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.)
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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