A week ago I was jokingly asked what the collective noun for a group of Sacred Heart sisters might be. My immediate reply - to approving chuckles - was "a heartiness". I just knew we were not a "sacredness", but rather a heartiness - warm, vigorous, strong and heartfelt.
I posted this on Facebook, asking what suggestions others might have. There were a few from the USA: an internationality, a wholliness, an openness... So if nothing else, the exercise demonstrated the challenge of trying to find a single word which somehow sums up an international group of women who are wholly contemplative, wholly apostolic, centred on the open Heart; women who somehow manage to be each and all of these things simultaneously.
And she was all this in the face of constant setbacks, misunderstandings, insecurity, exhaustion and an increasingly acute sense of being a failure. Easy enough to be whole-hearted and passionate when the world pats you on the back, your projects flourish, and all your endeavours seem blessed; less so when the opposite happens, when just keeping going becomes a huge effort and you are convinced that you've failed. Hard, so hard, to remain wholly contemplative, wholly focussed on God - and yet so necessary. In such circumstances, to go on believing, praying, labouring, proclaiming the loving kindness of God, is nothing short of remarkable.
It's all too easy and comforting to focus on our deeds and successes, but as Philippine herself once wrote: God does not require great achievements, but a heart that holds back nothing for self. May she pray for us, that our hearts too may be open and generous, holding back nothing and giving, as she did, without counting the cost.
Happy feast everybody!