Out of sight, out of mind

Out of sight, out of mind

  Christ is gone away; he is not seen; we never saw him, we only read and hear of him. It is an old saying, "Out of sight, out of mind." Be sure, so it will be, so it must be with us, as regards our blessed Savior, unless we make continual efforts all through the day to think of him, his love, his precepts, his gifts, and his promises. We must recall to mind what we read in the gospels and in holy books about him; we must bring before us what we have heard in church; we must pray God to enable us to do so, to bless the doing so, and to make us do so in a simple-minded, sincere, and reverential spirit. In a word, we must meditate, for all this is meditation; and this even the most unlearned person can do, and will do, if he has a will to do it.
--John Henry Newman

May 16th - St. Andrew Hubert Fournet
(Co-founder of the Daughters of the Cross. Feastday formally May 13th the day of his death)

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 curé 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.

Saint Quote:
Only believe, and you have already found what you seek. In truth, what does Faith not find? It reached the unapproachable, it discovers the unknown, it comprehends the unsearchable, it has the secret of arriving at the ends of things, and it has but to dilate its bosom to hold even eternity in its embrace.
-- St. Bernard

Bible Quote:
For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners: so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just. (Rom 5:19 ) DRB


Jesus, Who because of Your burning love for us willed to be
crucified and to shed Your Most Precious Blood for the
redemption and salvation of our souls, look down upon us
and grant the petition we ask for ...( mention here)

We trust completely in Your Mercy. Cleanse us from sin by
Your Grace, sanctify our work, give us and all those who are
dear to us our daily bread, lighten the burden of our
sufferings, bless our families, and grant to the nations, so
sorely afflicted, Your Peace, which is the only true peace, so
that by obeying Your Commandments we may come at last to
the glory of Heaven. Amen

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