Journals and Letters week 49: The death of an angel
This week’s post happens to fall on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a tragic day in our country. How painful it is to lose someone from your life. Whether it is death or some other type of separation, when someone you are close to departs it is very difficult.
Void in the Community
Last week, we saw Mother Theodore as the disciplinarian. This week, she is the messenger of some sorrowful news as she writes about the death of her dear friend and confidante, Sister St. Francis Xavier Le Fer. “You do not expect me, my dear daughters, to write a eulogy of her whom we have so many reasons to regret, of her whose absence leaves such a void in the Community.”
Mother Theodore bares her heart in these beautiful letters and it was a privilege to read them. Her writing is a window to her deep love for this remarkable woman. This death is hard for Mother Theodore. Even though she has already suffered much loss, losing Sister St. Francis seems even more painful. “But Thou knowest that the deep wound it has made in my heart will be healed only when I shall be reunited to her in that heaven which she beheld so beautiful in dying.”
An angelic beauty
It was the beauty of her spirit which made her such a woman to be admired, but Sister St. Francis Xavier also had a physical beauty. Mother Theodore wrote about it. “And she was beautiful — with an angelic beauty. She belonged no longer to this earth; it was unworthy of her.”
I’ve always been struck by Sister St. Francis’ beauty and felt validated when I read that it had not escaped the eye of Mother Theodore. “Not only have we unanimously considered her the saint of our Congregation, but persons of the world, even those of a different faith, could not behold her angelic exterior without being led to the thought of God.”
The legacy continues
Reading what Mother Theodore wrote about her friend really touched me. Her love is apparent and it was comforting to me to read her words. The legacy of her beautiful eulogy of Sister St. Francis Xavier is carried on by the current Sisters of Providence. Whenever the Community suffers a loss they take the time to write about the life of each sister and make sure to tell her story. Often, they are filled with personal stories that are even sometimes humorous. If you have time to read a few more you can find them here.
How do you personally relate to Mother Theodore’s loss? What has been your response when you have lost a loved one through death or another type of separation?
What, if anything, gave you comfort when reading these letters?
Next week: lower page 429 to page 432
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