The BFN Province has created a monthly series that presents the life and work of Madeleine Sophie and invites us to follow her bold example. Read the installment for the month of April: A Woman of Communion.
- April 30, 1904 - Transfer of the body of Madeleine-Sophie from Charenton-le-Pont (Paris) to Jette (Brussels)
Madeleine Sophie’s life
Like all founders, Madeleine Sophie went through great difficulties. In order to facilitate the union between the sisters, she sometimes accepted ways of proceeding with which she did not agree. Without being totally excluded from the congregation like other founders, she was put aside by a certain number of priests and bishops who wanted to direct the new institution. The Society went through two great crises: at the beginning (1807-1814), over the choice of the name of the institution and, in 1839, over the organization and functioning of the congregation and specifically over the location of the Generalate. Madeleine Sophie proposed a structure that responded to the expansion of the congregation in the world, but there was a strong Gallican movement in France that opposed these changes. Madeleine Sophie waited patiently. Correspondence was a way to maintain the union: 14,000 letters from Madeleine Sophie are in the archives. The writing of "circulars" also provided news to all the sisters and reinforced their common spirit.
From the beginning, Madeleine-Sophie wanted a single place for initial formation, which was not always possible given the dispersion of the Society throughout the world. Today, we maintain a time of common formation at the international level before the perpetual vows: probation.
“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
(Letter to the Colossians 3:12-16a)
"Put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience": Listen to the advice given to the Christians by Paul. What is the basis for this encouragement? What does it lead to? What advice is most important to me? How do I live this or would like to live this?
"You who are one body": What is this body of which St. Paul speaks? What other words come to mind? Can these values be applied to the community to which I belong? Alone or with others, what areas do I need to pay attention to in order to progress?
"And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection": How do I react to crises?
What makes communion and forgiveness possible? What if I thought of the only weapons possible: silence, humility, prayer that unites me more deeply to Christ? Ask for the grace to enter more deeply into this "perfect bond".
From the writings
"You must be people who, with their lives, are the reason for God's love for all, a ferment of communion, peace and fraternity."
The third means [of keeping the spirit of the Society] is the union of minds and hearts. Let the members of the Society feel deeply how precious and necessary this union is, what blessings spring from it, and what disastrous consequences would follow from division.”
(Constitutions 1815, 318, XX)
“On this union, therefore, which is the work of grace, rests all the hopes of this little Society; by this union of minds and hearts it will maintain and strengthen itself, and spread more and more for the greater glory of God, for the propagation of the worship of the Sacred Heart and for the sanctification of souls.”
(Constitutions 1815, 323, XXV)
Texts for today
“We come from different countries with histories of war or colonization, or whose current governments espouse opposing policies. Through our internationality we have experienced how being sisters or members of networks (schools, popular education, issue-based advocacy groups) invites us to rise above our past hurts and present-day conflicts between, among and within our respective countries and peoples. Together, we believe that another world, where everyone has a place of dignity and respect, is possible.”
(Being Artisans of Hope in Our Blessed and Broken World, Society of the Sacred Heart, June 2019)
“The Gospel invites each one, wherever she is, to search with compassion and hope for ways to build communion. We need conversion and we want to enter into the process of reconciliation which God offers us in Jesus.
We feel the urgency to EDUCATE TO RECONCILIATION based on respect […] and justice.”
(General Chapter, 1994)
In the face of crises, Madeleine-Sophie focused on prayer and communion.
- Take the time to listen to the inner movements that run through me in order to choose what leads to words, forgiveness and life.