Journals and Letters week 38: Communicating with postulants and sisters
(Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters” pages page 338 to page 346 bottom. This is located in “Part VI: Later Letters (1846–1856)” starting with “Postulants from Europe.” Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore’s writings every week in the coming year.)
Mother Theodore had to wear many hats in her lifetime. Her letters throughout the book really exemplify the many roles she had to play. Sometimes she was loving and encouraging. Other times she was stern and even angry. In this section of the reading I was really struck by how her communication style changed with each situation.
Postulants from Europe
In the letter that begins this section Mother Theodore writes what I think is a beautiful welcome to three young ladies who are at the beginning of their journey of joining the Community. You can feel the genuine love and joy she already feels for these postulants. How wonderful and reassuring that must have felt.
She also throws in a dash of reality when she warns, “If your hearts waver, if you are afraid of the cross, of poverty, of humiliations, do not leave France; you would not be suitable for our little Community.” I really love that she doesn’t sugar-coat things. Life was hard enough in Indiana, so being truthful about what it entailed was a good thing for all involved.
On the other hand
By contrast her letters to Sister Maria and Sister Basilide had quite a different tone. Ouch! It’s clear immediately that she is not happy with them. She doesn’t beat around the bush. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be on the receiving end of those letters, although I do appreciate her ability to get to the point.
In her letter to Sister Maria she wrote, “Occupy yourself less about yourself and more about God.” Mother Theodore was really good with the one-liners!
With Sister Basilide she did leave room for her to give her side of the story. I hope we learn what her defense was. I do wonder if it was a situation, as Mother Theodore hoped, where it was just a misunderstanding.
Did you know?
We have an inspiration search on our website where you can find quotes from Mother Theodore and others searchable by topic and/or author. Find it here.
Put yourself in the shoes of both the new postulants. How would you have felt if you received the welcome letter from Mother Theodore? What stood out?
Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been reprimanded like Sister Maria and Sister Basilide? How would you have felt reading that letter?