Philippine Duchesne had what I like to call a Global Heart. Because of this, I find Philippine to be a particularly inviting model for our 21st century world.
A global heart is simple enough to understand: it is a heart that has moved from lingering lovingly in an ego-centric place, through a group-centric place (my tribe, my race, my social group, etc.), to a world-centric place. A global heart has shifted the focus of interest and compassion from “me” to “us” to “all of us”! This development describes an emergence of consciousness and compassion into ever-expanding circles of whom is defined as “one’s neighbor” or into ever-expanding circles of people with whom one is capable of truly empathizing. A global heart has an inclusive, wide tent and a porous boundary!
Philippine Duchesne was constantly expanding the borders and boundaries of her heart. As a child she yearned to reach out to the poor of Grenoble, as an adolescent and young nun she dreamed of working with native peoples across the ocean, and as an old woman she longed to travel to the Rocky Mountains and beyond—even to China. Philippine courageously crossed borders and boundaries that were not just geographic or political; she crossed borders and boundaries of social class, language, culture and customs. Philippine’s circle of compassion was as wide as the world. Her deep desire was to bring the Love of God, which she had come to know so intimately, to those in the world she thought were most removed from it. Philippine had a Global Heart.
So what of us? How broad is the tent of our own inclusion? How wide is the circle of our compassion? How porous are the boundaries of our hearts? For whom do our hearts hurt? If the answer is too narrow or parochial, it is useful to know HOW Philippine’s Heart BECAME so GLOBAL. How? She opened her heart and spent copious amounts of time allowing God’s Love, through Christ, to fill her, to form her and, ultimately, to transform her. Her Heart thus became increasingly beautifully revelatory of Christ’s Heart. And AS Christ’s Heart, her heart encompassed the globe.
By Maureen Glavin, RSCJ
Head of School, Academy of the Sacred Heart, St. Charles
Founded by St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, 1818