We were driving through the French countryside as Sr Mary Campion told us about the caring quality of Madame d’Houët. This was not news to us since we know that as a landowner, mentor, founderess and caregiver, she was a woman who looked after and cared for the many in her charge.
What did occur to me however was that in the midst of hard work and discipline, Marie Madeleine ensured and encouraged that those in her care took Sundays off to picnic, play games and simply enjoy each other’s company. Her love for dancing as well as playing with the many children in her domain taught me that life for this woman, was ultimately for living and for celebrating, echoing the gratuitous joy expressed in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my understanding, my memory and my will. You have given all to me, and I return them. Give me only your love and your grace, for that is enough for me.
How have you celebrated today?
I know that for two of our FCJs in Melbourne, they celebrated their own birthdays with their sisters gathered around them with cream sponge cake.
For other companions, glasses were raised in memory of Marie Madeleine.
As for me, although I had a very sombre and much-needed day of rest, I now have champagne to sip on as I wind down for the evening with my husband and children.
Thank you, chère Marie Madeleine, for reminding me that life is for living and for celebrating, no matter how unceremoniously. That we take time to to pause and reflect and ponder the gifts given to us in this world is grace enough, don’t you think? What are your thoughts?