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Letter: Ash Wednesday 1854


This quote, to me, has one of the most interesting stories behind it. It can be found in a letter that Saint Mother Theodore wrote on Ash Wednesday in 1854. It was written to Sister Mary Xavier, who was ill in Vincennes, Indiana. The letter is rather short and to the point. Mother Theodore wished for Sister Mary Xavier to get well and asked her to try to avoid whatever it was that might be making her ill. She also permitted her to omit fasting for the lent season due to her illness.

Then Mother Theodore expressed concern for the bishop. She admitted that she wasn’t sure why, but she was concerned about the bishop’s health. She trusted  that Sister Mary Xavier would pray for him as well. She wrote, “You have the opportunity of seeing him and knowing how he is. Then your heart will tell you what to do.” According to her letter, he was not in danger, but Mother Theodore was still for some reason in fear. Then she wrote “we are always in fear about what we treasure”. (page 369, Journals and Letters).

It seems that when Mother Theodore wrote this letter, she had some sort of gut instinct about the bishop. In a letter written shortly after, on April 3rd 1854, to Sister Basilide, Mother Theodore discussed the bishop again. He had paid her a visit and was, in fact, ill. She mentioned that many people found him looking “greatly changed” and noted that he was sleeping and coughing quite often. (page 372, Journals and Letters).

So, if we sum it up, we understand that Mother Theodore’s gut told her something wasn’t right with the bishop. Turns out, the next time she saw him, he was sick. Interesting, huh? Moral to the story? It’s okay to listen to your heart. It might know something that you don’t.


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Jena Thralls

Jena graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She worked for the Sisters of Providence as a Marketing Manager.

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