A mission on this earth

Today is a kind of semi-feast in the Society, as it's the day on which our founder, St Madeleine Sophie Barat was born in France in 1779. She shouldn't have been born this day, or even this month or year, as she was two months premature. Yet despite being born at a time when infant mortality was high, even for full-term babies, she somehow not only survived this difficult start to her life,  but, despite various illnesses, went on to live for eighty-five more years - quite an achievement for a woman of her era!

I've been wondering whether all this gave Sophie a strong sense of her own mission; a sense that God was preserving and keeping her on earth for a reason. If so, that personal mission could only be at the service of the mission of the Society she founded. And what is our mission? We know it is to discover, through reflection and contemplation, the love of God in the Heart of Jesus, and to make it known, through our lives given in love. We know it is to educate, to work for growth, communion and justice. But Sophie added an extra dimension, when she wrote that This name, Religious of the Sacred Heart, is itself a mission.

To be 'of the Sacred Heart' is indeed a mission: it is a joy, a challenge and a privilege; given to us not just for ourselves, but for others, for the good of the world.

Thinking about all this I was reminded of some words in Evangelii Gaudium: words which speak to and challenge me each time I read them, and which Sophie would undoubtedly echo, wanting all of us - especially those of us who are 'of the Heart' - to make them our own.

My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an "extra" or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world.

We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing. 
(EG, 273)

This weekend European RSCJ in first vows are at a meeting whose theme is mission. May Sophie's prayers help them and each of us to know ourselves as a mission on this earth, sealed and branded with the love of God, to be freely given and shared with all those we encounter.