October 28 - Pauline, beyond death

28 October 2021

The Eucharist, the Living Rosary and the Society of the Propagation of the Faith marked Pauline’s life indelibly. So did the cross, especially during her last difficult years, which she lived by faith and abandonment to Divine Providence. As the daughter of rich silk merchant, she humbled herself registering with the Lyon charity office and obtaining a “certificate of indigence”. Through all of this, she manifested an unshakable trust in Jesus and Mary. This trust would help her to fight to keep her property at Lorette to the very end of her life. In fact, the house has been restored and is now open to visitors.

Pauline was encouraged by the Archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal de Bonald, to construct a “shortcut” allowing the people of Lyon and pilgrims to reach Fourvière, by crossing her property with a right of way. She was thus able to resist the demands of her creditors to sell Lorett, while at the same time organized the restitution of debts owed to the small investors. She was also encouraged by her faithful friend Maria Dubouis, who welcomed her in October 1856, as well as by the Ladies of the Sacred Heart at Trinité-des-Monts, by Cardinal Villecourt and even from Pope Pius IX, who granted her several audiences. They also had the privilege, on All Saints' Day, of attending the Pope's Mass in the Sistine Chapel. The Pope showed a last paternal concern by giving Pauline 300 francs to cover the cost of her return. She left Rome invigorated.

Pauline's life ended in poverty and suffering, which she was able to endure and overcome because of her profound faith and love. This faith made her initiatives fruitful and filled with hope, yet marked by the Cross. Pauline breathed her last on January 9th, 1862, giving herself totally to God, to the Church, to the support of the missions, of the Living Rosary and the promotion of workers. Her trust in God and in the Blessed Mother was unwavering. In March 1889, immediately after the death of Marie Dubouis, at 30 rue Tramassac, Pauline's embalmed heart, which had been there (since April 1866), was solemnly carried to the archbishop's palace and then to the church of Saint-Polycarpe, which Pauline had attended during her youth. In 1910, the informative "process" for Pauline's beatification began. On Sunday, December 14, 1919, the first centenary of the Propagation of the Faith was solemnly celebrated in St. Polycarp Church. It was in the autumn of 1819 that Pauline had the idea of the plan of the penny a week and the tens. On May 3rd, 1922, Pope Pius XI declared the Society Pontifical and the General Secretariat moved to Rome. On June 18, 1930, he officially introduced Pauline’s cause for canonization and on February 25th, 1963, Pope St. John XXIII proclaimed her “venerable”. On May 26, 2020, Pope Francis recognized a miracle attributed to her intercession, paving the way for her beatification in Lyon on May 22, 2020, the 200th anniversary of the creation of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith.

Pauline's life was entirely oriented towards the support of the universal mission of the Church and rooted in the Eucharist, detached from self-concern and offering herself for the salvation of others. Her life was consistent with her faith in the Eucharist, which celebrates the Pascal Mystery, the Mystery of God’s gift of love manifested in the death and resurrection of Christ. He offered himself for the salvation of the many, that is, for the salvation of all humanity (Mt 26:28). At the end of the Eucharist, the faithful are sent on mission for the salvation of the world (Mt 28:19-20; Lk 24:33-35). They are sent to go and live what they have celebrated with their contemporaries. The Eucharist is the thanksgiving of the creature to his Creator and Saviour. What a joy to be able to give thanks to the Father for the gift of the Son, the gift of the Spirit and the missionary dynamic.

In reflecting on the life of Pauline Marie Jaricot, it is important to consider the different significances of the Eucharist - thanksgiving, gift, life offered, meal, giving and receiving, communion, the Paschal Mystery, the Mission of the Church and of each baptized person, the sacraments of salvation, etc. The Eucharist has its foundation in the Last Supper of Jesus (Lk 22:19f and 1 Cor 11:23f; Mk 14:22f) and refers to Love, the divine love manifested in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. He gives his "body" to eat and his "blood" to drink in the form of bread and wine. According to Semitic usage, the "body" refers to the tangible bodily reality of Jesus' person. Jesus is called the Servant of God par excellence (Is 53:4-12). He sheds his blood to establish a New Covenant with God (Is 42:6; 49:8). He, the Servant of God par excellence, freely accepts, out of obedience, a violent death and thus establishes a new covenant. The food offered is the body given by Jesus at the Last Supper; it is the crucified and risen body of Jesus. By consuming this sacred food, the death of Jesus with its saving efficacy is proclaimed and made effective. All those who receive it are gathered together to form the community of the one pneumatic Body of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 10:16ff), a missionary community, which, like its Master, is totally oriented towards the salvation of all humanity. Following the words of the institution, an command is given: "Do this in memory of me". Where the disciples legitimately do "this" (the Last Supper), the whole reality of Christ is always effectively present.

