The Province of BFN 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 September: A woman with roots.
Important dates in September
- September 8 - Feast of the Presentation of Mary
- September 14, 1853 - Arrival of the first Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Latin America (Anna du Rousier) in Valparaiso, then Santiago of Chile
- September 15, 1853 - Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, to whom Madeleine-Sophie entrusted the Society during the crisis of 1839
Madeleine Sophie’s life
Madeleine-Sophie Barat was born on December 13, 1779, in Joigny, Burgundy. Born premature, she remained frail, but this did not prevent her from living to the age of 85. At that time, this city on the edge of the Ile-de-France region had about 5,000 inhabitants. The environment was essentially rural, marked by vineyards and forests. Mr. Barat was a cooper.
He also had a small vineyard on the hillsides. He owned his house, a sign of a certain social level and of belonging to the rural bourgeoisie, though there were frequent opportunities for people of different social levels and professions to meet. Madeleine-Sophie was the third and youngest sibling.
Her older brother and godfather, Louis, was destined for the priesthood. Her sister, Louise, married a rich merchant and tailor and had nine children. The family life of the Barats was happy and unified. Madeleine-Sophie received her first Christian education in the parish of Saint-Thibaut, where she took her first communion in 1789. The church would be closed shortly after.
The life of Madeleine-Sophie Barat is long and varied: multiple foundations, the closing of houses, long journeys by stagecoach and then by train, many joys, difficulties, much suffering and a life of great union with God, even mysticism. Madeleine-Sophie died on May 25, 1865, Ascension Thursday, at the Mother House, Boulevard des Invalides in Paris, which today is the Lycée Victor Duruy.
"Thursday, we go to heaven" she had said the previous Sunday.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower (...) Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him, will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. (...) By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. (John 15:1, 4-5, 8-9)
"I am the true vine": Observe this vine... the roots, the vine, the leaves, the grapes; feel the warmth of the sun; contemplate the life that spreads from the earth to the tasty seeds. To remember the words of the priest during the Eucharistic liturgy: "The wine, fruit of the vine and the work of men".
"Remain in me and I in you": What can "remaining" in Jesus mean for me? Imagine this relationship that God has proposed to you and the different forms it can take in your life.
To let yourself be touched by Jesus who desires to remain in you.
"Remain and bear much fruit": What can these numerous fruits be? What fruits can you offer to others? Give thanks. Which ones could you offer that still need to mature?
Slowly reread the text, asking yourself how to remain, to stay, to settle in God and to receive the sap of love that he offers us.
From the writings
"Little by little she acquired a taste for study, for she loved reading. She read Spanish and Italian in the text. That madman Don Quixote," she said, "gave me many happy moments; once, among others, my mother and my sister found me laughing so hard that they wondered if I had lost my mind. But," she added, "the translation does not have the same saltiness or the same grace.”
(Life of the Venerable Mother Barat by A. Cahier, RSCJ)
"One day, my aunt and I were sitting in the shade of a large oak tree; before us lay the beautiful valley with the graceful meanderings of its lovely river. My aunt was reciting to me verses of Joas in Athalie, with the soul and the fire that you know she has: the accents of her voice, sweeter than the sweetest music... The feeling of the beautiful, the true and the good entered me through all my senses, all the pores of my being breathed in a purer and more divine air."
(Testimony of her nephew Father Louis Dusaussoy in the Life of the Venerable Mother Barat by A. Cahier, RSCJ)
Texts for today
Do you know that this year - the jubilee year - my cousin, Madame Barat, is being canonized? My cousin??? It is not absolutely sure, but almost. In any case she is twice linked to my family. She was an obedient one, that one. She founded her aristocratic boarding school with no specific training - abandoning all the gifts of her soul to the Father who used them. I sometimes regret that she did not play her instrument herself... But then, we would not have known.
We are very fortunate in our family! So many great saints are known only to God alone! Whereas 'my cousin' is a prominent saint, an achiever."
(Letter from Marie Noël (Marie Rouget) to Father Mugnier. Auxerre, December 23, 1924, Postscript)
- Like the disciples, like Madeleine-Sophie, are you ready to recognize yourself as a branch of the vine that is Jesus?
- What small decisions can you make to get to know Christ better and cultivate your attachment to Him?