Saturday, September 30, 2017
How others saw Philippine
I was struck by what Philippine said of herself at the end of a long letter to Father Barat and then what two of her own community were writing about her in 1821.
Philippine to Father Barat on March 7 said: "I am by nature more fitted to be a servant. Something quite different is needed in one who guides souls. But God does His own work. My two young religious sisters advance steadily toward perfection and relish all the poverty and abjection from which they suffer so much, for ours is not a life of convenience. That should be the disposition of all who come to join us. They must accept suffering and have God alone as their support.
...Our Mothers and Sisters here are fairly well and I am more vigorous than ever, but I have few teeth left. . . "
While Mother Duchesne was writing in depreciating terms, Mother Berthold wrote to Madeleine Sophie:
"We are so happy under her care. Her three years of superiority are up, but, Reverend Mother, do not listen to her request to be relieved of office. What would we do without her? There are seven of us in her little family now. We love each other very much and our hearts are all one with hers. . . Furthermore, she knows the country and the character of the people. Anyone else would be an apprentice, as it were, in all this."
The very next day Sister Catherine Lamarre was writing to Amiens: "Last fall we came very near losing our dear Mother Duchesne, but our Divine Master knows how necessary she is to us and so He restored her to health. What a terrible loss it would be if she were taken away! May the Sacred Heart be blessed a thousand times for having saved her for us."
Next week will move on more quickly in the life of Philippine. I love reviewing Mother Callan's life and the above letters are quoted from her book. She was writing the book and reading it to us Chapter by Chapter when I was in summer school at Maryville as a young nun. She was reading it aloud to us so the Maryville College community could offer criticism.
For my first two years after the noviciate we had twelve weeks of summer school. I went to retreat during the middle of that one year out at St. Charles. As Mother Callan was also making that same retreat, she offered to read the last chapter of her book with the death of Philippine during the retreat and some of us were in tears hearing her read during our noon meal. It was so moving. However, I still have more to share before we get to Philippine's death.