Monday, June 8, 2020

Pentecost and the Lumière

Have you ever had an experience that was so life-changing and memorable that you just had to write about it afterwards? Perhaps you relayed it in great detail in a diary, prayer journal, or letter to a friend. St. Louise had experience like that on the Feast of Pentecost in 1623.

Louise had been going through a very difficult time. In 1620, after only seven years of marriage, her husband Antoine fell ill. His illness, probably tuberculosis, made him moody and irritable and would, five years later, result in his death. In this time of darkness, Louise began to blame herself for her husband's distress and wondered whether this was a punishment from God. She even questioned her life choice of marriage (and she had never forgotten her original intention to become a nun, a choice which had been denied by the superior of the order due to her own fragile health.) Louise was filled with great anguish and self-doubt. She questioned her own goodness and felt that she was a failure in the eyes of God. Anyone who has struggled with depression, hopelessness, or regret can identify with her feelings at this time.

While at Mass on the Feast of Pentecost, Louise received a powerful experience of God's love and grace, which she called "Light" (in French, Lumière). We are blessed that her written description of this event still exists to this day and we can read the compelling words written in her own hand:

"My mind was instantly freed of all doubt. I was advised that I should remain with my husband and that a time would come when I would be in a position to make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and that I would be in a small community where others would do the same. I then understood that I would be in a place where I could help my neighbor, but I did not understand how this would be possible since there was to be much coming and going."

It is interesting to note that, even though Louise received great assurance of God's love, guidance, and care for her, she did not yet have a full understanding of what the future would hold. In fact, we know that she would continue to care for her ailing husband for at least two more years before his death. During that time, however, Louise would also meet Vincent de Paul who would become her spiritual director and would continue God's healing work in her heart. Together, they would revolutionize the care of those living in poverty and ultimately found the Daughters of Charity in 1633 where Louise would see the fulfillment of her Lumière in the taking of vows that her heart had longed for in the comings and goings of numerous Daughters of Charity in the service of those who are poor.

Can you recall a time when you felt an inner assurance of God's love and care for you, even when the future seemed uncertain?

Written by Sister Chris Maggi, D.C.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Feast of the Ascension

When I think of the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven, I think of it as being on a Thursday as we always called it "Ascension Thursday." But most Dioceses have moved it to the Seventh Sunday of Easter so many more Catholics can be present and truly celebrate this great feast.

I smile when I read the Entrance Antiphon because the Apostles got the same lecture my sister used to give me when I gawk at a new sight: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand there continuing to look up into the sky? Jesus, whom you saw ascending into heaven, will return the same way as you saw Him go up into heaven."

Jesus' message to the Apostles is "GO." GO throughout the world and tell the good news: that Jesus died to prove his great, unconditional love for us. He rose from the dead with the promise that He will be with you and me until the end of the world. Yes, Jesus is truly living in each one of us as we GO spreading God's love by loving and respecting others as we love and respect ourselves.

Written by Sister Caroline Clark, D.C.

Friday, May 8, 2020

St. Louise de Marillac

Shall I start with disclaimers first?

Who am I to write about, much less introduce, our Foundress?
At first thought there are so many other historians, musicians, sculptors, writers, poets and biographers among us that have portrayed her so very well in sundry ways. (I still hold on to that thought of “Who am I?”!) It is only after entering the Daughters of Charity that I grew to love this Louse de Marillac of a mysterious family of origin, of early formative years, of an unknown extended family and of yearnings to follow her heart’s deepest desires. I could say “…late have I loved thee” for want of recognizing her during my own early days in the Daughters of Charity. But then the days and the months and the years exposed me to these wise women who model Louse de Marillac so very well…. these Daughters of Charity as formators, as Spiritual Directors, as wise women figures who teach more by example than any words could convey: as Louise probably did. Given these living examples of Louise, I’ve probably learned even more about her from Grant Writing, Advancement initiatives,  Case Studies, Project research, Proposal preparations and anything else to further efforts to support those whom we serve…….. Our Poorest!

I’ve learned that Louise could never ignore her innate unyielding call to give herself totally to God…...the whispers of her heart could not be ignored nor submerged. Given her own 16th century of birth this mystical little girl could have grown up uneducated, dependent upon her family’s situation, marry, have children and die. For Louise this could have been her life, but for her “Father’s” claiming her as his natural daughter but not his legal heir. His status allowed for her elite schooling among the nobility as she continued to listen to her heart’s yearnings.

