Seeing Saint Mother Theodore’s writings in new lights: A feast day reflection
As we mark the Feast of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, we face the reality that we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has kept many of us physically separated from the Sisters of Providence and our beloved Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods. But, of course, we are still united by our shared charism of Providence and by our devotion to Mother Theodore and her legacy.
Seeing in new lights
Mother Theodore’s writings took on a new life for me during the last year. The pandemic gave new meaning to her words, “… for you will see many things in new lights if you give the Holy Spirit free access to your minds and hearts.” I have experienced some difficult trials in my life, and I’ve often turned to “Mother Theodore’s Journals and Letters.” The arrival of the pandemic found me once again turning to her for guidance. I made a plan to read from Scripture and “Journals and Letters” each morning. I knew this would bring me some level of comfort, but I didn’t expect to experience anything groundbreaking. After all, I’ve read “Journals and Letters” multiple times over the last decade. But Providence always prevails.
One morning, I was praying with Mother Theodore’s letter of March 20, 1843, to the Sisters of Providence in Jasper, Indiana. It has always been one of my favorites, and it also contains a couple of her most often repeated quotes. I have read this letter at least 100 times in the last ten years. The letter has always been the same over the years … until now.
The pandemic shined a light on a sentence that I had overlooked: “I fully enter into all your difficulties; this is the same as telling you that I suffer with you. Need I tell you that I pray for you?” I’m not sure how I overlooked these words from Mother Theodore all these years, but, as I read them, I felt as though I was reading a letter addressed to me. In that moment of prayer, I experienced God’s Providence through Mother Theodore. Since that morning, I have pictured Mother Theodore still living among us as we endure this unrelenting pandemic.
Conversation with Mother Theodore
Many years ago, Sisters Paula Damiano, SP, and Jan Craven, SP, facilitated a spring retreat for the Providence Associates. We were given a random quote from Mother Theodore’s writings, and were asked to imagine a conversation between ourselves and Mother Theodore with her quote starting the dialogue. This proved to be a really moving experience for most, if not all, of the Providence Associates. It is one way of bringing her words into the present moment and into our lives. For me, her words took on a much deeper meaning when I pictured her writing to me instead of the sisters living at Jasper. Mother Theodore enters into all of our difficulties. She suffers with us and she prays for us. We can also look at that same sentence and know that Mother Theodore enters into all of our happiness. She rejoices with us and she prays for us.
As we celebrate the Feast of Saint Mother Theodore, I encourage you to take a moment to ask yourself what Mother Theodore is saying to you. What is she saying to all of us as a Providence Community? You may like to try some dialogue journaling with your favorite Mother Theodore quote or one from the daily calendar. Your question in response to the quote could be something as simple as “What are you saying to me with this quote?” Have a conversation with Mother Theodore as a way to celebrate her feast day. I’m sure she would love to hear from you.
To all who share the charism of Providence, Happy Feast!