Year of Prayer - August 6

  • Year of Prayer - August 6
  • Year of Prayer - August 6

Grain of Wheat Fallen into the Earth ...

Philippine had only opened up the furrow, and with what difficulties, sown the seed ... But one day the Sacred Heart would return and harvest it ... . Her role was to open up the way through the brambles. She is God’s pioneer (Msgr. Baunard).

Philippine’s way was one of hiddenness. She landed in Louisiana, driven by the intuition of proclaiming Love to the ends of the earth, and at the age of 49, she began a patient journey of sowing. She went forward in a discerning way, through requests and offers received, in a courageous dialogue with men of the Church who were given to her as companions, and with feminine intuition. In spite of the abundant fruits and rapid growth of the mission, she seemed to see only its hidden and suffering face. She carried the cross with Jesus, while the Resurrection was already at work around her.

Our land today is rocky through its rejection of God and a culture of indifference but also fertilised by the thirst of humanity and the desire for ecological change. What furrow should we open up? What seed should we sow? Would the acceptance of fragility, modest and tentative participation in the searching of today’s citizens, be crosses to be carried with Jesus, ways of burial necessary for a harvest that we shall not see with our own eyes?

Marie-Paule Préat, RSCJ, Province of Belgium – France - Netherlands
Image: Microsoft clipart

Year of Prayer - July 30

Year of Prayer - July 30


A Prayer to Philippine

Full of courage in the face of suffering and misunderstandings,
obtain moral strength for us.
Humble, zealous, and unpossessive in friendship,
teach us to love with the Heart of Jesus Christ.
Tireless in the struggle for the Reign of Christ,
communicate your eagerness to us.
Living lesson on prayer, help us to live our spirituality
of incarnation and paschal mystery.
Inspirer of missionary love towards the poorest,
obtain for us zeal for the Kingdom.
Patient in awaiting the Lord’s time, teach us hope.
Persevering in the engagement of causes for the indigenous,
open our heart to all our sisters and brothers.
Inimitable adorer of the Eucharistic Jesus, communicate to us
your desire for a total gift of ourselves.
Our herald to the Southern Hemisphere, obtain for us the grace
of a genuine option for the poor.
Example of poverty and total emptying of self,
teach us forgetfulness of self.
Saint Philippine, pray for us to the Heart of Jesus,
the one to whom you gave your life without reserve.

Maria Cecilia Amarante, RSCJ
Image: Catherine Blood, RSCJ

Year of Prayer - July 16

Year of Prayer - July 16


Philippine Duchesne in Ormoc

In 1991, about 8,000 lives were lost in flash floods in Ormoc, Philippines due to the deforestation of the mountains and the wanton destruction of the environment. Religious of the Sacred Heart felt the need to respond to this terrible tragedy, and I was sent to help in the rehabilitation of the families that had lost their shelters and their loved ones, most of whom were exploited workers in a sugar cane plantation. From the beginning, Philippine Duchesne served as my silent guide and provider, for I felt that this mission frontier would be close to her heart.

Sacred Heart provinces around the world had spontaneously sent financial help, so we were able to acquire a one-hectare property and subdivide it among the families. For the first time in their lives, they could settle down in homes they could call their own. They continued to live simple and laborious lives, but they found hope for their daily needs in the words of Philippine: "God knows our need. He knows what we want and in His own time He will grant it."

A community gradually was organized with childhood education as its center. Here the children could receive the love and care of Philippine transmitted to them. Through their new life together, the whole community experienced a taste of the reign of God through peace and stability and a brighter future for their children.

After 26 years in Ormoc, the RSCJ are handing over the administration of the St. Philippine Duchesne Ormoc Workers Foundation Incorporated (SPDOWFI), assured that the people have been empowered and that Philippine’s mission will continue. As I leave, Philippine’s words are etched in my heart: "We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self ... The one who has Jesus has everything."

Iraida Sua-an, RSCJ, District of the Philippines
Image: St. Rose Philippine Producers’ Cooperative Logo depicting the community sailing on with Philippine to new frontiers

Year of Prayer - July 23

Year of Prayer - July 23


Philippine, woman of yesterday ... woman for today

When I think of Rose Philippine Duchesne as a person – with her courage and commitment, her need to go to the peripheries and her contemplative being – I am connected immediately to where we are today. She speaks as a woman of yesterday but with a deep, clear, solid perception which the world of today so needs.

Philippine could go step-by-step in fidelity to the Lord, a woman of profound hope in tumultuous and difficult times. She had hope, trust and fidelity for an unfolding future.

And it is that patient step-by-step approach that our world so needs. In times where immediacy, consumerism and superficiality race together, we too are sometimes caught up in this race and unwittingly lose our very essence, our deepest identity, our freedom. There is no time for silence; there is no time for encounter. There is time for doing but not for being in the doing.

She knew how to be and manifested the love of the Heart of Jesus wherever she was. A woman of deep availability, she knew how to put herself aside so as to bring Jesus to the poor of the Kingdom.

Today, our times too are tumultuous and difficult, though in a different way. We live in a moment of history where there is more and more oppression, violence, inequality and injustice, where there are more and more barriers. We live in a moment when Mother Earth cries out along with our brothers and sisters. This is a moment needing calculated risk-taking, generous availability, a loving look towards the margins. It is there that we find the Potawatomies of today. It is there that He awaits us – and they too await us.

Philippine, woman of yesterday, who speaks so much to us, today, tells us that fidelity to God is the most important. It is that which brings us to the most fragile. It is that which enables us to overcome obstacles and incomprehension. It is that fidelity which empowers us to be loving as she loved and to live, out of love, in union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus.

When one lives like this, one can transcend everything, and we are capable of communicating in a different way, as she did.

Isabel Rocha, RSCJ, Province of Argentina – Uruguay

Year of Prayer - July 9

Year of Prayer - July 9

"A Remarkable Woman …"

Arriving in St. Charles, for a visit in 2001, I wandered into a gift shop in the town and was approached by an assistant. With pride she said, “There was a remarkable woman who lived here in the early days and now she is a saint.” Then, noticing my medallion, she said, “Oh, you’ll know all about her!”

Having led morning assembly on Philippine on at least twenty occasions and celebrated, in 1988, with staff and pupils her canonisation, I did have plenty of knowledge about Philippine Duchesne. What I was to experience in the next three days was her spirit, as the RSCJ community shared the places and events of her life.

Philippine died in St. Charles in 1852, and yet, nearly 150 years later, there were signs of her all around: an information board about her on the river bank; the sign, shown above, indicating the site of Philippine’s first school; signposts to the Sacred Heart Academy and her shrine.

While schools, communities, and a noviciate flourished elsewhere, Philippine’s time at St. Charles was not a "success." The free school, housed in a rough log cabin, 1818-19, had to close; and when RSCJ were brought back by Jesuits after ten years, Philippine had to leave it to others to re-establish it.

When she moved to St. Charles, after her year with the Potawatomi, having been too old to learn their language, Philippine felt a failure and was in poor health. She spent her last ten years, mending clothes, making vestments and praying. The people knew and loved her as a simple, humble woman who "prays always," and today they still call her "a remarkable woman!"

Anne McCarthy, RSCJ, Province of England- Wales
Image: Linda Behrens

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