nor appearance”.

Prudence “Perfect wisdom and prudence: to know how to please God” (Rule 2)

All through her life, Jeanne gave proof of wisdom and prudence.
“She was such a prudent lady that she never spoke nor gave an answer without first of all considering if it would be pleasing to God and the Virgin Mary and to ask their help and their grace to do it well. On important matters people came to her for advice knowing that divine wisdom dwelt in her” (Chr.150)

Humility “The sisters should behave with humility
and obey with simplicity

The Mother Ancilla, on her part, should love her sisters as cherished daughters” (Rule 3)

Jeanne loved a humble and simple life every day. She also loved her girls “as if they were her own children”.  When she went to see them in their convent, she would sit “near the fire place, watching them carry  out their humble tasks and rejoicing with them familiarly”.  She also hid “the gifts and graces which the Lord gave her” revealing them only if she was compelled to do so by her confessor, Father Gabriel-Maria.

Faith “At the example and imitating the Virgin: be firm in faith” (Rule 4)

Before your death, you will found…”  Jeanne lived with that promise for more than thirty years before she saw it fulfilled certain that “if it be the will of God and of his blessed Mother, they will help her in this matter”.  Never, by personal initiative, did she force “the Hour” which would be revealed to her eyes of faith, at the time of the annulment of her wedding.

Praise               “Above all things: learn the art and the science

of divine praise and of prayer” (Rule5)

Every day, Jeanne took part in the Divine Office and the Eucharist was the kernel of her spiritual life.  There, she received exceptional graces, there, she made all her important decisions.  “Her special devotion, we are told by the Annunciade Chronicle, was devotion to the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  Her entire pleasure was to pray to God and always to keep God in her heart, on her lips and in her work.  The science of sciences, she would say, is to know how to praise God”.

Obedience “Without obedience, a sister cannot imagine Good, nor give birth to and produce any good works” (Rule 6)

For Jeanne, contrarieties are like messages bringing news.  She recognized God under the outward appearance of the present moment.  Thus at the foundation of her Order difficulties were many but her obedience to the Church (in the person of Father Gabriel-Maria) was without fault.  Order in honour of the Virgin Mary, the Father did not accede at once to her request.  And, says the Chronicle “hearing her confessor’s answer, the holy lady didn’t contradict him in any way and the matter lay dormant for two years”.

Poverty “The sisters must love and observe carefully the evangelical pearl of poverty” (Rule 7)

Jeanne “had sufficient wealth but her heart was not attached to it”.  For that reason, she distributed her possessions to all those she knew to be in need.  She would say to her girls “be true imitators of the poverty of Jesus and his most worthy Mother”.  It was in contemplating Jesus that Jeanne grasped the true meaning of poverty.  Every year, in the evening of Maundy Thursday she re-enacted Our Lord at the last supper “in washing the feet of thirteen beggars, and the beggars, according to the Chronicle wept on witnessing the humility of the noble lady who, once the ceremony was completed, personally served them a meal”.

Patience

“If God delays in answering them or in letting them find Him the Sisters must persevere in seeking Him. They should be desirous of suffering something for the name of Jesus. (Rule 8)

Jeanne recommended “to keep in mind the Passion and the forgiveness we receive proceeds and also to be patient in adversity and conciliatory towards our neighbour”.  When her husband Duke of Orleans was taken prisoner, Jeanne “was full of sadness at his absence and of patience and kindness towards him.  She visited him and did not cease to beg king Charles VIII, her brother, for his release.  One evening, arriving at the Court in Nantes, she was refused admission.

A captain of the guard, seeing her great patience, offered her his house, offer she accepted for herself and her retinue, without which, continue the Chronicle, the noble lady would have had to spend the night in the street”.

Charity         “All that they do without love, is lost” (Rule 9)

For everyone, Jeanne “is the good Duchess, the mother of the poor widows and orphans, helping them in their need and distress.  She finds out discretely where, in Bourges, are those poor, who are ashamed to show their destitution…”  “Be good, she told her Annunciades, love one another. In seeing you do that, people will know that you are daughters of the Prince of Peace and the Holy Spirit will make his home in you”. 

Between her and Father Gabriel-Maria a true spiritual friendship existed.  Jeanne considered him “as a gift from Mary, esteeming in fact, that he cared for her in Mary and for Mary, that the virgin gave him to her for the spiritual consolation, for her Order and to help her”.  Their feature in common is Mary;  Through Her, they reach harmony with Him whom they wish to serve, and to love: Christ. 

Compassion

“This virtue from the Cross in the tenth  and last, the perfection of religious consists of it.  Mary they be true to Christ, their spouse and to His Mother” (Rule 10)

Jeanne, records Father Gabriel-Maria, asked for “the grace of being ever wounded in her heart by the lance of His Divine Love, so that she would never be aware of any other thing than the wounds “of Christ”.  She felt these wounds in each misery she alleviated, including those that were rejected by the society of her time.  The Virgin brought her close to God, close to her brothers in humanity.  She was a happy person.  She had according to Gabriel-Maria, “the beatitude of the heart”, that is to say Joy, that which proceeds from true charity, from the gift of oneself.

That is why she wanted her Annunciades “to carry in their being this fire of charity which must shine in their heart from an outpouring of joy on their face by their freedom of heart, the opening of the soul which charity bears with itself”.

Pictures: Stained glass windows in the Chapel of the convent of the Annunciade of Thiais ©Maître Jacques Avoinet