There is no better way to sum up Jeanne Jugan’s spirituality than in Jesus’ own words:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.… Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”
Drawn from the Gospel and influenced by two great masters of catholic spirituality, Jeanne’s spirituality is a unique gift of the Holy Spirit for the Church.
All for you, my Jesus!
From St. John Eudes, a master of the French school of spirituality, Jeanne learned that the Christian life is a continuation of Jesus’ life and virtues. “We must be so many other Christs on earth,” he taught, “in order to continue here his life and work.”
Jeanne was especially drawn to “continue” the humility of Christ. She was so conformed to her Master that his words became her own: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart” … “To be good Little Sisters,” she often said, “we must be very little, very humble.”
To Jesus through Mary
Jeanne Jugan learned from St. John Eudes that “to come to the heart of Mary is to come to Jesus.” She loved Our Lady and believed in the power of her intercession. She radiated her humility, purity and spirit of joyful service. “The Hail Mary will take us to heaven,” she often said. Jeanne’s last words on earth were for Mary: “O Mary, you know that I love you and that I greatly long to see you …”
One with the poor
Through the religious community he founded, St. John of God communicated to Jeanne Jugan the living spirit of charity that animated her work and which inspired our fourth vow of hospitality. For Jeanne, as for John of God, the poor were the suffering members of the Body of Christ. Hospitality was a means of reaching out to them with the mercy and compassionate love of God.
The Brothers of St. John of God also taught her the art of begging for the poor. At the heart of this seemingly humiliating activity was a prophetic vision of human solidarity. St. John of God inspired the people of his day by saying, “Do good to yourselves, brothers, give to the poor!” Jeanne shared this conviction, sure that God had confided each person to the love of all. [begging tradition]
Blessed are the poor in spirit!
Jeanne’s confidence in God’s Providence was absolute. “Give us the house,” she often said. “If God fills it, God will not abandon it.” Hers was the absolute trust of the poor in spirit, of those who know that all good gifts come from above. “It is so good to be poor,” she rejoiced, “to have nothing, to await all from God.”
Jeanne’s devotion to St. Joseph was an extension of her confidence in God. In Joseph she found a father in the likeness of our heavenly Father, whose Providence watches over the little ones. She turned to him to obtain bread for the poor and chose him as Protector of our Congregation.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs!” Blessed are you, Jeanne, for believing that God’s Providence watches over the little ones!
Father Eloi Leclerc, a elderly Franciscan priest and writer, has beautifully captured the essence of Jeanne’s charism as foundress in his book, The Desert and The Rose. He wrote:
There was another point on which Jeanne insisted, connected to the first, and complementary. It is not easy to define. In her, it was a flame, first and foremost. Her eyes lit up when she spoke of it. One could feel the fire of passion rising up in her. One day she pronounced these burning words, magnificent in their simplicity: “What happiness for us, to be a Little Sister of the Poor! Making the poor happy is everything …” The whole mission and happiness of the Little Sisters is contained here: making the poor happy, giving happiness to the poor. To read more click here>>