Saint Claude de la Colombiere's Despair Prayer

May 31st, 1992
Brother John Raymond

	Blessed Claude de la Colombiere was born on February 2nd, 1641 in
 a small town in the diocese of Grenoble, France. Claude's parents
 were very devout as is evidenced by the vocations of their children
 - a Jesuit, a Sulpician Father, a Diocesan Priest and a Visitation
	In 1650 Claude was sent to a junior college in Lyons run by the
 Jesuits. His character was noted to be reserved and even a bit
 bashful. But he was always ready to help those in need. At the age
 of seventeen Claude felt the inward calling to the religious life.
 He entered the Jesuit novitiate house in Avignon.
	In 1674 Claude prepared for his final religious vows. During this
 time he wrote, "On the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the
 Blessed Virgin, I resolved so to abandon myself to God that I am no
 longer anxious about my behavior, either inwardly or outwardly."
 This unbounded confidence in God continued to grow. Finally Claude
 made a special vow of unreserved fidelity to God which bound him in
 a special way to fulfill perfectly the rules of his Order.
	On February 2nd, 1675 Claude bound himself to God by his Final
 Vows as a Jesuit religious. Soon after this his superiors sent him
 to the small town of Paray-le-Monial to work in a college there.
	It would seem a bit strange to send someone with Claude's
 abilities and commitment to such an out-of-the-way place. Yet,
 Heaven willed this for in the Visitation Convent in this town was a
 nun waiting for spiritual help: St. Margaret Mary. Our Blessed Lord
 had promised her, "I will send you My faithful servant and perfect
 friend who will teach you to know Me and abandon yourself to Me."
 Thus Fr. Claude became her spiritual advisor. St. Margaret Mary had
 received visions and revelations of Our Lord regarding His Sacred
 Heart. Jesus told her to reveal everything about His Heart to Fr.
 Claude so that "he would come to know It and make Its worth and
 value known to all."
	In September of 1676 Fr. Claude was sent to England to be a
 Chaplain to the Duchess of York. This was no easy assignment as
 Catholics at this time were being persecuted in England. In 1673 the
 Test Act imposed an obligation on all those who aspired to public
 office to declare that they did not believe in Our Lord's Real
 Presence in the Holy Eucharist. In 1677 Fr. Colombiere wrote, "In
 this country they make it a point of honor to doubt Your Real
 Presence in this Holy Sacrament. I feel much consolation in making
 acts of faith many times a day in the reality of Your adorable Body
 under the appearances of bread and wine. I would willingly give my
 blood to persuade them of this truth which I believe and which I
	One year later his apostolic zeal started to break down his
 health. On the eve of the Assumption he began to cough up blood. Yet
 he remained in England. In 1678 Titus Oates accused the Pope of
 claiming sovereignty over England and of having delegated his powers
 to the Jesuits who resided in the country. With his lies Oates
 convinced many that the Catholics were going to overthrow the
 country. All were suspect, especially the Jesuits. In November Fr.
 Claude was falsely accused of speaking against the king by a young
 man who pretended to be converted by him for three months. Soon he
 was arrested and brought before the court. After some questioning
 the only thing he could be charged with was converting people to
 Catholicism. So Fr. Claude was placed in jail for three weeks until
 they could come up with more charges against him.
	In the dungeon, besides his serious physical ailment, he suffered
 from cold, dampness and hunger. Witnesses were still being summoned
 against him. They hoped to accuse him of high treason so that he
 would receive the death sentence. But no serious charge could be
 brought against him. So on December 6th it was decided to exile him
 from the country.
	In 1678 Fr. Claude was back in France. One year later, when his
 health improved a little, he was given the care of some young Jesuit
 religious at the College of the Trinity in Lyons. In these religious
 he instilled his own burning love for the Sacred Heart. This was
 prompted by a letter Sister Margaret Mary had written to him
 regarding devotion to the Sacred Heart saying, "My Father, I entreat
 you, don't overlook any occasion to inspire everybody with it. Jesus
 Christ has made me understand that it is by means of the fathers of
 the Society of Jesus that He wishes to establish this devotion
	In 1681 the Jesuit superiors decided that Fr. Claude, for health
 reasons, would be better off at the little college in
 Paray-le-Monial. Fr. Claude's health continued to decline. At the
 beginning of February, 1682 Fr. Claude had a violent attack of
 fever. On February 15th at seven in the evening he died.
	Fr. Claude de la Colombiere was beatified on June 16, 1929. He
 will be canonized this May 31st by Pope John Paul II. Let us ask him
 to help us become perfect friends of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

	The following prayer was written by St. Claude for a young
 religious at the point of despair:

	Lord, I am in this world to show Your mercy to others. Other
 people will glorify You by making visible the power of Your grace by
 their fidelity and constancy to You. For my part I will glorify You
 by making known how good You are to sinners, that Your mercy is
 boundless and that no sinner no matter how great his offences should
 have reason to despair of pardon. If I have grievously offended You,
 My Redeemer, let me not offend You even more by thinking that You
 are not kind enough to pardon Me. Amen.