Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

St. Margaret of Antioch

Not much is known about the this holy and noble woman of Antioch but let us examine what led this woman to become a great Saint of the Catholic Church.

Legend tells us that Margaret was born in Antioch in the early centuries. Her parents were pagans which was not unusual for those times. As was normal in that particular era many mothers preferred a wet nurse to feed their offspring as they went about their social lives and concentrated on their wifely duties to their husbands. In the case of Margaret her wet-nurse also happened to be a Christian, so one can imagine the stories that this servant would have conveyed to Margaret as she grew in age and understood the words that were spoken.

Christianity in the early centuries were regarded as suspicious by many groups who felt threatened by it's merciful message of love. In these early centuries there was not a very high moral code as people behaved just as they wished with no repercussions and worshipped whatever 'god' was popular at that time. So it is very unusual that a child of pagans parents would embrace the Christian faith.

From what we know Margaret seemed to be not so much head strong as very decisive in what she believed and from this belief in God and the Christian faith she would not be moved. The stories that her wet nurse had told her gained ground and then flourished within the soul of this most astounding young lady who then grew up a believer in the one true God and not the pagans 'gods' of her parents. This would also set Margaret on the path of martyrdom.

Considering the times she lived in where sanitary conditions would have been abysmal by today's standards, Margaret must have grown to be a beautiful woman and very pleasing to the eye. Soon offers of marriage would come for the hand of this lovely woman of Antioch. This would be the beginning of Margaret's problems.

It was here that Margaret caught the attention of Olybrius who wanted her to be either his wife or mistress, Margaret of course held strong to her faith declined his offer as graciously as she could. Unfortunately for Margaret Olybrius took her rejection personally and set out on a vindictive path to make her pay for his feelings of humiliation.

During this time Margaret was also the recipient of visions and also visits from the evil one who tried to tempt her to fall away from her faith but Margaret being the strong woman that she was fought off these attacks by the evil one. Olybrius meanwhile had not forgotten his rejection and through sheer malice he reported her to the authorities as being a Christian. Margaret was arrested.

During this time there was a despotic leader named Diocletian who ruled from about the year A.D. 303 during his reign he began a persecution of Christians like so many other evil leaders of that time. It is not known for sure, but there is speculation that it was under the rule of Diocletian that Margaret was arrested.

There were many attempts to kill Margaret by both fire and water she was able to survive which amazed all those who were able to watch this incredible woman's courage in the face of this torture. Through her bravery, many people believed the witness of Margaret and in turn they also embraced the Christian religion.

Finally the authorities had had enough of this troublesome woman and Margaret was beheaded. According to legend her body was then taken and buried by a women of noble birth.

It is also worth mentioning that it is this Margaret who was one of the 'voices' named by Joan of Arc who gave her messages which helped France regain its freedom from the English hordes.

Saint Margaret was martyred in the year c. 304.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Saints of the Faith: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Elizabeth was born a Catholic at heart if not at birth. Her entire soul was consumed from an early age with a love of Jesus and a longing to live out the Gospel message in her own life.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in the year 1774 in the city of New York, a place known for its shanty towns and roughened people many of whom had escaped impoverished conditions in their own place of birth and fled to America in order to begin again. It was also a time of tumult as revolution was whispered in quiet corners and anger gathered speed among American patriots at the hardheadedness of the English Government and its attempted subjugation of the America's.

Though for Elizabeth Ann the political maelstrom had not yet touched her personally, what did affect her life was the death of her beloved mother when Elizabeth Ann was only 3 years old. The heartache that Elizabeth Ann felt was not assuaged when her father remarried to a woman who had no affection for Elizabeth and her siblings.

Elizabeth Ann was fortunate in that her father was a well learned man who passed on his intellectual abilities to all his children. Elizabeth grasped the opportunity to open her mind and strengthen her learning capabilities as she grew more and more curious about the world around her. This would also help Elizabeth Ann cope as her father and step mother were having marital difficulties, as she threw herself into intellectual pursuits rather than fall prey to depression.

