The Daughters of Charity celebrate the feast of St Louise de Marillac annually on the 15 March. They celebrate her life through prayer, through the celebration of the Eucharist, through deepening their relationship with her and summing it all up by enjoying a meal together. On occasion, they also celebrate with visitors who regularly visit their houses.
However, this year the feast fell on Sunday so the feast was postponed until the 16 March. All good liturgists are aware that Sunday takes precedence over feast days. And Sunday 15 March this year was the 4th Sunday of Lent. It was also Mother’s Day. Louise de Marillac was also a mother to Michel and she knew the trials and the joys of motherhood.
Interestingly enough the Gospel from St John for the day spoke of light and Jesus being the light of the world. Light and darkness were never far from St Louise’s thoughts and her life. In this context of light it is good to reflect on her Pentecost experience where she experienced an illumination in her life. In French it is called her Lumière- The Light of Pentecost. One may well ask what this was about. Well it was in the year of 1623, on the feast of St Monica that God gave Louise the grace to make a vow of widowhood ‘should he call my husband to Himself.’ Louise was happily married to Antoine Le Gras.At the feast of the Ascension, Louise was very disturbed because she experienced three doubts in her life:
• Louise doubted as to whether she would leave her husband ‘so she would have greater liberty to serve God and her neighbour’
• She doubted her ‘capacity to break the attachment with her director, which might prevent her from accepting another’ director
• She also experienced a doubt concerning ‘the immortality of the soul’
In her writings Louise states that she suffered ‘incredible anguish’ which ‘lasted from Ascension to Pentecost.
On the feast of Pentecost while Louise was at Mass, Louise’s ‘mind was instantly freed of all doubt.’ She was advised that;
• She ‘should remain with her husband and a time would come when she would be in a position to make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience’ and that she ‘would be in a small community where others would do the same’
• She was ‘assured that’ she ‘should remain at peace concerning her director’
• Her ‘third doubt was removed by the inner assurance’ that ‘it was God who was teaching her’ these things and ‘that believing there is a God’ she ‘should not doubt the rest.’
Louise ends by saying she always believed she received this grace from the Blessed Bishop of Geneva (St Frances de Sales).
On Sunday 15 March 2015 a group of young people came to Dunardagh for a time of reflection. They spent time pondering this aspect of the life of Louise de Marillac. This piece of writing offers great consolation since 1623 as there is an assurance that doubts in life are a certainty. However there is also the certainty that Jesus is always with us as he has promised us in Chapter 28 of Matthew’s Gospel to be with us always until the end of time. Louise also believed this great promise, though she also knew that she would follow the ‘royal road of the Cross’ in her life.’ In doing so she lived in the assurance that she was not alone.
The young people found great consolation in knowing that God is always there for them in their times of doubt. During the time of reflection the youth also prayed the Rosary and reflected on the need for conversion in their lives. Being the season of Lent they individually made Lenten crosses and prayed that they could carry their crosses in solidarity with Jesus.
They were led in prayer, Scripture,reflection and song by a young catechist called Alba. If you would like to know more about this group of youth that meet regularly contact us on the website www.daughtersofcharity.ie