Yesterday we had a lifelong learning day for RSCJ in England and Wales on transition and transformation. We looked at the many transitions in our lives, be they major, minor, traumatic, positive, difficult, joyful or low-key, and their effects on us and our inner life. Some sisters shared about the transformative power of the transitions they had experienced; of being opened up to new depths, of insights, graces and growth, often in the midst of struggle and letting-go, often only recognised in hindsight.
We ended the day with a Mass for today's feast of St Madeleine Sophie Barat, our founder, whose feast is today. And I found myself reflecting on the many transitions in her life, without which the Society would never have existed and none of us would have been gathered together in this room.
The first transition alone must have been terrifying, requiring great courage and faith. Aged 16 she left her home in a small backwater town, life with her parents and everything that was safe and familiar, to live a precarious life in post-Revolutionary Paris with her over-zealous brother. Within a few years came the transition to being part of a fledgling religious community, and then, soon after, the transition from being the youngest, shyest member of this community to being its superior.
Fundamental to this was the slow, at times painful transformation in which she eventually rid herself of the last vestiges of Jansenism and began to believe fully and at depth in the tender, limitless love of God for her and all humanity; a love made visible in Jesus and flowing from his Open Heart. The fruits of this journey of transformation, verbalised in countless letters and conferences and in our early Constitutions, has surely been her greatest gift to us, bequeathing an unshakable belief in a God who is Love, and a mission to make that love known; to proclaim that love with our lives.
Today, as we celebrate Sophie's life and legacy, is a good day to give thanks for her journey of inner transformation, her journey into Love. And it's a good day, too, to commend to her prayers our own journeys of transformation, so that we too can become people who fully, deeply are transformed by, believe in and proclaim God's love.
Happy feast everyone!