Saturday, June 6, 2009
Letters of St. Madeleine Sophie
Mother Barat's letters reveal her own character, problems, joys and sorrows, and her concerns at the time of writing. She writes as a spiritual mother directing her daughters rather than as a superior general correcting them; the letters reveal her maternal love as well as her wisdom. Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ, in a talk given to the Network of Sacred Heart schools in October, 2007, says this about Sophie's letters:
"...despite the widespread impact of her life's work, and the growth of the Society under her direction, she is a woman whose vision, struggle, and spiritual insights are not widely known beyond the international family of the Sacred Heart because she left no treatises behind. What she did leave us are literally thousands of letters. Sophie's correspondence is a treasure trove--her letters are filled with wisdom and intelligence, teachings on the holy life, personal reflections, astute character assessments, advice for those in leadership, and glimpses of the sufferings and struggles that she experienced. There are traces of humor and wit, of annoyance and pique...Sophie emerges as a thoroughly delightful woman and also thoroughly human,....She is very down to earth, very approachable, very like us. What sets her apart is her passion for God, the depth of her prayer, and her zeal for the mission which drove her expansion of the Society's educational works to four continents before her death."
I have found that reading the letters of Sophie is a way to get to know her. She is spontaneous and mixes the spiritual with the practical business of running schools, making foundations, struggling with her own ill health --all led her to the Heart of Jesus.