Home » Blog » Journals and Letters week 41: Oh, Maria and other friends

Journals and Letters week 41: Oh, Maria and other friends

(Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters” page 364 to page 371 top. This is located in “Part VI: Later Letters (1846–1856)” starting with “To Sister Maria, Madison.” Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore’s writings every week.)

(Editor’s note: Once “Journals and Letters” blogs are submitted by the author, it is the editor’s job to write headlines and find art. This is typically done by Amy Miranda. As she is on vacation this week it fell upon me, Mary Riley. After reading Sister Denise’s article I had the song, “Maria” from “The Sound of Music” stuck in my head. This inspired me to use other songs to define each section. I hope Sister Denise, Amy and all of our faithful readers enjoy.)

The original  writing desk of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin facing a window. There are books in the left corner, a candle in a candle holder for light, paper and pens. There is a cross on the window sill. There are keys hanging on a hook on the wall to the right. On the left wall there is a black covering or dress.
Saint Mother Theodore’s writing desk now located in the shrine in Providence Spirituality & Conference Center

Dear Faithful Readers of Mother Theodore’s “Journals and Letters,”

Once again, we read letters addressed to people we’ve come to know well over these past months: Sister Maria of Madison, Bishop Augustine [Auguste] Martin of Natchitoches, Father Kundek of Jasper and Madame Le Fer de la Motte of St. Servan.

Mother Theodore felt great affection, appreciation and friendship for each of them. That same affection, appreciation and friendship let her be firm (today we’d say assertive) when she had to be.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Oh, our Sister Maria!  Will she ever learn? Mother Theodore repeats her communication pattern with Sister Maria, whose good intentions don’t always result in wise words or prudent actions. In two sentences she affirms and admonishes Sister Maria. “I rejoice in what you tell me of your willingness to suffer for God. But you are still far, my dear daughter, from the dispositions in which I wish to see you.”

Maria from the Sound of Music

You gotta be bold …

What did it cost Mother Theodore to say a firm and loving “no” to Bishop Martin? He had been steadfast in his support of Mother Theodore during the years of struggle with Bishop de la Hailandière. Yet she did say no to this bishop whom she considered a friend, a strong ally, a companion in zeal for the mission.

Mother Theodore responds clearly and lovingly to a request the bishop made. “If we do not grant what you ask, it is assuredly because it is not possible to do so.”

Des’ree – You Gotta Be

I am woman hear me roar!

Once again, Father Kundek pushes the envelope. He and Mother Theodore continue to negotiate school fees, the role of the trustees (read school board) and a house for the sisters teaching in the school.

Could this be clearer? “If we want to do anything lasting, the Sisters ought to have a house and lot that would belong to them. If the house is not theirs the establishment will always be a temporary affair that will suffer from the caprices of men.”

Helen Reddy – I Am Woman

I’ll be there for you.

Mother Theodore’s letter to Madame Le Fer de la Motte – a letter from one dear friend to another. Knowing her friend grieves the death of a loved one, Mother Theodore offers these words of comfort. “Does it not seem to you, Madame, that you are only separated from these dear friends by a curtain, the corner of which is sometimes raised to let you glimpse their happiness?”

Sister Maria, Bishop Martin, Father Kundek, Madame Le Fer de la Motte … it seems Mother Theodore sometimes raises the curtain to let us glimpse the strengths and struggles of her friends, persons very much like ourselves.

The Rembrandts – I’ll be there for you

Your turn

I love Mother Theodore’s image of being separated from dear loved ones “by a curtain, the corner of which is sometimes raised to let you glimpse their happiness.” I have experienced those “glimpses.”  It’s a good idea for me to spend some time remembering and feeling the comfort of those moments.  What’s been your experience(s) of comfort after the death of a loved one?

Mother Theodore has such a great way of conveying her thoughts. What are some of your favorites? Find her quotes here.

Diana Ross – It’s My Turn

Next week > page 371 to page 380 mid-page. This is located in “Part VI: Later Letters (1846–1856)” starting with “To Mme. Choisnet [Le Fer de la Motte], St. Servan.”

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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  1. Avatar connie schansp on July 17, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    My mind immedietly went to my Mom, when I thought about the thin veil of death. I have experienced her prescence many times, but not as profound as the day of her furneral.
    I had promised my than two year old grandson, I would let him run through the hose in our back yard to cool off, when we returned from the cemetary. As he ran through the hose, in his diaper it got heavier with water and was saggy around his little legs,. It finally fell off and he took off lickity split around the yard in all his glory, laughing and giggling. I thought of Mom and the things that kept her body bound here on earth over these last years. Now, she too was experiening the euphoria of being free and with God. with tears and a full heart,I was at peace.

  2. Avatar S. Denise Wilkinson on July 17, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    Dear Editor,

    When I listened to the blog I smiled and laughed. Delightful. I also learned who the Rembrandts are. That’s beside the point.

    Before and after Mother Theodore’s canonization, we often used the phrase “a woman for all times.” The addition of appropriate and (sort of contemporary) songs gives a new perspective to MTG’s timelessness. Thanks, Mary. SD

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