Fast forward to 1635 and Louise is a widow! She meets Vincent de Paul (the rest is history!). So here’s where the Advancement initiatives come into play (what would Louise say?). Overwhelmed with orphans to feed, legend has it that Louise made and sold jam to cover the costs. As needs surfaced, Louise collaborated with others (Friend Raising and Fund Raising!). Legend also tells of Louise making wine out of untended grape fields (pretty creative!) as a new sources of income for growing expenses. Louise’s innate organizational skills with a keen sense of one’s talents were the catalyst in addressing her day’s challenges…so catalyzing that these skills continue for our today! And in the midst of all of this, Louise continued to be urged by the Charity of Christ Crucified in serving: our motto, our tag line for today’s Daughters of Charity.

So!  Lessons for us from Louise de Marillac for today………. Can you

1.    Listen to your heart?

2.    Seek out good advice?

3.    Use your God given talents?

4.    Follow those you serve as they show you what they need?

5.    Use your God given talents to make it happen?

6.    Listen to your heart?

Written by Sister Marge Clifford, D.C.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Feast of the Annunciation & Vows as a Daughter of Charity

The Feast of the Annunciation celebrates the moment in which Jesus became human and entered the world as one of us. It was, at one time, known as the Feast of the Incarnation because it highlights the humanity which Jesus shares with us. In our Vincentian tradition, the incarnation is important as we see the face of God in others, especially people in need.

Of course, it is also a feast which celebrates Mary as the model of discipleship for us. In the parallel accounts of prophecy to Zechariah and Mary in the first chapter of Luke's gospel, we learn some important elements of what it means to be a good disciple. Zechariah hears the prophecy of the angel about the birth of John and is fearful and troubled. His first question is centered on himself and he asked, "How can I know this?" He has trouble truly hearing the words of the prophecy given to him and is, therefore, struck dumb--perhaps not as a punishment, but an opportunity given to him so that he must listen and take in the gift that God has given him.

Mary's response, in contrast, gives us a different view of how to be a disciple. When Mary encounters the angel, she is also troubled, but she listens to the words of the angel. She raises an objection which is really her searching for understanding. She doesn't receive an explanation, but is given an assurance that God will be with her. Her response, however, is her unqualified YES. She, a young woman in a society in which being either of those rendered one powerless, gives a YES which affirms her identity and trust in God. Mary gives this YES because she has been listening to the voice of God and has faith that God will be with her, no matter what happens.

For Daughters of Charity, this day is a special day because it is the day that we make our vows for another year. We make our life commitment as Daughters of Charity before we ever make vows, but the vows reflect that commitment. Each year, we are graced with the opportunity to reflect upon and renew our commitment to God and to the service of people living in poverty. I am grateful for this time each year to stop and consider how I am living the vows. Each year, it seems a different vow is my focus as I have yet another lesson to learn about how to live each vow better. I take great consolation from being in this long line of women who have been saying these words each year since the time of St. Louise.

Written by Sister Therese Haywood, D.C., Province of Australia

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A Response of LOVE to a call of LOVE

Each year on the Feast of the Annunciation, the Daughters of Charity throughout the world renew their vows.

Mary the Mother of Jesus is our model. Mary was a Servant of Faith. Her YES brought to birth her son, the Son of God, the one who changed the world. This birth offers hope to our world.

Creating moments of rebirth enables us to see glimpses of God; the God who calls each os us to co-create, to leave our world better than we found it.

Mary was invited by the angel to be the Mother of God. Her first response was, "How can this be?"

Many times in our own lives, we are asked or invited to do something and our response might be similar.

Mary's "Fiat" was holy because it is through her act of submission--her willingness to accept God's plan--that the Son of God makes His entrance into human history. Mary pondered the angel's words in her heart and then responded with her Fiat.

I saw many glimpses of the willingness to accept God's plan in my own mother's life. Her daily response to the needs of her family and others always came before responding to her own needs.

I have also seen many glimpses of the willingness to accept God's plan in the Daughters of Charity that I have lived with. These women have been faithful to their call to serve their sisters and brothers in need. This doesn't surprise me as our motto as Daughters is, "The Charity of Jesus Christ urges us."

Pondering, discerning, and listening are the only ways God can speak to my heart.

Mary's openness--our openness--allows the movement of God in our hearts and so we can enter that intimate relationship with the one who calls us to love. An intimacy that invites the God deep within us to do the impossible.

Our YES opens us up to new possibilities of the movement of God.

Our YES enables us to reach out and respond to those living in poverty in our world.

Our YES and our Fiat--our willingness--enables us to be transformed so that God can create something new.

Written by Sister Teresa Tighe, D.C., Province of Great Britain