Friday, April 8, 2016

Quote to SHARE by #MotherTeresa "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."

"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier." Mother Teresa 

#PopeFrancis New Apostolic Exhortation "The Joy of Love" - Amoris Laetitia - OFFICIAL summary - Link

Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia: On Love in the Family was released on Friday. - AFP
Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia: On Love in the Family was released on Friday. - AFP
08/04/2016 12:00
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Friday published Pope Francis’ eagerly-awaited Apostolic Exhoratation on the family, drawing together almost three years of consultations with Catholics in countries around the world.
The lengthy document, entitled ‘Amoris Laetitia’, or The Joy of Love, affirms the Church’s teaching that stable families are the building blocks of a healthy society and a place where children learn to love, respect and interact with others.
At the same time the text warns against idealizing the many challenges facing family life, urging Catholics to care for, rather than condemning, all those whose lives do not reflect the teaching of the Church.
In particular the document focuses on the need for “personal and pastoral discernment’” for individuals, recognizing that “neither the Synod, nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases”.
The text of the official summary of the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ or The Joy of Love can be found below. The full, unabridged text, can be found here on the Vatican website.
Summary of
Amoris Laetitia: On Love in the Family

It is not by chance that Amoris Laetitia (AL)“The Joy of Love”, the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “on Love in the Family”,was signed on 19 March, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. It brings together the results of the two Synods on the family convoked by Pope Francis in 2014 and 2015. It often cites theirFinal Reports; documents and teachings of his Predecessors; and his own numerous catecheses on the family. In addition, as in previous magisterial documents, the Pope also makes use of the contributions of various Episcopal Conferences around the world (Kenya, Australia, Argentina...) and cites significant figures such as Martin Luther King and Erich Fromm.The Pope even quotes the film Babette’s Feast to illustrate the concept of gratuity.
Introduction(1-7)
The Apostolic Exhortation is striking for its breadth and detail. Its 325 paragraphs aredistributed over nine chapters. The seven introductory paragraphs plainly set out the complexity of a topic in urgent need of thorough study. The interventions of the Synod Fathers make up [form] a “multifaceted gem” (AL 4), a precious polyhedron, whose value must be preserved. But the Pope cautions that “not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium”. Indeed, for some questions, “each country or region … can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. For ‘cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle… needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied’” (AL 3).This principle of inculturation applies to how problems are formulated and addressed and, apart from the dogmatic issues that have been well defined by the Church’s magisterium, none of this approach can be “globalized”.In his address at the end of the 2015 Synod, the Pope said very clearly: “What seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous – almost! – for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion.”
The Pope clearly states that we need above all to avoid a sterile juxtaposition between demands for change and the general application of abstract norms. He writes: “The debates carried on in the media, in certain publications and even among the Church’s ministers, range from an immoderate desire for total change without sufficient reflection or grounding, to an attitude that would solve everything by applying general rules or deriving undue conclusions from particular theological considerations” (AL 2).
Chapter One: “In the light of the Word”(8-30)
Following this introduction, the Pope begins his reflections with the Holy Scriptures in the first chapter, which unfolds as a meditation on Psalm 128 (which appears in the Jewish wedding liturgy as well as that of Christian marriages). The Bible “is full of families, births, love stories and family crises” (AL 8).This impels us to meditate on how the family is not an abstract ideal but rather like a practical “trade” (AL 16), which is carried out with tenderness (AL 28), but which has also been confronted with sin from the beginning, when the relationship of love turned into domination (cf. AL 19). Hence, the Word of God “is not a series of abstract ideas but rather a source of comfort and companionship for every family that experiences difficulties or suffering. For it shows them the goal of their journey...” (AL 22).
Chapter two: “The experiences and challenges of families” (31-57)
Building on the biblical base, in the second chapter the Pope considers the current situation of families. While keeping “firmly grounded in [the] reality” of family experiences (AL 6), he also draws heavily on the final Reports of the two Synods. Families face many challenges, from migration to the ideological denial of differences between the sexes (“ideology of gender” AL 56); from the culture of the provisional to the antibirth mentality and the impact of biotechnology in the field of procreation; from the lack of housing and work to pornography and abuse of minors; from inattention to persons with disabilities, to lack of respect for the elderly; from the legal dismantling of the family, to violence against women. The Pope insists on concreteness, which is a key concept in the Exhortation. And it is concreteness, realism and daily life that make up the substantial difference between acceptable “theories” of interpretation of reality and arbitrary “ideologies”.
