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Monday, May 18, 2009

Sophie's Journal - 17

Mother Barat often used anecdotes to illustrate the point she was making in her conference. While giving a talk on the Rules of Modesty, she recounted how Saint Francis of Assisi went out with one of his companions saying: "Let us go and preach." After having made the rounds of the town, he returned to the monastery. His companion protested: "Father, you said you wished to preach." To which Francis replied that he had just done so. He made him understand that by their modesty they had produced more fruit than if he had given a long sermon.

Mother Barat began her retreat in February. She told the novices that in order to help them she was entering into solitude with God because to guide you in the paths of sanctity I must be there myself." Therese Maillucheau wrote a description of Mother Barat's first retreat at Poitiers: "In the garden was an isolated little chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph where our Mother went into solitude and where she gave free rein to the tender effusions of her heart for God. No one under any pretext could go to her." She also said that during this time "our Mother remained in the depths of God, heart to heart with Jesus, speaking only to her confessor, and that briefly. We only saw her in the evening, at the far end of the chapel when she came to visit the Blessed Sacrament."

Sophie remained in retreat more than the usual eight days. She wrote in the Journal, "I finished my retreat at the end of thirteen days. I would have liked to prolong it still, but I thought before God that I should give up my own satisfaction in favor of the duty of being in the midst of my sisters."

I have been blessed with the grace of having made several retreats of 30 days and none has seemed long to me. I have also given the 30-day to retreat to priests and religious brothers and sisters and it is always a grace. In Chile I gave many directed retreats every summer and each was a grace for me. This summer the directed retreat I will be making is only six days but I will take a few days hopefully somewhere before starting back at the University. If you have not had a retreat where you can sink into silence with God, I suggest you make one. It is such a grace!

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