Journals and Letters week 15: Stuck in New Orleans
[Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters” page 123 to page 132 mid-page. Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin‘s writings every week in the coming year.]
After a horrendous eight-week journey by sea, Mother Theodore returns from France only to find herself stuck in New Orleans, too ill to continue traveling. How frustrating it must have been for her to delay still further her arrival at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods when there was so much to be done!
No time to rest
From her sickbed, Mother Theodore still had to keep watch over what was going on back at the Woods. While she was away Bishop de la Hailandière had created havoc for the community, demanding that he be obeyed despite legitimate objections to his requests. Sister St. Francis Xavier tried to gently push back, but her opinion did not seem to matter to him. The Bishop of Le Mans even sent a letter to Bishop de la Hailandière, reminding him that he was overstepping his role and that he should only serve as the sisters’ “guardian and protector.” I was really happy to read how the Bishop of Le Mans defended the right of the sisters’ community to manage themselves.
I’m sure in light of all that was happening, Mother Theodore felt helpless. She was surely ready to return to the Woods so she could sort this all out. Not only did she need to deal with the Bishop’s shenanigans in her absence, she also had the solemn task of comforting and assuring the sisters as they prepared for their split from their beloved Ruillé. This impending separation was causing a great deal of anxiety and insecurity in the community. It was her job to lead them through it.
Away so long
Mother Theodore had been gone for an extended time from her rural life at the Woods. During her time in a more developed France, she clearly led a much different life. Upon her return she asked for a “special grace” to bring herself “back to recollection of spirit and become a true Religious” after so much “activity and dissipation.” Even though she loved her Indiana home, how difficult that must have been to adjust back to such a different lifestyle.
She’s just like us
I absolutely loved Mother Theodore’s comment comparing herself to Sister St. Francis Xavier in a letter to Reverend A. Martin. “She (Sister Francis) is a good daughter of Providence. Really. I am humiliated in seeing her run in the way of perfection while I just drag along.” I feel like we all have that one friend we absolutely adore who at the same time makes us feel a little bit like we can’t ever keep up with them. It was such a funny comment from a woman who is admired and respected by so many people.
Why do you think Bishop de la Hailandière wanted to interfere with the Community? How would it have been different if Mother Theodore was not away?
How do you think Saint Mother Mother Theodore would react to how much she is admired?
Next week > page 132 to page 145
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