Thirty years ago today, I received a well-timed letter. Our Provincial wanted me to know, on the feast of St Philippine Duchesne, that I had been accepted as a candidate for the Society of the Sacred Heart. Philippine - that whole-hearted, brave and pioneering woman of passion and prayer, who had waited years to achieve her dream of taking the Society to new worlds - was going to accompany me in my own waiting to enter... though, somewhat blessedly, my own 'wait' only lasted a couple of months!
I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, but it was remarkable that, only a year before, I had never even heard of Philippine, whilst the Society - of which I had heard - still only existed on the peripheries of my awareness. And here I was now, on the cusp of beginning my formation, and this new journey into the Heart of Love!
... the glorious Society to which I have the happiness to belong and which consecrates us entirely to the Heart of Jesus... When I meditate on the fact that I belong to our Society, my soul expands with joy, tears of gratitude flow, and I see only happiness in privations. Could God do more for me?
Tears aside, I can only echo the gratitude and the joy... Being an RSCJ, belonging to God, and journeying deep into his Heart, is a way of life which gives me life, which stretches and fulfils in equal measure, and frees me to love and grow in loving. It comes with many challenges, yes, and the daily, constant need for conversion and transformation; but it also gives deep, untold joy, and - true to Jesus's promise - yields an abundantly rich, indescribably varied hundredfold. Could God do more for me?
PS: I had started to write a blog for this feast bringing together today's saint with tomorrow's Gospel - the parable of the talents; but then I remembered I had written about this far more eloquently several years ago, in The one thing necessary.
PPS: Four young women, from India and Indonesia, began their novitiate today in the Philippines - please pray for them, and ask Philippine to bless them with something of her spirit. And may you all have a happy and inspiring feast, celebrating the memory and legacy of this extraordinary, God-given woman!