Unsurprisingly, given the many hardships and setbacks of Philippine's life, and her bold, generous, faith-filled personality, the weekly reflections for the Philippine Duchesne Year of Prayer have invariably focused on one or more aspects of the many challenges, difficulties and disappointments she experienced, whether physical or spiritual. This week's - Darkness into Light - is no exception. As the closing paragraphs say:
Philippine Duchesne didn’t give up when she had to face difficulties or when she had to accept that her dreams were far from reality. She had the capacity to discover light in every darkness; she was able to find ways where there seemed to be no pathway. Going to the frontiers of her abilities, she didn’t give up when she failed but opened herself to new horizons.
Is this the nature of a person who thinks positively? More than that, it is the strength of somebody who lets herself be guided by the Lord. It is the strength and the power of a woman who follows God through every darkness, step by step, trusting that every tunnel leads into light. Not her own will and desire determined what to do, but the reality in which she discovered God’s call.
Truly, I thought - (though not for the first time), as I prayed with this - we are standing on the shoulders of a giant... And then I reminded myself that the shoulders belong to giants, very much in the plural. Over more than two centuries countless RSCJ have faced - in some places continue to face - physical and existential hardships and insecurity; in times of war, disaster or revolution, in exile and upheaval; in reaching new frontiers or simply maintaining a service or presence against many odds. Maybe in inner darkness, maybe in public obscurity, they have lived and loved, prayed and served, following God through every darkness, step by faith-filled step, trusting that every tunnel leads into light...
Their witness is inspiring, and probably they in turn have drawn inspiration from Philippine, and from a spirit which was unquenchable, even in times of fragility and the uncertainty of her every darkness. I am sure she will continue to inspire, long into the future: may she also sustain us all with her prayer, especially as we seek to bring the love of God's Heart into this world, currently so scarred, and filled with too much political and ecclesial darkness.