March 5, 1999

Seeking the Face of the Lord /
By Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein

Blessed Mother Theodore: a model for all of us

Last Sunday afternoon, the bishops of our five Indiana dioceses along with many of the major superiors of religious communities in Indiana were joined by clergy, religious and laity to celebrate a Mass in honor of Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

The Sisters of Providence offered gracious hospitality and joined the celebration in their beautiful church. The celebration was a historic first for Indiana. More and more the marvelous reality of having someone who was a vital part of Church history in Indiana as a solemnly beatified member
of our Church is sinking in.

The experience of the beatification of Mother Theodore in Rome was overwhelming for those of us privileged to participate. One could hardly take in the significance of the occasion. Yet we need to do that; all of us do.

While canonization as a saint requires the testimony of one more miracle attributed to Blessed Mother Theodore, nonetheless she is formally beatified, and so we already have the testimony that we have a special intercessor in heaven.

Blessed Mother Theodore is a model of authenticity. I am struck and encouraged by her ability to keep her feet firmly planted on the ground while being a wonderfully spiritual person. Her kind of “realistic spirituality” is a hallmark of authentic spirituality.

As we read her journals and letters, we meet a person who has given herself over to the Providence of God but who continues to reflect, plan and make down-to-earth decisions that deal with the everyday needs of life.

She is a marvelous intercessor and patroness for those of us responsible for the spiritual and
material administration of our Church and communities, indeed for our families.

One of her statements comes to mind: “But again I must talk about money. When will the day come that we shall be able to be occupied only with God? Our consolation is that it is for him that we
engage in other things.”

Blessed Mother Theodore is a model of spiritual courage. She was a true pioneer who left her native land of France and journeyed to our part of the Northwest Territory of the United States, which had been in existence as a nation for only 64 years at the time. Some of our own ancestors in the faith were contemporary pioneers of those times.

We can only admire what Mother Theodore and her sister-companions went through in order to help bring the faith to this Indiana mission. To read her journals and letters is to share an experience of courage in the face of sufferings and trials.

Blessed Mother Theodore is a model of devout prayer. She was unswerving in her conviction about
the importance of prayer and her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the protection of Our Lady of Providence. Her devotion to the Way of the Cross is a timely reminder in this season of Lent.

It is telling to note that the first thing Mother Theodore and her sisters did when they arrived in the woods was to go silently to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the log cabin chapel. She showed us the value of prayer and spiritual communion with our Lord.

Blessed Mother Theodore is a model of balance in life. She once wrote to a friend: “Please give me a little share in your prayers. After a life of such activity and dissipation, I need special grace in order to bring myself back to recollection of spirit and become a true religious.”

She also wrote the consoling words:“What strength the soul draws from prayer! In the midst of a storm, how sweet is the calm it finds in the Heart of Jesus. But what comfort is there for those who do not pray?”

Blessed Mother Theodore is a model of zeal for missionary evangelization. She truly spent all of her
life to make Jesus Christ known and loved. She did so with a special care for the education of young women. She did so in virtually founding Catholic grade schools here in Indiana. Her mission in education was much of what challenged her balance in the spiritual and religious life.

Blessed Mother Theodore is a model of patience in sickness. Through the trying years of her pioneering work in missionary education she struggled with physical illness much of the time. Yet she continued to carry on her ministry as founding superior of the motherhouse at The Woods as well as many Catholic schools throughout the state of Indiana. She did not disengage from her mission because of illness, though she certainly would have had cause to do so.

In a word, all of us can find a friend and intercessor in our new and special patroness. †


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