It was also during this time that Elizabeth became more reflective as she searched for the meaning of life and the purpose for which she had been born. Elizabeth's Ann prayer life became as important to her as was her studies, as she gained spiritual comfort in her constant prayer life. Elizabeth Ann like many others struggled to understand the vicissitudes of life as she grew strength from her natural surroundings her love of poetry which seemed to reflect her own inner searching and her love of music which lightened her heart. Rather than follow the path of many of her women contemporaries who also contemplated the meaningfulness of life Elizabeth did not go down the path of what many medical practitioners were giving their female patients and that was the dreaded Laudanum.

Finally in 1794 Elizabeth married William Magee Seton who like herself was an Episcopalian, the early years of the marriage were happy ones as Elizabeth gave birth to their five children. As Elizabeth wrote in her journal of her feelings for her husband, "It seemed that I loved him more than anyone could love on earth." Elizabeth's happiness seemed complete as both she and her husband lived devout lives within their Church community.

This happiness though would be interrupted upon the death of Williams father and the burden of caring for his siblings fell on Williams and Elizabeth Ann's shoulders as they struggled to keep the family business afloat. The inner strength that Elizabeth Ann had gone through when she was young now came to fruition as she helped her husband struggle to maintain his financial position whilst caring for his enlarged family. The burden though of being responsible for his entire family soon grew to heavy to bear and William became ill, in order to recuperate both William and Elizabeth set sail for Italy where they would stay with friends.

Though Elizabeth Ann had hoped that Italy would improve her husbands health the opposite occurred and William Seton died in Italy in 1803 this was a terrible blow to Elizabeth Ann as her heart was torn asunder at the loss of her beloved husband. Elizabeth Ann decided to spend time in Italy as she grieved the loss of her beloved William her faith became central to her spiritual wellbeing. Elizabeth stayed with her friends the Filicchi family who were devout Catholics, Elizabeth Ann whose own heart was in disarray soon gained comfort from the Faith shown by the Filicchi family and felt herself drawn to the deep spirituality and the comforting Traditions of the Catholic Church. What truly touched Elizabeth Ann's heart was the belief that Jesus was truly Present in the Eucharist and so this would set Elizabeth Ann on a journey from which she had no wish to return.

Upon returning to her native America Elizabeth Ann was confronted by her families opposition towards her ever deepening love towards the Catholic Faith and Elizabeth Ann from the depths of her heart poured forth these words in her journal, "If I am right Thy grace impart still in the right to say. If I am wrong Oh, teach my heart to find the better way." Through her continuing friendship with the Filicchi family Elizabeth Ann kept up a correspondence with Bishop's Cheverus and Carroll. The gathering storm in Elizabeth Ann's heart could not be quelled not even by her family nor her friends opposition and Elizabeth Ann embraced the Catholic Faith on Ash Wednesday in 1805.

As she embraced and lived with great joy the Catholic Faith Elizabeth Ann also had great difficulties placed in her path as many of her family and friends grew suspicious of the depth of love that Elizabeth Ann displayed to all about the Catholic Church. Many distrusted her influence upon their children and so though Elizabeth Ann attempted to start one school after another worried parents removed their children from Elizabeth Ann's influence. They could see that through this vibrant woman who emanated such joy and a deep feeling of empathy towards all she met that Elizabeth Ann's own personality would soon draw their children away from their Protestant backgrounds, as always fear shows a lack of trust in God's Divine Love.

Through all these trials Elizabeth Ann a most sensible woman did not lose her hope or her love for the Church, she would soon be joined by two of her family members, her sister in laws Cecilia and Harriet who also converted into the Catholic Faith. Because of the fears of many of her friends Elizabeth Ann decided to leave for Baltimore Maryland and start a school there so as to help the poor children overcome their impoverished circumstances and so live fulfilled lives. At the heart of Elizabeth Ann was charity, not in a lady bountiful way but of a charity of spirit which puts into practice that which is spoken of in the Gospels. Elizabeth Ann simply wanted to give, give and give in a practical and common sense manner and to live out the Tenets of her Faith, there was nothing to fear in a woman who was so in love with God.