Citing Familiaris consortio, Francis states that “we do well to focus on concrete realities, since ‘the call and the demands of the Spirit resound in the events of history’, and through these ‘the Church can also be guided to a more profound understanding of the inexhaustible mystery of marriage and the family’” (AL 31). Conversely, if we fail to listen to reality, we cannot understand the needs of the present or the movements of the Spirit. The Pope notes that rampant individualism makes it difficult today for a person to give oneself generously to another (cf. AL 33). Here is an interesting picture of the situation: “The fear of loneliness and the desire for stability and fidelity exist side by side with a growing fear of entrapment in a relationship that could hamper the achievement of one’s personal goals” (AL 34).
The humility of realism helps us to avoid presenting “a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families” (AL 36). Idealism does not allow marriage to be understood for what it is, that is, a “dynamic path to personal development and fulfilment”. It is unrealistic to think that families can sustain themselves “simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace” (AL 37). Calling for a certain “self-criticism” of approaches that are inadequate for the experience of marriage and the family, the Pope stresses the need to make room for the formation of the conscience of the faithful: “We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them” (AL37). Jesus proposed a demanding ideal but “never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals like the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery” (AL 38).
Chapter three: “Looking to Jesus: The vocation of the family”(58-88)
The third chapter is dedicated to some essential elements of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. This chapter is important because its 30 paragraphs concisely depict the vocation of the family according to the Gospel and as affirmed by the Church over time. Above all,it stresses the themes of indissolubility, the sacramental nature of marriage, the transmission of life and the education of children. Gaudium et Spes of Vatican II, Humanae Vitae of Paul VI, and Familiaris Consortio of John Paul II are widely quoted.
The chapter provides a broad view and touches on “imperfect situations” as well. We can read, in fact: “‘Discernment of the presence of ‘seeds of the Word’ in other cultures (cf. Ad Gentes 11) can also apply to the reality of marriage and the family. In addition to true natural marriage, positive elements exist in the forms of marriage found in other religious traditions’,even if, at times, obscurely” (AL 77).The reflection also includes the “wounded families” about whom the Pope – quoting the Final Report of the 2015 Synod extensively –says that “it is always necessary to recall this general principle: ‘Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations’ (Familiaris Consortio, 84).The degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases and factors may exist which limit the ability to make a decision.Therefore, while clearly stating the Church’s teaching, pastors are to avoid judgements that do not take into account the complexity of various situations, and they are to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition” (AL 79).
Chapter four: “Love in marriage”(89-164)
The fourth chapter treats love in marriage, which it illuminates with Saint Paul’s Hymn to Love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This opening section is truly a painstaking, focused, inspired and poetic exegesis of the Pauline text. It is a collection of brief passages carefully and tenderly describing human love in absolutely concrete terms. The quality of psychological introspection that marks this exegesis is striking. The psychological insights enter into the emotional world of the spouses – positive and negative – and the erotic dimension of love. This is an extremely rich and valuable contribution to Christian married life, unprecedented in previous papal documents.
This section digresses briefly from the more extensive, perceptive treatment of the day-to-day experience of married love which the Pope refuses to judge against ideal standards: “There is no need to lay upon two limited persons the tremendous burden of having to reproduce perfectly the union existing between Christ and his Church, for marriage as a sign entails ‘a dynamic process…, one which advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God’” (AL 122). On the other hand, the Pope forcefully stresses the fact that conjugal love by its very nature defines the partners in a richly encompassing and lasting union (AL 123), precisely within that “mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures” (Al 126) which indeed make up a marriage.
The chapter concludes with a very important reflection on the “transformation of love” because “Longer life spans now mean that close and exclusive relationships must last for four, five or even six decades; consequently, the initial decision has to be frequently renewed” (AL 163). As physical appearance alters, the loving attraction does not lessen but changes as sexual desire can be transformed over time into the desire for togetherness and mutuality: “There is no guarantee that we will feel the same way all through life.Yet if a couple can come up with a shared and lasting life project, they can love one another and live as one until death do them part, enjoying an enriching intimacy” (AL 163).
Chapter five: “Love made fruitful”(165-198)
The fifth chapter is entirely focused on love’s fruitfulness and procreation. It speaks in a profoundly spiritual and psychological manner about welcoming new life, about the waiting period of pregnancy, about the love of a mother and a father. It also speaks of the expanded fruitfulness of adoption, of welcoming the contribution of families to promote a “culture of encounter”, and of family life in a broad sense which includes aunts and uncles, cousins, relatives of relatives, friends. Amoris laetitiadoes not focus on the so-called “nuclear” family” because it is very aware of the family as a wider network of many relationships. The spirituality of the sacrament of marriage has a deeply social character (cf. AL 187). And within this social dimension the Pope particularly emphasizes the specific role of the relationship between youth and the elderly, as well as the relationship between brothers and sisters as a training ground for relating with others.
