October 30 - Pauline: Promoter of human solidarity

30 October 2021

Pauline Jaricot was a woman following the road of human solidarity, a woman who continued to live in the “collaborative ferment of the Catholic apostolate”. (Sister Cecilia Giacovelli, Pauline Jaricot. Biography, op. cit., p. 320). In solidarity with the poor, she helped them not only to become aware of their dignity, but also to fight for their dignity to be recognised by the greatest number of their contemporaries. She helped them to better accept the Gospel in order to live it more fully. She was a pioneer of worker’s rights and missionary solidarity, devoted to Mary and Jesus her Lord. He patiently endured the great hostility of sinners, without ever becoming discouraged or giving up calling them to conversion. (Sister Cecilia Giacovelli, Pauline Jaricot, op. cit., p. 320)

Pauline's personality sheds light on the world of secular Christians, for she is involved in both historical, human, and supernatural realities. She is so smothered in a “hornet’s nest” of legal transactions caused by deception and fraud that the reader cannot help but feel compassion for her. She resembles the innocent condemned, like her Lord who asked the daughters of Jerusalem not to weep for him, but for themselves and their children (Lk 23:28). The way Pauline tried to solve the problems of justice she faced can challenge every human being in his or her quest for truth and justice for themselves but also for the poor and the little ones who often lack the means to defend themselves. It can also challenge the way in which the baptised is involved in solidarity and fraternity to bring about a reign of justice and peace in the world. As the Letter to the Hebrews recommends, let us accept the challenge to be authentic witness of Christ, rejecting sin and willing to endure the trial that is set before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, ignoring its shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2).

Should we make Pauline "the patron saint of ruined shopkeepers" or the "patron saint of the Young Catholic Worker” or the "patron saint of a Christian Renaissance Movement"? (Sister Cecilia Giacovelli, Pauline Jaricot: Biography, op. cit., p. 321). She appears as a fighter, a woman totally devoted to the cause of the Church's mission, full of apostolic ardour, like St Catherine of Siena and the apostle of the Gentiles. Is Pauline not, in the end, a martyr who asks nothing of God for herself, except that the immolated Lamb welcomes her at the foot of his throne, like the poor woman who clutches in her hands the yellowed certificate of indigence? (Sister Cecilia Giacovelli, Pauline Jaricot: Biography, op. cit., p. 321).

Pauline Jaricot was a missionary disciple, to use the words of the Holy Father, revealing a profile of an apostle, a witness to the Risen One, in the way that women followed Jesus and bore witness to him after his resurrection. She lived by the Eucharist, the source and summit of Christian life, anticipating the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.  Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, they [the faithful] offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It. Thus both by reason of the offering and through Holy Communion all take part in this liturgical service, not indeed, all in the same way but each in that way which is proper to himself. Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God, which is suitably signified and wondrously brought about by this most august sacrament. (Lumen gentium, no. 11). The Most Blessed Eucharist contains the entire spiritual boon of the Church that is, Christ himself, our Pasch and Living Bread, by the action of the Holy Spirit through his very flesh vital and vitalizing, giving life to men who are thus invited and encouraged to offer themselves, their labors, and all created things, together with him. In this light, the Eucharist shows itself as the source and the apex of the whole work of evangelization. (Vatican II, Presbyterorum ordinis, n°5).

Today, Pauline Jaricot and the works she inspired provide a clear but discreet reassuring presence for many missionaries scattered throughout the world. Those who know her know that she is a key figure in the history of evangelisation and the mission of the Church. Both St. Pauline and the Pontifical Mission Societies are signposts for Christian solicitude, for exchanges between Churches, for a common commitment to mission beyond the borders of individual countries. This is Christian charity, one of the strong signs of ecclesial communion; it is also the offering of means to the universal Church for mission, an expression of the gift of oneself to participate in the evangelising mission of the Church following her Lord in the Holy Spirit. For God wants all human beings to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). Pauline, who became a pilgrim through solidarity, needs to accompany pilgrims who seek a strong spiritual life by going to meet Mary and her Son.

To know Pauline better is to understand more fully the importance of seeking and working for reconciliation and peace, thus building with others a civilisation of infinite love. It is also an opportunity to move towards a culture based on fraternal sharing, organised support for all missionaries without distinction, mobilising all Christians around the Lord Jesus, the "Man in Solidarity" with the Father and in the Spirit, in the realisation of the plan of Salvation which concerns all humanity. The renewed memory of Pauline, the Mary’s poor woman, allows Christians to empathise with those in need and to support the Church's mission, always persevering in the logic of conversion and love.