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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Janet Erskine Stuart, Religious of the Sacred Heart

One of the best known Religious of the Sacred Heart was the holy, brilliant, and fascinating Janet Erskine Stuart. I am going to talk about her in several blogs as we are preparing for the centenary of her death in 2014. She was a wise and wonderful person who wrote so well and we are fortunate to have accounts of her long voyages, her letters, conferences, and other writings such as plays and poems.
Today I am using a little booklet called "The Inward Life" that contains extracts from the letters of Mother Stuart and was compiled by Maud Monahan, the author of "The Life and Letters of Mother Janet Erskine Stuart" that I have read many times and delight in it each time.
As I want my readers to learn to know and love Janet as I do, I will begin with a short biographical note that is also at the beginning of "The Inward Life."

"Mother Stuart was born on November 11th, 1857, in the Anglican Rectory at Cottesmore. As a child of thirteen she set out on a solitary search for Truth, having been roused to this great venture by a casual remark of one of her brothers, that Aristotle held that every rational creature must have a last end. The search occupied several years and landed her in the Catholic Church at the age of twenty-one. Three and a half years later she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton, where she was to spend the great part of her religious life. Named Mistress of Novices immediately after her profession, she became Superior Vicar in 1894. She held this post for seventeen years; years in which peace was her gift to all who came near her. Having acquired to perfection that art of managing her own soul and of living from moment to moment on the Will of God, she directed all her energies to helping others to do likewise. A born ruler and educator, she was at the same time an ideal friend..."
She was elected Superior General in 1911 and her residence was the Mother house of the Society of the Sacred Heart in Brussels, but much of the last three years of her life was spent in visiting our convents in all parts of the world. She died on October 21, 1914 and is buried in the little Chapel at Roehampton.
Here is an excerpt from a letter:"The only possible contentment for our souls is in God, and remember that to doubt or kick or repine or judge hardly of God is to go back to the old fetish-worship which you have given up. A God who could be anything but incomparably sweet and loving is not our own God...think the best and sweetest thoughts and believe them, but you can never reach half of what He is..."

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