Open your hearts with Madeleine Sophie: A woman who seeks

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 January: A woman who seeks.

Important dates

  • January 18–25 - Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
  • January 18, 1806 - Madeleine Sophie was elected Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Madeleine Sophie’s life

After the Revolution, the world was no longer the same as it was before. Religious life was no longer allowed and it was forbidden to take vows. A new form of religious life then took shape, this time an apostolic one, in the heart of the world. In June 1801, Madeleine Sophie took her vows in Amiens. On December 21, 1802, she was elected superior of the small group. From the beginning, prayer, interiority and adoration occupied an important place in the life of the sisters. The way Madeleine Sophie led the group was marked by Ignatian spirituality and the influence of Father Varin. Firmly and with prudence, she reconciled autonomy and obedience. The life of the community was contemplative from the start. Madeleine Sophie had wanted to enter the Carmelite Order, but circumstances determined otherwise. The nascent institutes were not subject to being cloistered, and the nuns went out on business, to accompany their students, and sometimes to spend time with their families. Madeleine Sophie wanted an institute dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but this was not yet possible, especially for political reasons. It was not until 1814 that the official name was changed to the "Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus".

For prayer

"Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray (...). He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Luke 11:1-4, 9-13)

"Jesus was praying... Lord, teach us to pray": "Our Father...", I know this prayer by heart... what if I learned it "by heart"? I can say it again slowly, stopping at "Give us each day our daily bread". What does this mean to me? What can I recognize as a gift from God today?

"Ask, seek, will receive, you will find, it will be opened to you”: Remember a prayer to Jesus that apparently went unanswered. How did I feel? Jesus does not say to ask for this or that, to look for this or that, but to have a heart that knows how to receive, that knows that doors open when everything seems closed, even if they are not always the ones I imagined...

"How much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?": The Holy Spirit that the Father gives us is a fire, an inner strength much stronger than we dare to imagine. Alone or with others, after slowly repeating the words of the Lord's Prayer, we can express to God our trust and faith in the Holy Spirit.

From the writings

"I will remind you of the words of Our Lord, urging us to cultivate the field entrusted to our care, and not to be content with the knowledge that we possess the precious treasure which it contains, without taking pains to seek it out by continual work. Sometimes our Lord allows some people to discover this precious treasure at once; but there are others who must search the whole field, stirring up all the earth before they discover it... So let us not lose a moment.”

(1830 Conference)

"There are sources that remain unknown. They exist. Remove a bit of earth and you will see clear and limpid water gushing out."

(Letter from Madeleine-Sophie)

After a general council held at La Ferrandière: "We did not want to postpone the examination of the complaints made about the studies and the rules of the boarding school. For this reason, we appointed a commission from within the Congregation itself, composed of persons who were in a better position to judge, given their practice and experience.

Their work was conscientiously done, submitted to the Congregation and unanimously approved. It will soon be printed so that it can be put into use. On this point again, my good Mothers and Daughters, I would ask each one to sacrifice her own ideas in order to embrace with simplicity what has been settled. (...) It is not by floating perpetually in projects of change and improvement that the goal is reached; it will be achieved much more surely by putting all one's care into following well the route mapped out, to make the most of the advantages it offers and to avoid its pitfalls."

(Circular addressed to the whole Society, December 13, 1851)

Texts for today

"Prayerful discernment must find its origin in the readiness to listen to the Lord, to others, to the very reality that challenges us in a new way. Only those who are willing to listen have the freedom to renounce their own partial or inadequate point of view, their habits, their patterns. In this way, he is truly available to receive a call that shatters his certainties but leads him to a better life, because it is not enough that everything is fine, that everything is calm. God could be offering us something more and because we are distracted by convenience, we do not realize it.”

(Pope Francis, Gaudete Exsultate #172, 2018)

An invitation

Like Madeleine-Sophie, I am invited to seek and find God in all things.

  • Am I ready to accept that my daily life, my actions and my conversations are the very place where Christ asks to meet me? How can I recognize his Presence?       

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