The celebration of the Lord's Supper, also known as the Mass, and the Eucharist, makes present the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, since it is the body and blood of the suffering and dying Lord that are made present as offered and poured out "for the many". This presence of Christ's unique sacrifice made present in the form of the Church's sacrificial liturgical action. It is Christ himself, dead and Risen, who continues to give himself to us. It is a real meal, since the body and blood of Christ are really present as food, and at the same time a real sacrifice, since the unique sacrifice of Jesus remains active in a lasting way in history.

Christ's sacrifice as a ransom for all evokes the figure of the Servant of God (Is 53:11-12; Mt 20:28). By giving himself as a ransom for all, Jesus bears witness to God's universal plan of salvation. He thus reveals himself as the faithful witness of the Father (Rev 1:5; 3:14). This Sacrifice is made effectively present and active through the liturgical action that represents the historical greatness that is the Church in the Eucharistic celebration. The baptized are members of this Body, united sons and daughter of the Father in the only-begotten Son, and invited to live in the same and unique Spirit, the Spirit of love who links the Father and the Son, who gives life to the Church and opens it to all humanity. The Church is, in Christ, the sacrament, that is to say, both the sign and the means of intimate union with God and of the unity of the entire human race (Lumen Gentium, no. 1).

Let us note that the Incarnation, Resurrection and Elevation of the Lord are also made present by the Eucharistic celebration (Jn 6:57f; Heb 10:5-10). By performing and receiving the Eucharist, the Church and each of the faithful are really performing a "Eucharist", that is, a specifically ecclesial and highest form of thanksgiving, and are sent on mission to those who do not yet know Christ. They are called to live the mission ad gentes. Thanksgiving, like the whole work of salvation that Pauline Marie Jaricot wanted to make accessible through the meditations of the Living Rosary, concerns all of humanity,

The offer of divine grace, the very gift of God, Jesus Christ giving himself fully, is celebrated, welcomed and offered to all humanity. Just as the Father always loves the Son, who in the Spirit offers himself definitively to everyone in his flesh and blood. With Christ, every disciple is invited to offer his or her life for the salvation of the world. The Eucharist is the tangible and lasting reality of the grace and salvation offered to all, because God wants all human beings to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). The Eucharist makes the visible community of the faithful, the Church, a sign that not only signifies a possible grace and divine will of salvation, but is the tangible and lasting reality of this grace and salvation that concerns all humanity.

Today, as in the past, every Christian is invited to support evangelisation throughout the world, to engage in dialogue with his or her contemporaries, whatever their convictions, in order to help them to encounter Jesus Christ, to welcome him and to live by him. The aim of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith is to form a Catholic conscience in all the faithful, while combining full docility to the Spirit with a missionary commitment open to the whole world. It also aims to prepare specific animators and missionaries to work in the local Churches, so that they may participate more adequately in the universal mission. It is easy to understand why the Propagation of the Faith is attentive to the missionary formation of young people and to the missionary dimension of the family.

On April 14th, 1926, the Congregation for Divine Worship established the penultimate Sunday of October as World Mission Sunday, a most beautiful fruit of Pauline’s initiative (see John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 81).  All Catholics are mobilised to become aware of their missionary responsibilities, to open up to all the Churches in order to know how the universal mission of the Church is lived in the different continents, to know the joys, the difficulties and the sorrows linked to the proclamation of the Gospel in the world. Each "missionary disciple" is also invited to participate financially in the collection to support the Pontifical Mission Societies and the Church in her mission of evangelisation of the world.

The Catholic Church needs financial means to support missionary projects in the world, especially in the mission territories: to train pastoral agents, to finance the formation of future priests and religious, to train catechists, to provide structures to the new dioceses created by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, to build places of worship, chapels and churches. Although the collection on the penultimate Sunday of October is for the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, Catholics are invited to support all the activities of the Pontifical Mission Societies. This includes the work of the Propagation of the Faith, which is specifically oriented towards the proclamation of the Gospel, but also the Society of the Missionary Childhood, which is more oriented towards children. There is also the Society of St Peter the Apostle, which is directed towards the formation of future pastors, the seminarians, and finally the Pontifical Missionary Union, which is responsible for the missionary information and formation of pastoral agents, priests, religious men and women, but also lay people who have a pastoral responsibility.

Mission promotion is not limited to World Mission Sunday. In France, a missionary week precedes this day, with activities in dioceses, parishes, and various places to make the baptized aware of their missionary responsibility. In some countries, especially in Africa, the whole month of October is reserved for activities to help people live World Mission Sunday. In other countries, various meetings are organised throughout the year to prepare for World Mission Sunday. In France, meetings are held in different dioceses and provinces to reflect on the theme of World Mission Sunday and to look for ways of animating all Catholics. It is also an opportunity to be trained to better serve the diocesan service of universal mission and the services of solidarity, cooperation and migrants, often associated with the service of universal mission.