This Advent, Ignatian writers from across the Jesuit Conference are sharing 25 days of reflections on Ignatian heroes. You can receive these reflections directly in your inbox by signing up here.
Day 24: Claude Colombiere
By Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ
My favorite Jesuit saint got fired from his most important job. This marked the beginning of his true Jesuit mission. Let me explain.
St. Claude Colombiere, SJ was a French priest in the late 1600s. He was a man of prayer, a good spiritual director and a fine preacher. After working at a small parish in France, he got his big break: He was sent to London to be chaplain to the Duchess of York. It was a complicated time. The Protestant reformation was roiling kings and kingdoms. The Jesuits were eager to support a Catholic Duchess in Anglican England.
Soon false rumors of a “papist plot” swirled in the London fog. Fr. Claude was accused of trying to overthrow the king and was thrown into the Tower of London. After weeks in the dank dungeon, he was exiled back to the same French parish.
At this moment, most of us [me included] may think, “I had my big chance and now it’s over; and it wasn’t my fault.” Claude isn’t most of us. He took up his new [old] duties with warmth and trust. He began meeting with a young nun for spiritual direction. Her name was Margaret Mary Alacoque, VHM, now a saint. She discussed with him her mysterious and powerful visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Claude heard the voice of Christ speaking through her. Claude’s heart was open to God and his people; in a century of religious wars, Christ spoke to Claude’s heart, and Claude spoke to many hearts.
Claude writes, “This heart is still the same, always burning with love for us, always open so as to shower down graces and blessings upon us, always touched by our sorrows … always ready to receive us, to be our refuge and our heaven, even in this world” [“The Spiritual Direction of St Claude de la Colombiere,” Ignatius Press, p 46].
Advising kings and queens is important. So is humble service in a rural parish and spiritual direction with a young sister. Through her visions, God brought great renewal to France and to the church. The simple eternal love of God is shown through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. God touched many hearts through the prayers and ministry of the shepherd St. Claude. On this final day of Advent, let us adore the Sacred Heart of Jesus — the heart that beat in the womb of Mother Mary.
Reflection: Have you ever experienced “professional setbacks” like St. Claude? How might God will ushering you into a new — or old — role of great importance?
Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ, is a Catholic, Jesuit priest. He was ordained in 2011. He is the author of “Love Him Evermore: A 9-Day Personal Retreat with the Sacred Heart of Jesus” and “Abide in the Heart of Christ: a 10-Day Personal Retreat with St Ignatius Loyola, based on the Spiritual Exercises.” He is the national director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer). This 175-year-old Jesuit ministry promotes a life of prayer for all people. Each day, we can offer our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the salvation of all hearts. Fr. Joe is also a National Eucharistic Preacher for the USCCB Eucharistic Revival.