Chapter six: “Some pastoral perspectives”(199-258)
In the sixth chapter the Pope treats various pastoral perspectives that are aimed at forming solid and fruitful families according to God’s plan. The chapter use the Final Reports of the two Synods and the catecheses of Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II extensively. It reiterates that families should not only be evangelized, they should also evangelize. The Pope regrets “that ordained ministers often lack the training needed to deal with the complex problems currently facing families” (AL 202). On the one hand, the psycho-affective formation of seminarians needs to be improved, and families need to be more involved in formation for ministry (cf. AL 203); and on the other hand, “the experience of the broad oriental tradition of a married clergy could also be drawn upon” (AL 202).
The Pope then deals with the preparation of the engaged for marriage;with the accompanimentof couples in the first years of married life, including the issue of responsible parenthood; and also with certain complex situations and crises, knowing that “each crisis has a lesson to teach us; we need to learn how to listen for it with the ear of the heart” (AL 232). Some causes of crisis are analysed, among them a delay in maturing affectively (cf. AL 239).
Mention is furthermore made of accompanying abandoned, separated or divorced persons. The Exhortation stresses the importance of the recent reform of the procedures for marriage annulment. It highlights the suffering of children in situations of conflictand concludes: “Divorce is an evil and the increasing number of divorces is very troubling. Hence, our most important pastoral task with regard to families is to strengthen their love, helping to heal wounds and working to prevent the spread of this drama of our times” (AL 246).It then touches on the situations of a marriage between a Catholic and a Christian of another denomination (mixed marriages), and between a Catholic and someone of another religion (disparity of cult). Regarding families with members with homosexual tendencies, it reaffirms the necessity to respect them and to refrain from any unjust discrimination and every form of aggression or violence. The last, pastorally poignant part of the chapter, “When death makes us feel its sting”, is on the theme of the loss of dear ones and of widowhood.
Chapter seven: “Towards a better education of children”(259-290)
The seventh chapter is dedicated to the education of children: their ethical formation, the learning of discipline which can include punishment, patient realism, sex education, passing on the faith and, more generally, family life as an educational context. The practical wisdom present in each paragraph is remarkable, above all the attention given to those gradual, small steps “that can be understood, accepted and appreciated” (AL 271).
There is a particularly interesting and pedagogically fundamental paragraph in which Francis clearly states that “obsession, however, is not education. We cannot control every situation that a child may experience…If parents are obsessed with always knowing where their children are and controlling all their movements, they will seek only to dominate space. But this is no way to educate, strengthen and prepare their children to face challenges. What is most important is the ability lovingly to help them grow in freedom, maturity, overall discipline and real autonomy” (AL 260).
The notable section on education in sexuality is very expressively entitled: “Yes to sex education”. The need is there, and we have to ask “if our educational institutions have taken up this challenge … in an age when sexuality tends to be trivialized and impoverished”. Sound education needs to be carried out “within the broader framework of an education for love, for mutual self-giving” (AL 280). The text warns that the expression ‘safe sex’ conveys “a negative attitude towards the natural procreative finality of sexuality, as if an eventual child were an enemy to be protected against. This way of thinking promotes narcissism and aggressivity in place of acceptance” (AL 283).                                                                                                                             
Chapter eight: “Guiding, discerning and integrating weakness”(291-312)
The eighth chapter is an invitation to mercy and pastoral discernment in situations that do not fully match what the Lord proposes. The Pope uses three very important verbs: guiding, discerning and integrating, which are fundamental in addressing fragile, complex or irregular situations. The chapter has sections on the need for gradualness in pastoral care; the importance of discernment; norms and mitigating circumstances in pastoral discernment; and finally what the Pope calls the “logic of pastoral mercy”.
Chapter eight is very sensitive. In reading it one must remember that “the Church’s task is often like that of a field hospital” (AL 291).Here the Holy Father grapples with the findings of the Synods on controversial issues.He reaffirms what Christian marriage is and adds that “some forms of union radically contradict this ideal, while others realize it in at least a partial and analogous way”. The Church therefore “does not disregard the constructive elements in those situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage” (AL 292).
