May 13th - St. Andrew Hubert Fournet



May 13th - St. Andrew Hubert Fournet
(Co-founder of the Daughters of the Cross)

IN studying the lives of those who have been raised to the altars of the
Church
we find many instances of men and women who from childhood have felt drawn
to
the mode of life they afterwards adopted; but occasionally we come across
individuals who began by experiencing a positive aversion from what
subsequently
proved to be their vocation. To this latter category belonged St Andrew
Hubert
Fournet.

He was born on December 6, 1752, at Maillé, near Poitiers, of well-to-do
parents. Possibly his good mother rather overdid her pious instructions and
her
laudation of the priestly office, for little Andrew was frankly bored by
religion: he wished neither to pray nor to learn: all he wanted to do was to
amuse himself. In a book belonging to him when a lad, and preserved as a
relic,
may be read the following words written in his childish handwriting: "This
book
belongs to Andrew Hubert Fournet, a good boy, though he is not going to be a
priest or a monk!"

At school his idleness and frivolity led him into many scrapes, and one day
he
ran away-only to be brought back in disgrace to receive a thrashing. Later
on he
went to Poitiers, ostensibly to study philosophy and law, but his main study
was
to get as much pleasure out of life as possible. Once he enlisted and was
bought
out. Then his mother tried to obtain some secretarial work for him: his
handwriting, how ever, was too bad.

Almost in despair his family sent him to an uncle, a parish priest in a
lonely,
poverty-stricken parish. This was the turning-point in his life.

The uncle was a holy man, who won his nephew's confidence, and succeeded so
well
in drawing out the good that underlay his frivolity that before long Andrew
appeared a changed character. He set himself to study theology, was ordained
priest, and became his uncle's curate. After serving a second and more
strenuous
cure he was nominated parish priest in his native town of Maillé in 1781.
His
liberality to the poor and his winning personality soon endeared him to the
whole parish.

For a time he continued to entertain friends at a well-appointed table, but
the
casual criticism of a beggar led him to give away all his silver and every
article of furniture that was not absolutely necessary. From that time
forward
he and his mother, his sister, and a curate led an almost conventual life in
the
presbytery. His simplicity soon extended itself from his manner of life to
his
speech. "Your Reverence used to preach so finely that no one understood
you",
his sacristan remarked one day. "Nowadays we can all follow every word you
say."

This peaceful, happy existence came to an end with the French Revolution. St
Andrew refused to take the oath which the new government required of the
clergy,
and was consequently outlawed. Only by stealth could he minister to his
flock-now in the woods, now in a barn, now in a humble cottage-and always at
the
risk of his life. Towards the end of 1792, at the bidding of his bishop, he
retired to Spain, but after an absence of five years he decided that he
could no
longer leave his flock unshepherded. Secretly he made his way back to his
parish, which he entered at dead of night. The news of his return spread
like
wildfire and his ministrations were sought on all hands. The danger,
however,
was greater than ever; the pursuivants were constantly on his track: and on
several occasions he only escaped by the skin of his teeth. Once, as he was
sitting by a cottage fire, the bailiffs entered in search of him. The good
woman
of the house promptly boxed his ears for an idle churl, and bade him give
his
place to the gentlemen while he went off to mind the cattle. The ruse
succeeded;
but in telling the story St Andrew was wont to add: "She had a heavy hand:
she
made me see stars!" Another day he eluded capture by feigning to be a
corpse.
The officials sent in search of him drew back at the sight of a shrouded
figure
on a bed surrounded by candles and kneeling women.

The accession to power of Napoleon Bonaparte brought relief to the faithful,
for
the First Consul soon realized that it was politic to make terms with the
Church. Fournet openly took control of his parish and presbytery, and set
himself to rekindle the embers of religion. He gave many missions, and was
untiring in the pulpit and confessional.

In all his efforts he was ably seconded by St Elizabeth Bichier des Ages,
who
under his guidance formed a congregation of women pledged to teach children
and
to look after the sick and poor. St Andrew directed the sisters and drew up
their rule; they became known as the Daughters of the Cross, but the
foundress
liked to call them Sisters of St Andrew.

When Abbé Fournet had reached the age of sixty-eight, fatigue and increasing
infirmities induced him to resign his parish work at Maillé and to retire to
La
Puye. Here he not only devoted himself to the new community but also gave
assistance in the adjoining parishes, and became spiritual adviser to many
souls, clergy as well as layfolk. In the process of beatification some
remarkable evidence was given of the miraculous multiplication of food, and
especially of grain, effected by the prayers of St Andrew when the nuns
among
whom he resided needed bread for themselves and their children. He died on
May
13, 1834, and was canonized on June 4, 1933.

A biographical summary in some detail is included in the bull of
canonization:
it may be found in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, vol. xxv (1933), pp. 417-428.
See
also L. Rigaud, Vie de A. H. Fournet (1885); an anonymous Italian life, Il
beato
Andrea Uberto Fournet (1885); and the bibliography of St Elizabeth Bichier,
on
August 26.


******
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. On May 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared
to
three children in Fatima, Portugal and urged them to pray the rosary for
world
peace. She told them that

the war (World War I) is going to end; but if people do not cease
offending
God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you
see
a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign
given
you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of
war,
famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

Our Lady is our mother. She wishes us to draw closer to her Son. Cry out to
her
and ask her to share your journey in this world that you may live forever
with
Christ in the next.

To read all of Mary's words to the children of Fatima, go to Theotokos.org,
one
of the best and most reliable sites on approved apparitions in the Church.


Saint Quote:
God had only One Son without sin, but never one without suffering.
-- Saint Augustine of Hippo


<><><><>
ABANDONMENT TO THE DIVINE WILL

Father, I abandon myself into Your hands; Do with me what
You will. Whatever You may do, I thank You: I am ready for
all, I accept all. Let only Your will be done in me, And in all
Your creatures- I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into Your
hands I commend my soul; I offer it to You with all the love of
my heart, For I love You, Lord, and so need to give myself to
surrender my self into Your hands without reserve, and with
boundless confidence, for You are my Father. Amen
(Brother Charles de Foucauld)




.



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