April 5th marks the anniversary of the death of Marie Madeleine d’Houët. In life, as in death, Marie Madeleine’s gaze was always on Christ.
Imagine a room that’s not too large and not too small, simply furnished with homely touches: a bed, a small armchair and perhaps little table and a crucifix. Inside this room gather an intimate group of sisters, united by their love and devotion for one of their own who is dying. Despite the sombre occasion, a spirit of faith and hope moves among them as “the prayers of those around her hummed a hymn of homecoming.”
One of the senior sisters, Mother Julie Guillemet kneels by the bed and recites a prayer invoking the intercession of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which their beloved sister, Mère Marie Madeleine follows:
Julie could tell that the dying woman was following the prayers and repeated the last invocation three times before pronouncing again the holy name of Jesus. As she did so, those in the room saw Madame d’Houët’s face illumined for a moment, before she went to meet her Lord.
This was the way in which Marie Madeleine died, 5 April 1858.
The way in which Marie Madeleine lived also put Christ before everything else. Many of the accounts and sayings written about her and by her attest to this. So in remembrance of Marie Madeleine on 5 April, I invite you to look at the FCJ cross – the outer sign worn by all Faithful Companions of Jesus – and reflect on all that it symbolises.
Recently I gained deeper insight into the importance of the FCJ cross’ symbology. The interlocking design of the ‘F’, ‘C’ and ‘J’ have their particular function. Central to the FCJ spirit is ‘C’, companionship. All letters sit inside the cross, as Marie Madeleine saw to be her duty: to be like the holy women of the gospel at the foot of the cross. But of interest is the placing of ‘J’, Jesus, which lies in front of everything, at the fore, so expressive of how Marie Madeleine lived, died and left to her sisters and to the Church.
For those who are FCJ sisters among us, perhaps you can sit with your cross for a few minutes in recollection of your own calling to be a faithful companion. In all that you do, ask yourself: is Jesus at the fore? Does Jesus come first? For those who are not FCJs, you can sit with the image or with another cross or holy picture and ask yourselves the same questions: does Jesus come first in my life? How can I make space for Him who is our Eternal Companion? And how do I wear this throughout my life? When people see me on the street, or at the shops or at the bank, in my daily encounters with others, how am I for Jesus?
A gentle reminder that Marie Madeleine was pronounced Venerable in 1916 by Pope Benedict XV. Those who have met her already know her sanctity. But for beatification and canonisation, for her to be officially recognised in the Church as a saint, miracles by her intercession are needed. So we pray:
God, our Creator
Jesus, our Companion
Holy Spirit, Source of Wisdom
believed in your power,
hoped in your promises
and lived for your
glory and service.
We ask her to pray with us for [n. …]
Through her prayer may your healing presence
be shown and your name glorified.
We make our prayer in the name of Jesus the Christ.
Please refer to the Society web site for more information on notifications of favours received through the intercession of Marie Madeleine d’Houët.
 A. Rennie, Grit and Grace (Richmond: Faithful Companions of Jesus, 2013) p.39.
 Mary Campion McCarren fcJ, Faithful Companion of Jesus: Marie Madeleine d’Houët (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1981) p. 42.