As far as discernment with regard to “irregular” situations is concerned, the Pope states: “There is a need ‘to avoid judgements which do not take into account the complexity of various situations’ and ‘to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience distress because of their condition’” (AL 296). And he continues: “It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community, and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy”(AL 297). And further: “The divorced who have entered a new union, for example, can find themselves in a variety of situations, which should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment” (AL 298).
In this line, gathering the observations of many Synod Fathers, the Pope states that “the baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal”. “Their participation can be expressed in different ecclesial services… Such persons need to feel not as excommunicated members of the Church, but instead as living members, able to live and grow in the Church… This integration is also needed in the care and Christian upbringing of their children” (AL 299).
In a more general vein, the Pope makes an extremely important statement for understanding the orientation and meaning of the Exhortation: “If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations, … it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable toall cases.What is needed is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases, one which would recognize that, since ‘the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases’, the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same” (AL 300). The Pope develops in depth the needs and characteristics of the journey of accompaniment and discernment necessary for profound dialogue between the faithful and their pastors.
For this purpose the Holy Father recalls the Church’s reflection on “mitigating factors and situations” regarding the attribution of responsibility and accountability for actions; and relying on St. Thomas Aquinas, he focuses on the relationship between rules and discernment by stating: “It is true that general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations. At the same time, it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule” (AL 304).
The last section of the chapter treats “The logic of pastoral mercy”.To avoid misunderstandings, Pope Francis strongly reiterates: “To show understanding in the face of exceptional situations never implies dimming the light of the fuller ideal, or proposing less than what Jesus offers to the human being.Today, more important than the pastoral care of failures is the pastoral effort to strengthen marriages and thus to prevent their breakdown” (AL 307).
The overall sense of the chapter and of the spirit that Pope Francis wishes to impart to the pastoral work of the Church is well summed up in the closing words: “I encourage the faithful who find themselves in complicated situations to speak confidently with their pastors or with other lay people whose lives are committed to the Lord. They may not always encounter in them a confirmation of their own ideas or desires, but they will surely receive some light to help them better understand their situation and discover a path to personal growth.I also encourage the Church’s pastors to listen to them with sensitivity and serenity, with a sincere desire to understand their plight and their point of view, in order to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church.” (AL 312).
On the “logic of pastoral mercy”, Pope Francis emphasizes: “At times we find it hard to make room for God’s unconditional love in our pastoral activity. We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance.That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel” (AL 311).
Chapter nine: “The spirituality of marriage and the family”(313-325)
The ninth chapter is devoted to marital and family spirituality, which “is made up of thousands of small but real gestures” (AL 315).The Pope clearly states that “those who have deep spiritual aspirations should not feel that the family detracts from their growth in the life of the Spirit, but rather see it as a path which the Lord is using to lead them to the heights of mystical union” (AL 316).Everything, “moments of joy, relaxation, celebration, and even sexuality can be experienced as a sharing in the full life of the resurrection” (AL 317). He then speaks of prayer in the light of Easter, of the spirituality of exclusive and free love in the challenge and the yearning to grow old together, reflecting God’s fidelity (cf. AL 319). And finally the spirituality of care, consolation and incentive: the Pope teaches that “all family life is a ‘shepherding’ in mercy. Each of us, by our love and care, leaves a mark on the life of others” (AL 322). It is a profound “spiritual experience to contemplate our loved ones with the eyes of God and to see Christ in them” (AL 323).
In the final paragraph the Pope affirms: “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love …All of us are called to keep striving towards something greater than ourselves and our families, and every family must feel this constant impulse. Let us make this journey as families, let us keep walking together. (…) May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us” (AL 325).
The Apostolic Exhortation concludes with a Prayer to the Holy Family.
* * *
As can readily be understood from a quick review of its contents, the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia seeks emphatically to affirm not the “ideal family” but the very rich and complex reality of family life. Its pages provide an openhearted look, profoundly positive, which is nourished not with abstractions or ideal projections, but with pastoral attention to reality. The text is a close reading of family life, with spiritual insights and practical wisdom useful for every human couple or persons who want to build a family. Above all, it is patently the result of attention to what people have lived over many years. The Exhortation Amoris laetitia: On Love in the Family indeed speaks the language of experience and of hope.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Fri. April 8, 2016