In the year 1809 Elizabeth Ann Seton made her Vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as she began her first school and from hence forth would be known as Mother Seton. Elizabeth Ann's own winning personality soon draw more people into her school and so began her Order based on the one began by St. Vincent de Paul, they would call themselves ' The Sisters of Charity'.

Elizabeth Ann's life was not an easy one with the death of her beloved mother, followed by the death of one of her sister's. Then came the turning point when her beloved William succumbed with tuberculosis and died while they were in Italy which led Elizabeth on the path towards Catholicism and Sainthood.

From her beginnings of a reflective young lady to one of a mature and loving woman her love of God was never in question, she truly did live her belief in a merciful and loving Redeemer and shared this love with all she met.

Elizabeth Ann Seton died in 1821.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized in 1975 by Pope Paul VI.

Some Quotes

"We must pray without ceasing, in every occurrence and employment of our lives - that prayer which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant communication with Him."

"The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is his will."

"We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty."

Friday, July 14, 2006

Saint Bonaventure-Doctor of The Church

Not much is known about the early life of Giovanni di Ritella, apart from the fact that he was born in the year 1221 in Italy. It is recorded that as a child he suffered from a mysterious ailment but upon praying to St. Francis of Assisi he was miraculously healed.

Perhaps it was this healing that drew the young Giovanni towards the lifestyle and the spirituality of the Franciscans. He joined the Roman Provence of the Franciscans it was around this time that he took the name Bonaventure he was then sent to study and finish his education in Paris. It was also in Paris that he forged a life long friendship with that great saint of the Church, Thomas Aquinas.

Bonaventure was a man of astute intelligence but also had within him that element of charisma that draws people towards himself not from a longing to be popular but because of the warmth he exuded to all he met. This goes towards explaining the title that Bonaventure became known by, that of the 'Seraphic Doctor' because of his kindly but also passionate personality.

You cannot live the Franciscan charism without having a passion for life, not the passion of lusts or pleasures but of an abundant love of all things that God has created and an appreciation that leads to a spirit of joyfulness mixed with earthiness. Bonaventure was certainly not a whimsical or dreamy person by nature, rather he strode the common ground of diplomacy with energetic ability to defend the beliefs of the Catholic Church without compromising his principles or core beliefs. He was assisted in combating many heresies alongside his good friend Thomas Aquinas who with humility and great patience repudiated those who were espousing a wrong doctrine.

Bonaventure didn't have to prove anything to anyone and he didn't he simply was himself to all he met, both friend and foe alike. Nothing would change this man who gained most of his insights from many hours of contemplating the Passion of Christ and from this he gleaned that knowledge is not what counts with God, what does count is love and love alone.

Is it any wonder that an at early age Bonaventure was to become Minister General of the Franciscan Order in the year 1257. These were to be exacting years for the Franciscan Order between those who wished to remain loyal to the original Rule, while other Friars wished for the more taxing parts of the Rule to be relaxed. This inner tension would be felt by many as the warring factions parried back and forth, it would take all of Bonaventure's strength and patience to once again restore the peace of his beloved brothers.

It is during this internal wrangle that Bonaventure truly became a man after Saint Francis own heart, as with delicacy and strength he was able to reach out to both sides and unite them in their singular love of their Order and the Church. From this dispute Bonaventure would become known as the 'Second Founder' of the Friars Minor.

