Journals and Letters week 19: Back home in Indiana
[Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters” page 169 to page 180. Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore’s writings every week in the coming year.]
There’s something about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
“My joy would have been complete had I only been with my dear Solitaires in the Woods.” This is the first whole sentence we are greeted with as we begin page 169. Hearing Mother Theodore express this sentiment nearly made my heart burst. How much she loved her dear sisters and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. When she finally does arrive home at the Woods she describes the feelings of reuniting as “too deep for words.” The legacy of love she left here can still be seen every day among the sisters, associates, staff and supporters. It’s akin to being part of a club that welcomes all.
After reuniting with her sisters Mother Theodore must leave Saint Mary’s to visit three establishments in Indiana. On her first stop, she arrives in Vincennes just in time for the diocesan synod, a retreat for clergy. This causes her to reflect on what has been accomplished in the diocese in a very short time. “How quickly has the grain of mustard seed grown into a tree?” She writes about the contributions of Bishop Simon Bruté after hearing a sermon by Father Deydier. Her admiration for him and others is very clear. “These are the models in life and in death that we are to copy, we are continuing their labors.” I wondered if she had an inkling how many people would one day feel that way about her?
Mother Theodore travels on to Montgomery to visit the sisters at St. Peter’s. This establishment was formed while she was away in France. She seems rather taken aback at their living conditions and her maternal instincts become rather evident. “ … but I must say that if I had been here, I would not have allowed them to pass the winter in such a house.” Mother Theodore even tries to persuade them to come back to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods with her, but they refuse. She reluctantly lets them stay but doesn’t seem too happy about it. How many times have I had this exact same feeling with some of the choices my children make?
If you’ve ever been to Jasper you probably already know it still has strong German roots. My son’s middle school tennis team played in a tournament there every year so I am quite familiar with the Schnitzelbank Restaurant which was right next to the hotel where we stayed. After spending all day with middle school boys, I may have even drunk a good German beer out of glass shaped like a boot.
I loved Mother Theodore’s recount of how the “good Germans” of Jasper “came every Sunday seven or ten miles to sing hymns in the church.” I personally found her telling of it a bit humorous as she marveled at their dedication. “I must admit I was very tired; and I say to my shame that my fervor was put to the blush when I saw all these fervent Christians begin again their pious procession.”
I really enjoyed this passage. Through Mother Theodore’s own descriptive words, I became deeply immersed. Her humanity really shines through and you can clearly see why so many still are dedicated to her and the legacy she left at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Perhaps my favorite takeaway is near the end of the reading where she addresses the supporters to whom she is writing. “Being poor we can only plant: you must water; and to God alone be the glory of the increase.”
We love comments!
Tell us what you thought about this passage. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Long separation from loved ones is something many people are currently experiencing. What are some qualities that Mother Theodore exhibited that could encourage us in these trying times?
What are ways you try to protect your loved ones like Mother Theodore?
Next week > page 181 to page 190 bottom
View the complete reading series.