Friday of the Second Week of Easter
Lectionary: 271


Reading 1ACTS 5:34-42

A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel,
a teacher of the law, respected by all the people,
stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time,
and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel,
be careful what you are about to do to these men.
Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important,
and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed,
and all those who were loyal to him
were disbanded and came to nothing.
After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census.
He also drew people after him,
but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered.
So now I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
They were persuaded by him.
After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged,
ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus,
and dismissed them.
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing that they had been found worthy
to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.

Responsorial PsalmPS 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. (see 4abc) One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
One thing I ask of the LORD
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R. One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaMT 4:4B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Saint April 8 : St. Julia Billiart : Patron of Poverty, Sick people : #Foundress




Information:
Feast Day:April 8
Born:12 July 1751 at Cuvilly,France
Died:8 April 1816 at Namur, Belgium
Canonized:22 June 1969 by Pope Paul VI
Patron of:against poverty, bodily ills, impoverishment, poverty, sick people, sickness

Foundress, and first superior-general of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur, born 12 July, 1751, at Cuvilly, a village of Picardy, in the Diocese of Beauvais and the Department of Oise, France; died 8 April, 1816, at the motherhouse of her institute, Namur, Belgium. She was the sixth of seven children of Jean-François Billiart and his wife, Marie-Louise-Antoinette Debraine. The childhood of Julie was remarkable; at the age of seven, she knew the catechism by heart, and used to gather her little companions around her to hear them recite it and to explain it to them. Her education was confined to the rudiments obtained at the village school which was kept by her uncle, Thibault Guilbert. In spiritual things her progress was so rapid that the parish priest, M. Dangicourt, allowed her to make her First Communion and to be confirmed at the age of nine years. At this time she made a vow of chastity. Misfortunes overtook the Billiart family when Julie was sixteen, and she gave herself generously to the aid of her parents, working in the fields with the reapers. She was held in such high esteem for her virtue and piety as to be commonly called, "the saint of Cuvilly". When twenty-two years old, a nervous shock, occasioned by a pistol-shot fired at her father by some unknown enemy, brought on a paralysis of the lower limbs, which in a few years confined her to her bed a helpless cripple, and thus she remained for twenty-two years. During this time, when she received Holy Communion daily, Julie exercised an uncommon gift of prayer, spending four or five hours a day in contemplation. The rest of her time was occupied in making linens and laces for the alter and in catechizing the village children whom she gathered around her bed, giving special attention to those who were preparing for their First Communion.
At Amiens, where Julie Billiart had been compelled to take refuge with Countess Baudoin during the troublesome times of the French Revolution, she met Françoise Blin de Bourdon, Viscountess of Gizaincourt, who was destined to be her co-laborer in the great work as yet unknown to either of them. The Viscountess Blin de Bourdon was thirty-eight years old at the time of her meeting with Julie, and had spent her youth in piety and good works; she had been imprisoned with all of her family during the Reign of Terror, and had escaped death only by the fall of Robespierre. She was not at first attracted by the almost speechless paralytic, but by degrees grew to love and admire the invalid for her wonderful gifts of soul. A little company of young and high-born ladies, friends of the viscountess, was formed around the couch of "the saint". Julie taught them how to lead the interior life, while they devoted themselves generously to the cause of God and His poor. Though they attempted all the exercises of an active community life, some of the elements of stability must have been wanting, for these first disciples dropped off until none was left but Françoise Blin de Bourdon. She was never to be separated from Julie, and with her in 1803, in obedience to Father Varin, superior of the Fathers of the Faith, and under the auspices of the Bishop of Amiens, the foundation was laid of the Institute of the Sisters of Notre Dame, a society which had for its primary object the