Journals and Letters week 10: First letters, bishop issues
I am so thankful that the Sisters of Providence have been able to preserve so many of these letters for all of us. I love how in her letters Mother Theodore pours out worries and faith, wisdom and encouragement. In the letters we read this week, she is corresponding with two Indiana priests. Both priests originated from the same area of France that she did. These priests offer support and help bring new sisters to the growing young community. (Twelve new sisters in six months!)
In her relationship with Father Martin, I am happy to see that she has a friend and trusted advisor to help her. Especially, as we see from her letter, since things do not seem to be going smoothly with the bishop of Vincennes just a few months in. I really love how she tries to see the good in him and offers some charity in her description of the bishop here: “He is an excellent father. I have never found a more compassionate heart, one more charitable, under so cold an exterior.”
As she goes on, we get a feel for more of the distress coming the sisters’ way from the bishop. “So far there has been nothing but complaints about us,” she writes.
She acknowledges the sisters are struggling with such negativity. Not all are able to remain charitable toward him. She says, “This good will, of course, is not equally strong in all the Sisters, but you know dear Father, grace is not given equally to all, nor at the same time.” I like those words of wisdom. I too have had times I am able to face difficulties with grace. And other times, I just am not.
Good for nothing
Having lived through abusive behaviors, I recognize them in her description of the bishop’s. In addition to there being nothing but complaints about the sisters, she mentions that they are “under humiliation.” They now find themselves “good for nothing.”
“Oh good way for the proud, accustomed to be praised, admired and carried along, and who now find themselves, like rejected stones, good for nothing!”
I can imagine how hard it would be as sisters who have given up everything to come to a new country to serve people in need to now face nothing but criticism from the person who has so much control over their lives. So disheartening. But Mother Theodore continues to lead with grace and lean on friends such as Father Martin for advice and counsel.
I know what is coming in her relationship with the bishop. I am sad that the sisters had to endure being under his thumb for so many years.
How do you handle adversity? How can you better tap into God’s grace when facing challenges?
What about Saint Mother Theodore affects you in these letters?
Next week > page 78 to page 89