Sunday, May 3, 2009
Sophie's Journal -5
I shall try to summarize the journey from Grenoble to Poitiers. Henriette Girard, who was in her forties, was chosen to be Sophie's companion probably because she would lend status to the youthful superior general who was only twenty-six. The Journal entry for July 11, 1806 tells us that nothing extraordinary happened until Lyon. We know that Sophie had not been well. She told St. Philippine Duchesne in a letter: "You know in what state I left you. When I arrived in Lyon, the heat of the journey had made me even worse and I was more ill than last year.." She said that she complained to the Lord because of the difficulty of being ill on such a long journey and among people "who might notice it." Then she was at peace. She added: "Before I left Lyon, my illness had completely disappeared without any remedies. I am quite cured." This cure seems to have been permanent.
The rest of the trip is recorded in the Journal with obvious enjoyment. The last stage of the trip was made in an old wagon full of merchandise. They sat on their own bundles with a piece of canvas to give some protection. Mother Barat wrote: "I understand that God had allowed this to make me practice humility and holy poverty, and that I might resemble our Divine Savior somewhat as I entered Poitiers. I rejoiced interiorly and took this as a good sign." She added that her companion had some trouble accepting the strange wagon; for her sake they mounted outside the city.
The first day they covered only nine miles and arrived at ten o'clock that night at a poor inn. The next day was Sunday and, after learning that their driver could not keep his promise to reach a town where they could assist at Mass, Sophie confided this to the Heart of Jesus and asked him to arrange Sunday Mass for them. Her trust was confirmed when the Church bells began to ring as they entered a village.
The dilapidated cart broke down on the third day. This was Sophie's feast day and seemed to her to be Divine Providence intervening to give her "the consolation of receiving the Sacraments on her feast day." The last day of the journey began in pouring rain that increased in density the nearer they came to Poitiers. They were wet and bedraggled on their arrival. Tomorrow, the Journal will describe their reception in the old monastery that had been built in 1618 by Louis XIII for the Cistercians. It was now partly in ruins.