salvation of poor children. Several young persons offered themselves to assist the two superiors. The first pupils were eight orphans. On the feast of the Sacred Heart, 1 June, 1804, Mother Julie, after a novena made in obedience to her confessor, was cured of paralysis. The first vows of religion were made on 15 October, 1804 by Julie Billiart, Françoise Blin de Bourdon, Victoire Leleu, and Justine Garson, and their family names were changed to names of saints. They proposed for their lifework the Christian education of girls, and the training of religious teachers who should go wherever their services were asked for. Father Varin gave the community a provisional rule by way of probation, which was so far-sighted that its essentials have never been changed. In view of the extension of the institute, he would have it governed by a superior-general, charged with visiting the houses, nominating the local superiors, corresponding with the members dispersed in the different convents, and assigning the revenues of the society. The characteristic devotions of the Sisters of Notre Dame were established by the foundress from the beginning. She was original in doing away with the time-honored distinction between choir sisters and lay sisters, but this perfect equality of rank did not in any way prevent her from putting each sister to the work for which her capacity and education fitted her. She attached great importance to the formation of the sisters destined for the schools, and in this she was ably assisted by Mother St. Joseph (Françoise Blin de Bourdon), who had herself received an excellent education.
When the congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame was approved by an imperial decree dated 19 June, 1806, it numbered thirty members, In that and the following years, foundations were made in various towns of France and Belgium, the most important being those at Ghent and Namur, of which the latter house Mother St. Joseph was the first superior. This spread of the institute beyond the Diocese of Amiens cost the foundress the greatest sorrow of her life. In the absence of Father Varin from that city, the confessor of the community, the Abbé de Sambucy de St. Estève, a man of superior intelligence and attainments but enterprising and injudicious, endeavored to change the rule and fundamental constitutions of the new congregation so as to bring it into harmony with the ancient monastic orders. He so far influenced the bishop. Mgr. Demandolx, that Mother Julie had soon no alternative but to leave the Diocese of Amiens, relying upon the goodwill of Mgr. Pisani de la Gaude, bishop of Namur, who had invited her to make his episcopal city the center of her congregation, should a change become necessary. In leaving Amiens, Mother Julie laid the case before all her subjects and told them they were perfectly free to remain or to follow her. All but two chose to go with her, and thus, in themid-winter of 1809, the convent of Namur became the motherhouse of the institute and is so still. Mgr. Demandolx, soon undeceived, made all the amends in his power, entreating Mother Julie to return to Amiens and rebuild her institute. She did indeed return, but after a vain struggle to find subjects or revenues, went back to Namur. The seven years of life that remained to her were spent in forming her daughters to solid piety and the interior spirit, of which she was herself the model. Mgr. De Broglie, bishop of Ghent, said of her that she saved more souls by her inner life of union with God than by her outward apostolate. She received special supernatural favors and unlooked-for aid in peril and need. In the space of twelve years (1804 - 1816) Mother Julie founded fifteen convents, made one hundred and twenty journeys, many of them long and toilsome, and carried on a close correspondence with her spiritual daughters. Hundreds of these letters are preserved in the motherhouse. In 1815 Belgium was the battlefield of the Napoleonic wars, and the mother-general suffered great anxiety, as several of her convents were in the path of the armies, but they escaped injury. In January, 1816, she was taken ill, and after three months of pain borne in silence and patience, she died with the Magnificat on her lips. The fame of her sanctity spread abroad and was confirmed by several miracles. The process of her beatification, begun in 1881, was completed in 1906 by the decree of Pope Pius X dated 13 May, declaring her Blessed. [Note: She was canonized in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.]
St. Julie's predominating trait in the spiritual order was her ardent charity, springing from a lively faith and manifesting itself in her thirst for suffering and her zeal for souls. Her whole soul was echoed in the simple and naove formula which was continually on her lips and pen: "Oh, qu'il est bon, le bon Dieu" (How good God is). She possessed all the qualities of a perfect superior, and inspired her subjects with filial confidence and tender affection.

(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)