This was also the catalyst from which Bonaventure constructed the Constitutions and began a teaching process so that all friars would be made aware of what it means to be a Franciscan and so spread their spirituality to all who would listen. It would also arm his fellow brothers against those who were taking liberties when it came to the fundamental foundation of the Franciscan spirituality laid down by St. Francis of Assisi himself! While some were espousing a more 'elitist' form of the Order, Bonaventure with his customary good will and common sense was able to negate their influence by teaching his Franciscan brothers to maintain their spiritual integrity rather than follow the whims of those who tried to dilute what St. Francis himself taught his followers.

What kept Bonaventure grounded from becoming too puffed up with his own accomplishments was his deep and innate spirit of humility and his devotion to Christ's Passion on the Cross, from which he never tired of contemplating. Bonaventure knew that life was short so one must do good now rather than later, he also grasped that in order to love God one must live with an undivided heart, rather than find out too late that they have strayed from the path of righteousness. Bonaventure taught that in order to speak love, one has to first live it only then can one transcend the limitations of their own incompleteness.

This brilliant man did not seek honours or glory for himself, in fact he ran from such acknowledgement but though he may have eluded one title, he could not run forever and so it was that Pope Gregory X proclaimed Bonaventure as Cardinal of Albano. Though internal divisions did interrupt the Order of the Friars Minor at times it was to Bonaventure that his fellow brothers turned to help them through this most difficult process.

Because of the difficulties which was causing much heartache within the Franciscan fold, Bonaventure began to write on the true meaning of what being a true Franciscan means but also what one must become in order to truly love God as he did. His writings were prolific as he attempted to bring peace and order back to his fellow brothers and also the wider Church. Bonaventure understood then if we exclude God from our thoughts then we have also excluded God from our hearts, for what brother can harbour bitterness towards another and still believe themselves to be lovers of God?

Bonaventure understood and tried to teach his fellow Friars that with God there is no disordered love it is man himself who distorts the Beatific vision with his own pride and longing to have their own way. In order to be fully whole to each other and to be community for each other one must first look to the Crucified Christ and understand the cost it took for one human soul, this is what Bonaventure sought to teach his fellow brothers and the wider Church through his writings. He succeeded.

It was during the last few months that Bonaventure working closely with the Pope in preparation for next Ecumenical council, died suddenly from an unknown illness.

Bonaventure died in the year 1274.

Saint Bonaventure was canonized in the year 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV.

Some Quotes

"The outcome or the fruit of reading Holy Scripture is by no means negligible: it is the fullness of eternal happiness. For these are the books which tell us of eternal life, which were written not only that we might believe but also that we might have everlasting life. When we do live that life we shall understand fully, we shall love completely, and our desires will be totally satisfied. Then, with all our needs fulfilled we shall truly know the love that surpasses all understanding and so be filled with the fullness of God."

"When we pray, the voice of the heart must be heard more than that proceeding from the mouth."

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Saint Benedict of Nursia

Saint Benedict has become well renowned as the father of the Monastic Rule, even though the spirit of monasticism began in the middle east many years before. Still once the monastic spirit reached Europe most Religious Orders in their infant years began their Charism under the guidance of the Benedictine Rule.

Not much is known about Benedicts early years but many sources site Nursia as the birth place of this great man of the Church. He was born approximately 480 and many believe that his parents may have been financially secure in that Benedict was able to read and would later attend school, which was unusual for the peasantry of that time. Legend also has it that Benedict was the brother to his equally holy twin sister, Scholastica.

When he was sent to Rome for his education the young Benedict was quickly dismayed to see that his fellow men and women were behaving in a promiscuous fashion. Even from a young age Benedict had an ascetic spirit and was loathe to join in on the ribald and sinful lifestyle of his fellow students.

Finally the young Benedict could stand no more of this promiscuous lifestyle and so left for a place of silent repose where he would be able to study with no worldly distractions. Along with an elderly servant Benedict live for a while in the Sabine Mountains, it was here that one of Benedict first miracles was observed when his servant accidentally broke a bowl and Benedict by merely touching it the bowl was restored as if it had not been broken at all. This miracle also brought Benedict much unwanted attention once news of this incident was heard by others.

