Saint Mother Theodore’s advice to an impatient sister: unpublished letters
Editor’s note: I love this next previously unpublished note from Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, written by Saint Mother Theodore toward the end of her life. As a person who lacks patience (often in the kitchen with children even!) this letter really speaks to me. Thanks for the timeless wisdom, Mother Theodore!
To Sister Veronique
St. Mary’s, January 4, 1856
My dear Sister,
It appears to me that the great obstacle to your advancement in virtue is your propensity to impatience. If you had sufficient empire over yourself to be gentle and kind, first towards your Sisters, then towards the children who assist you, your soul would enjoy much more peace; you would perform your spiritual exercises with much more fervor and spiritual profit. So I think, my daughter, that you ought to turn all your strength of will to that point, and often say to yourself, “Come, my soul, can you not make the sacrifice of a word to please your God, who suffered so much for you from the moment of His birth in a stable to that of His death upon the Cross?”
Make your examen on meekness in words, and mark it as a fault whenever you have refused to your Sisters, or given with bad grace, what they asked for; then, to repair the fault, give kindly and with gracious and gentle words what they need, saying interiorly, “For Thee, my God, for Thee!”
Above all, be gentle and kind towards the little girls who help you. You may do them much good, or much harm. Never will those children forget what they have seen in you. If you are gentle, patient, and charitable towards them, they will reproach themselves when they fail at their homes. They will say, “How imperfect we are! Sister V. was so patient and kind; when shall we resemble her? If, on the contrary, you will have given bad example, they will say to themselves, the Sisters are no better than others. Sister V. used to scold us and push us about when she was out of humor.”
You see, now, my daughter, how in your kitchen you can exercise a sort of apostolate, either for God or against Him. Watch well, then, over yourself, so as to place and to gain over to Him the hearts of the children entrusted to you.
I thank you for saying the Beads of the Immaculate Conception in thanksgiving for my improvement. Continue to say them. I myself say them every day.
I offer you my good wishes for the New Year in return for yours. Let us pray for each other, so that the few days which remain for us to live may be employed in the service of God to gain souls to Him. Soon heaven will be the recompense of the sacrifices which we shall have made.
Have courage, my dear Sister Veronique; if you wish it, you will be a great saint, through the violence you will use against your passions, which are so very strong.