It may surprise you to know that Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne often wrote in a journal, keeping track of the events of the day, the people who visited, important moments and celebrations – in a word, providing a record of the life of the community. In fact, the cover of this journal is the opening page of one of her “House Journals,” a recording – for posterity – of the significant life events in the earliest days of the St. Charles foundation, Philippine’s first home in the New World.
Year of Prayer
This Year of Prayer celebrates the missionary journey of Philippine Duchesne and her four companions from France to the New World, thus beginning the internationality of the Society of the Sacred Heart, now in 41 countries.
Sister Barbara Dawson, our Superior General, and her Council have invited the whole family of the Sacred Heart to enter the Year of Prayer, to be and to act as one Body, and to create space and silence to listen to the heartbeat of God. What a wonderful way to celebrate Philippine Duchesne, known affectionately as “the woman who prays always.”
Every Monday from November 20, 2017, to November 19, 2018, the worldwide family of the Sacred Heart will be united together in prayer and reflection. Thanks to regional editors, Françoise Greffe, RSCJ (France), Kim King, RSCJ (Canada), Elizabeth Nakayiza, RSCJ (Uganda), and Park Jeong Mi, RSCJ (Korea), the collection of reflections represents nearly all the countries where we are located. The subjects of these reflections are as varied as the background of the writers: friendship, suffering, loss, courage, boundaries, perseverance, hope. The styles include prose, poetry and prayer, and each reflection is accompanied by an image.
Philippine kept a journal, a spiritual practice which helped her become ever more attentive to the inner stirrings of her heart. A pdf journal is provided here for those who wish – either to download or to complete online. The use of social media is also encouraged throughout the world so that insights might be shared among us across our geographic frontiers.
You are welcome to encourage others to join us in prayer. Please explore the bicentennial website for news of coming events and for numerous resources: a short Philippine biography, images, music, lesson plans, pilgrimage options, etc., to enrich your celebration of the Bicentennial Year.
Thank you for helping to make the Year of Prayer a time of grace for all of us.
None of this is reassuring if we do not see God in the storm
“The creaking masts, the sails hastily folded or torn to pieces, the helm abandoned in order to ease the ship, all this is not pleasant for those who do not see God in the storm.”1
Philippine, an energetic woman, a lover of truth, did not hesitate to describe what was not ‘beautiful’ in the Rebecca’s journey. She says in her letter, “I shall not conceal from you the dangers of the sea nor my own weakness.”2
Roots and Branches
Strong as an oak tree and at the same time flexible in the face of any changes and challenges – this is Philippine Duchesne. It is not only her name that evokes an oak tree; it is even more her character – or is it more than that? Is it her rootedness in God?
The oak tree sends its roots deep into the earth, which makes it strong, resistant to heavy winds and severe thunderstorms. At the same time the oak tree can adjust to different conditions, such as changes of climate.
Thinking of Philippine in Fukushima
Philippine Duchesne was moved by a strong call from God to go and be with native people in North America. Passion to bring the love of God led her to a land and people unknown to her. She travelled by ship, which took her two months – no internet, no smart phone, no Skype. While in America, she had to wait and wait for the letters from Sophie Barat. Faith, courage and patience enabled her to carry on her mission to spread the love of the Heart of God.
The Wise Men’s Star
I have chosen a single small event from the history of the beginning of missionary life of St. Philippine Duchesne, without which, probably, the further history would not exist. One day, when Philippine was in the girls’ dormitory (1-10-1806), she was contemplating the detachment of the wise men. This was the moment when she desired to follow in their footsteps. A sign that she considered to be a confirmation of the true desire to be was the feeling of internal freedom. She desired to devote herself to preaching to non-believers.
Heart to Heart for Hearts
Ever since I have come to know St. Philippine, she has become my friend and companion on my spiritual journey. Philippine’s voyage to the New World resulted from a profound conversation and call from the Heart to her heart for all hearts. God beckoned her to let go, take action and move, to trust in the winds that would pelt the sails of her Rebecca, and to hold onto the rudder tightly and courageously on the high seas.