Frustration and love: unpublished Mother Theodore
Editor’s note: When discussing this letter, it was suggested that we might want to leave this an unpublished letter of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin because of its violent language. I think it is worth sharing.
We as Providence people talk often about nonviolence in our language and actions. Yet if we look at the Psalms, we find a great deal of violent language. By praying for violence, the psalmist offers an honest glimpse into his humanity. At the same time the writer is letting go of his own opportunity inflict the violence. The writer is releasing all responsibility for punishment to God. So any act of retribution committed by the psalmist becomes a sin of lack of faith in God.
Mother Theodore certainly parses no words in her criticism of Sister Maria, but in true Mother Theodore form, she provides a means of correction and shows full confidence that Sister Maria will overcome her faults even to the point of perfection.
St. Mary’s, Feb. 18, 1853
I was not able to write you sooner because I was sick, as I still am. If you had asked with simplicity for the shoes you thought you needed you would have avoided the serious fault you have committed. I think if I were Sister B—– I should be ready to beat you to a mummy, you are so provoking. How can you expect to be loved if you act in this manner? They bear with you through charity. If you wish to be loved you must be amiable. Assuredly Sister B—- would love you, for it requires very little to gain her affection, she has such a good heart.
Simplicity – the word defines itself. To be simple is not to be double. You are double in thinking you need shoes, in wishing to have them and yet, not telling this to your Superior. You fail in this virtue every time you pretend what you do not think.
Continue to tell your confessor all that troubles you. It is not necessary to do more. You know that he has the power to absolve you of all your faults; this is all that is needed.
The eagerness that you feel in eating may be an effect of your health without being greediness. Take with simplicity what you need, without being uneasy.
Profit by the experience you have just had at your own expense and not speak to the children but with prudence and discretion. There is no way of repairing what you have done but by showing the pupils what you can do.
Do your utmost to be recollected at the time of prayer. There you will obtain all the graces you need, in order to overcome your passions and to acquire the virtues which should adorn your soul. You will also obtain humility to see your faults without being vexed and discouraged. With a little good will you will become perfect at last; so, be of good heart and pray for your poor Mother.
Sister St. Theodore