Benedict once more decided to travel in order to have complete solitude this time unaccompanied by any servants. He traveled to a place called Subiaco it was here that he met up with a monk called Romanus and it was through conversations with this monk that Benedict revealed his dearest wish, to live his entire life as a hermit, dedicating his entire life to the contemplation of God.

Romanus after listening to Benedict decided to help him live his chosen lifestyle and so both men found a remote cave where Benedict would spend the next 3 to 4 years. The only nourishment that Benedict was able to eat was given to him by Romanus who took the left over's from the Monastic community he lived in. These left over's mainly consisted of bread and water, a very severe form of diet.

According to the writings of Pope Gregory a Priest who lived not far from Benedict was preparing himself a celebratory dinner on Easter Sunday when he suddenly heard this voice say to him, "Thou art preparing thyself a savoury dish while my servant Benedict is afflicted with hunger." When the priest heard these words he set out to find Benedict once he had both Benedict and the priest spoke for many hours about God and their faith. The priest was surprised by the wild appearance that Benedict presented as he was clothed in animals skins for warmth. From this priestly contact others came to know about the wild man living in the caves and many visited Benedict for spiritual guidance.

From the writings of Pope Gregory we read how Benedict this holy man of God also had to overcome temptations and the attacks forced upon him by the devil as Gregory described in his works on Benedict, . "On a certain day when he was alone the tempter presented himself. A small dark bird, commonly called a blackbird, began to fly around his face and came so near him that, if he had wished, he could have seized it with his hand. But on his making the sign of the cross, the bird flew away. Then followed a violent temptation of the flesh, such as he had never before experienced. The evil spirit brought before his imagination a woman whom he had formerly seen, and inflamed his heart with such vehement desire at the memory of her that he had very great difficulty in repressing it. He was almost overcome and thought of leaving his solitude. Suddenly, however, with the help of divine grace, he found the strength he needed." After much struggling the devil left Benedict in peace as he could win no battle with this man who was guided by God Himself.

It wasn't long before Benedict was approached by a religious community to become their Superior after the death of their Abbot. Benedict when first approached refused to take this position as he preferred his life of holy solitude, but the small community of monks prevailed and so Benedict tried to lead the monks into following God's Divine Will as he had throughout the years. Unfortunately after a while many of the monks began to rebel at this strictness of Benedicts Rule and some tried to poison Benedict in order to rid themselves of this holy man. This scheme did not work as before drinking the poisoned wine Benedict blessed it and upon making the blessing the poisoned wine glass smashed. Benedict was disappointed and chastised the small group of monks before taking his leave of them, and returning to his hermitage in Subiaco.

Benedict though was not to be alone for long as many more men who also longed for a more solitary way of serving God were drawn to this holy man and longed to copy his lifestyle. Benedict by now had a growing longing to begin a monastic life for those who wished to follow God with all their hearts. Through this came about the monastic life which would be followed by so many early Religious Orders. Benedict began making the Rules for his community of men and in order that those who joined would be faithful to the Charims of the Monastic movement Benedict kept overall charge and control of those who joined him in living the monastic principle.

Through a life balanced by mortifications and intense prayer, men were able to contemplate God from the purity of their hearts. Through this one man's vision of living and starting a monastic life we have the Traditions within the Church based on the thoughts and teachings of this holy man of God, who is Benedict.

Throughout his life, Benedict was also the recipient of many miracles and had the ability to read souls and thereby direct people to let go of the sins which were holding them back from serving God with all their hearts.

Though Benedict lived a life of uncompromising principles and stayed true to his own Rule, he truly brought many closer to God because of the example he gave of his own beatific vision of God.

Through his many mortifications this weakened Benedict's health and he died of fever.

Benedict of Nursia died in the year 547.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Saint Philomena-Early Church Martyr

Not much is known about this young girl who's tomb was found in the catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome. Unfortunately when her remains were found in 1802 by excavators there was no science which could shed light through DNA research about the approximate Era/year of her death.

