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Saint Mother Theodore: a humble servant of God

St. Augustine once said that the way to follow God’s steps for us is “first humility, second humility, third humility … if humility does not precede and accompany and follow every good work we do…pride will wrest from our hand any good deed we do.” And again, he advised, “Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence.”

Certainly, these themes guided Saint Mother Theodore throughout her life. One definition of humility is “not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.”  The Augustinian rule reflects that humility is a willingness to share the gifts you have been given not out of motivation for oneself but for the common good of all people while also knowing your human limitations, especially your own inclination towards pride which “can lurk even in good works” (The Rule I, 8). 

Responding to needs

Anne-Therese Guerin was willing to delay her entrance into religious life in order to accommodate the needs of her grieving mother after the violent death of her father. During those years she learned to manage a household, including the finances … not common for young women in her day. She aspired to become a Carmelite nun. But seeing the needs of the French people after the Revolution, she decided to join a new congregation that was focused on education and the care of the poor, the Sisters of Providence in Ruille. She planned to remain there ten years before moving on to the Carmelites. 

Sister St. Theodore, her given name as a Sister of Providence, accepted with humility her assignments. Even so when they were difficult, providentially acquiring new knowledge along the way that would benefit her in God’s plans for her future. Her reassignment from a successful mission in Rennes to the impoverished village of Soulaines, France, allowed her to learn basic healing skills through the use of herbs, invaluable in her as-then unknown future mission to America.

Providence Associates and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College alums, including blog post author Marilyn Rausch at right, pose with flat Saint Mother Theodore.

Seeing her own poor health as an obstacle, Sister St. Theodore did not volunteer for the new mission to America when the opportunity arose. But her unwavering humility and dependence on the Providence of God would not let her refuse the insistence of her superiors that she lead the band across the ocean and into the wilderness of Indiana. No advanced planning could have prepared her for what she would find and have to endure there. It was that same humility and dependence on Providence that hallmarked every step of her way.

Humility quotes from Saint Mother Theodore

 In her own words…

“Pray, be humble, be charitable, and God’s blessing will be with you.”

“Humble yourself—that is very good—but do not yield to discouragement.”

“If at any day we accomplish some good here, the glory will certainly be [God’s] alone.”

“My duty has been simply that of the ass who bore the prophet.”

“We are not called upon to do all the good that is possible, but only that which we can do.”

“Be humble, like your Mother [Mary], devoted like her to the interests of God and your neighbor…”

“You know…that the good God always makes use of nothing in order to accomplish something.”

“Yes, God truly makes us of the least likely instruments to procure [God’s] glory.”

“Particularly I admire two virtues rare in our days:  a profound humility and immense charity.”

“After all, our only support, our only strength is God.”

“The greatest in heaven is the one who on Earth has been the servant of all.”

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Marilyn Rausch

Marilyn Rausch, a Providence Associate since 2014, has been associated with the Sisters of Providence most of her life. She was educated by the sisters for 16 years and a member of the Congregation for nine. A retired family practice physician, Marilyn lives with her husband Mike in Indianapolis, Indiana. She spends her time with her five grandchildren, serving in various positions in her parish, and camping with a family camping organization (Family Campers and RVers).

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6 Comments

  1. Connie SP on October 21, 2022 at 9:23 am

    So beautifully written Marilyn and your words are so inspirational too. Thanks for this lovely reflection.

  2. Paula Modaff, SP on October 21, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Your reflection demonstrates how you have absorbed Theodore’s spirit into your life, Marilyn. You inspire me to do more of the same. Thank you!

  3. Diane Estringel on October 21, 2022 at 10:35 am

    Beautiful reflection. Thank you Marilyn

  4. Mary Carroll Blocher on October 21, 2022 at 11:23 am

    Beautifully written, Marilyn. Thanks for the picture. It made me feel close to my circle friends.

  5. Marsha Speth on October 22, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    Lovely and so true!

  6. Joni Luna on October 24, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! I love your reflection I know you and Mother Theodore are BFF’s.
    Thank you for sharing!

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