29 October -Pauline, Mary-s poor one

29 October 2021

In 1845 and 1850, Bishop Emmanuel Verrolles (1805-1878), Vicar Apostolic of Manchuria, was encouraged by Pope Gregory XVI to travel around Europe to arouse the zeal of Catholics for the Work of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. To this end, he visited most of the dioceses of France. When Pauline met him in Paris, they had long talks. Before leaving for the Orient, he wrote to Pauline on August 17, 1850, expressing not only his interest in the work of Our Lady of the Angels but also the importance of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, which enabled missionaries to live and work in Asia. He expressed his feelings of gratitude and the need to help Pauline in the days of her distress caused in large part by her boundless charity. He even called her the Mother of our missions, all of the missions throughout the world, especially in Asia. In spite of his very modest donation of 6 francs, calling her Mother of our missions gave Pauline great comfort in having her role as foundress recognized by those who give their lives in the missions.

At the end of her life, Pauline was very poor and on the verge of destitution, a victim of swindlers, of the rich and the powerful. She would see this as a way to greater humility and piety. In fact, in late Judaism, the poor are the true Israel. In Lk 6:24, Jesus cries woe to the rich and powerful of this world, and in Mt 5:3 he calls the poor in spirit blessed, that is, the truly poor, those who suffer but bear their poverty and use it to open themselves to God. Jesus asks his friends, those who belong to him, to be detached from material possessions (Mt 8:20), so as to grow in internal freedom and help solidify the unity of the community.  However, the Faith calls us to make every effort to eliminate poverty on the social level; even if there will always be poor people in the world (Mt 26:11). Poverty freely assumed must be a form of Christian asceticism and, like all obedience to the evangelical counsels, a sign of the Church's Faith in the End Times already inaugurated, which refers to the very foundation of Christian hope. It is nevertheless difficult to reconcile the renunciation of wealth by individuals with the possession of goods by religious communities. For Pauline, it is necessary to see how much our pride puts obstacles in the way of God's graces.

Based on Luke's Gospel, for example, we see how the Sermon on the Mount opens with the promised blessedness of the poor and a warning for the rich (Lk 6:20,24f). With the breaking of family ties and the acceptance of suffering, the renunciation of possessions becomes part of the norm of following Jesus. This call to follow goes hand in hand with a detachment from material possessions (Lk 5:11,28; 9:3; 10:4; 18:28). Therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:33). The need for personal conversion and adopting a new ethic is clear in Luke’s gospel as is his concern regarding the danger of a “rich” Christianity and his challenge to materially well-off believers.  Luke also places a great emphasis on prayer, which is another trait that distinguishes Luke's ethics.

At each important stage of his ministry, Luke describes Jesus in prayer: at his baptism, before choosing the apostles, before Peter's profession of faith, at the Transfiguration, in the agony in the garden and on the cross. These key moments are themes for meditation during the prayer of the Living Rosary. These themes nourished the prayer and meditation of Pauline and continue to nourish all those who have adopted the Living Rosary, which helps one to better meditate on the mysteries of our salvation, the commitment of Mary and her Son for the salvation of all humanity. Luke emphasises trust in the goodness of the Father and the need to pray without ceasing (Lk 11:1-13; 18:1-14). Unceasing prayer is a necessity for living the time of the Church, which, according to the Lucan conception of history, is called to last for a long time.

Pauline explains, "We would have to be very small, very humble; yes, then our prayers offered to the divine Majesty would call forth his mercy and stop his wrath. To what then can we attribute the lack of success of our prayers? To our pride, yes, our pride is an obstacle to the effects of prayer. The haughty Pharisee obtains nothing, while the humble publican returns justified. Sisters, let us ask for humility, that is to say, let us ask for a sense of the truth, of our nothingness, our sins and our unworthiness. God is truth, when we are in truth he inclines his heart towards us and the voice of the poor and weak, who cry out to his mercy for oneself and for one’s brothers and sisters. This cry does not return without effect. I would ask Our Lord to inspire you to pray that we enter into these dispositions; then we can hope that our Lord Jesus Christ will accept your wishes. In Him, I am fully yours. (Pauline Jaricot, Le Rosaire vivant, Paris, Lethielleux, 2011, pp. 203-204)

For Pope Leo XIII, it was clear that, none other than Pauline conceived, planned, and organised the beautiful work and society called Propagation of the Faith. This included the great collection of funds made up of the weekly oblations of the faithful, praised by the bishops and by the Holy See itself, which, having developed marvellously provides abundant resources for the Catholic missions. It is to her that we also owe the wonderful initiative of the Living Rosary: distributing the five decades of the Rosary among 15 people. Thus, she spread the invocation to the Mother of God in an astonishing way and made it incessant. In this way, the Pontifical Letters soon recommended and enriched with many indulgences this new form of prayer, which quickly spread throughout the world. Among this pious virgin’s initiatives, one must also recall how she dedicated the vast resources of her patrimony for the cause of more just and humane conditions for workers, an initiative that today many Catholic associations are working for zealously and not without success.  Although this last initiative was marked by an infamous betrayal of unscrupulous men that deprived her of all her wealth. (Appendix III, A Brief from His Holiness Leo XXIII, made in Rome, in the church of St. Peter, on June 3, 1881, in Sister Cecilia Giacovelli, Pauline Jaricot. Biography, op. cit. pp. 331-332).

Pauline Jaricot was able to combine piety and social commitment in a harmonious way: total abandonment to God, prayers to Mary and to Jesus, without forgetting the poor, the workers and the little ones. She wanted to serve God, the Church, and the poor by loving God with all her heart, with all her soul, with all her strength and with all her mind (cf. Lk 10:27). Pauline clearly shows that love is the way to eternal life and, following Jesus, Pauline knew how to link in her life the love of God and that of her neighbour, the latter understood as anyone who needed help. At the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus says, Go and do likewise (Lk 10:37). (Lk 10:37) This is what Pauline understood and what she tried to live, after her conversion and during the rest of her life.