What is known is that Philomena's tomb contained the body of a young girl of about 13 years of age alongside her remains was found a vial of dried blood. Written on her tomb were the words Lumena/ Paxte/ Cumfe when some experts translated the ambiguous writing they were able to make out the words Pax tecum Filumena which means 'Peace be with you Philomena'.

There were many years of persecution for the young Christian Church at a time when it was dangerous to be a Christian, yet so many of our early Christian martyrs remained loyal to their Faith unto the shedding of their blood. They did not seek to save their own lives at the cost of their beliefs but instead chose to remain firm in their and with great courage they chose to die for their faith rather than live a life of meaningless faithlessness.

One of these great persecutions was that of Nero who as legend says 'fiddled as Rome burned'. There have been many theories as to the origins of the fire some say that Nero himself instructed that a fire be started for his own sick entertainment while others say that the fire was accidentally started in a shop probably a bake house. Who started it is now for history to decide but the consequences were catastrophic for the small Christian community which were living peacefully in Rome.

After the city had been ravaged by fire the Roman citizens were looking for someone to blame and all eyes turned towards Nero who because of his apathy and indifference towards those who had suffered great loss went into damage control. It was Nero who pointed the finger at the Christian community by suggesting that it was them who began the fire. This enraged the Roman citizens who then began the great persecution of the early Christian community. As was reported in the writings of Tertullian, "Nero was the first to rage with Caesar's sword against this sect, "To suppress the rumor." Another writer, Tacitus who was not Christian wrote this concerning the persecution of the Christians by Nero, "Mockery of every sort accompanied their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.."There arose in the people a sense of pity. For it was felt that they (the Christians) were being sacrificed for one man's brutality rather than to the public interest." Emperor Nero was well known for his depravity towards anyone who displeased him, he would most probably be diagnosed as a psychopath by the physicians of today.

Whether the young Philomena was part of this most terrible persecution by Nero is unknown. What is known is that upon excavating her remains this young girl who had died a martyrs death was placed in the Vatican where she remained for many years.

Then in 1805 a priest who came upon her remains then requested if he could receive the relics of what seemed to be a great Saint of the Church, Don Francesco di Lucia was given this permission. He then enshrined her remains in his village church at Mugnano. It was here that many miracles would soon be attributed to this young martyr of early Rome.

When we examine the courage of the early Christians all must marvel at their great courage and also their tenacity and perseverance in the face of the most terrible tortures. We can only imagine the torture that would have been inflicted on this most holy and pure virgin martyr known as Philomena. In order for her to be remembered on her tomb it is obvious that Philomena came from a more wealthy background and that as she had lived so she died, beloved by those who knew her and had loved her.

Many people began to flock to this shrine of Philomena as many more miracles were attributed to this young saint and martyr, so much so that many were referring to her as 'Philomena, Powerful with God'. So it was that Pope Gregory XVI canonized this most beautiful young girl to Sainthood.

Upon her canonization many priests, nuns and even Popes grew in devotion to her saintly virtues and many more shrines were devoted to this young martyr of the early Church. Some of the better known admirers of Saint Philomena became Saints themselves! Such as St. John Vianney, St. Anthony Mary Claret and St. Madeleine Sophie Barat who I am sure could empathize completely with Philomena's torturous death. There were also many Popes who revered the life of Philomena some of them were Pope Leo XII, Pope Gregory XVI who gave Philomena the title 'Patroness of the Living Rosary, and Pope Pius IX who also proclaimed her as 'Patroness of the Children of Mary' and as the years passed many more Popes proclaimed their devotion to this young girl.

In this day and age of immodesty and narcissism we need to be reminded that such glorious Saints as Philomena once walked this same ground but the difference is they chose the higher path, let us hope to follow their example.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin

Anne Therese Guerin was born in the year 1798 in France. A Nation torn apart by the French Revolution where only a few years before the revolutionaries had be-headed the French King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.

France during these traumatic years were certainly in need of holy men and women and through the Grace of God, many great Saints were born during this era in time and to a country that needed them, blood drenched France.

Anne Therese was a very practical young girl who had the good luck to be educated by her uncle who was a seminarian. Perhaps it was here that Anne Therese first felt a calling to the Religious life as she learnt from her uncle and observed many Catholics who were suffering for their faith. This also instilled in Anne Therese a hardiness born through adversity as her parents struggled to provide a living for their family.

Unfortunately for the devout Guerin family Anne Therese's father died leaving the family destitute and their mother in despair as she struggled to provide a viable living in such difficult circumstances.

During those times it was not easy being Catholic in war ravaged France let alone to be Catholic and poor in a country that was propagating atheism and where killing catholics were the order of the day. As the enlightenment gained ground more and more people began questioning the Authority of the Catholic Church and many peoples faith began to waver in the face of such an onslaught.

This did not affect Anne Guerin who was solid in her beliefs and strong enough to withstand the insults that were being thrown at her beloved Church. Because of her fathers death Anne Therese postponed her longing to join a Religious community and instead focused on helping her poor mother who was an invalid and her sister to rise above their circumstances and to make a living in order to put food on the table and clothes on their back.

It was not until Anne Therese reached the age of 25 that she was finally able to obey her great longing to enter the Religious life. Where she joined the Sisters of Providence and took her first Vows a year later, she also took the name Sister Theodore. This very practical woman would prove herself to be a very able and gifted Nun when it came to mathematics she truly shone and shared this knowledge with her students. Though Sister Theodore worked hard her health at times would become delicate as she strived to give of her best to her community through teaching and assisting the poor in her area.

A new call would touch the heart of this most holy Sister when the Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana requested the help of the Sisters of Providence with the assistance of Bishop Celestin de la Hailandiere the Sisters took up the challenge and Mother Theodore with her fellow sisters set sail for the new frontier, America they arrived in the year 1840.

Upon arriving in Indiana conditions were harsh which was in stark contrast to the way of French living that this little band of sisters was used too, but nothing would deter Mother Theodore from her mission to reach out to young people and educate them so as to rise and make something of their lives. Within the first year of arrival Mother Theodore had opened a school for girls which would become known as The College of Our Lady of the Woods.

Though her health was fragile and Mother Theodore could only consume food that had been watered down this did not deter her from doing God's Will and serving Him by helping all the girls who came to them for assistance. Mother Theodore was also plagued with doubts about her own worthiness and ability to carry such an onerous duty, but she was able to put her feelings aside and focus on the work at hand. Rather than be overcome by her disabilities she overcame them through sheer hard work and a greatly developed prayer life from which she gained her inner strength.

Both Mother Theodore and her Sisters struggled gallantly and with steadfastness during what would be many American winters as they lived in their wood cabin which had become their home and their community. There would be many days and nights where Mother Theodore and her devoted sisters had little or no food, this did not stop the sisters from carrying forth their duties with love and compassion for all they met.

Through the courage that Mother Theodore always displayed despite her own doubts about her abilities her fellow Sisters would remain steadfast as they looked towards their Mother Superior who guided them with wise words and gentle humor. Though times were hard and misunderstandings occurred Mother Theodore always encouraged prayer most especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament and to simply go forwards without spending too much time on past regrets. Mother Theodore truly embodied the pioneer spirit that was so much needed for that tough land which was Indiana.

During her life Mother Theodore was able to open many more schools, and though she struggled with her health her spirit always remained completely in love with her Divine Spouse.

Mother Theodore Guerin died in the year 1856.

Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin was beatified in the year 1998 by Pope John Paul II.

Her Canonization is now pending in Rome.

Some Quotes

"What strength the soul draws from prayer! In the midst of a storm, how sweet is the calm it finds in the heart of Jesus."

"Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence."

"With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?"

"In all and everywhere may the will of God be done."

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.
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