|The original seal of the DCs, circa 1633|
"La Charite de Jesus Crucifie Nous Presse"
As I was reading a book on retreat meditations based on the spirituality of cloistered St Therese, a phrase struck me "...Caritas Christi urget nos - The Charity of Christ impels us" The author then goes on to talk about how everything done in love becomes prayer, etc, etc. I was expecting a reference to the Daughters – “The Charity of Christ Crucified urges us” is our motto - and was disappointed to not find one. So I checked the footnote, expecting a reference to the Daughters. Wrong again. Instead, it pointed me to a verse in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians.
Then I felt like a real idiot for being in formation with a religious community, entirely clueless as to the origin of their motto. I stupidly thought that it was something St. Vincent or St. Louise made up...it sounds really good, right? Who was I to know that it comes from 2 Corinthians 5:14? Whoops.
As I turned to my Bible to find the whole verse, I was filled with gratitude to be part of this community where the whole motto, the whole purpose of the Company is that the Charity of Christ (Crucified) impels us! The love of Christ urges us! And, as my Catholic Youth Bible puts it, the love of Christ urges us on! The Daughters of Charity...their entire charism, their entire spirituality...is not only based on the fact that we must imitate the love of Christ but that His love is what pushes us on, it's what drives us forward, it is His love that is asking us to serve. And what I really love about the motto is that the vocabulary, St. Paul's vocabulary, lets us know that it is something urgent....He COMPELS us, He URGES us. This isn't something slow, not something we can wait to do, it's something we must do NOW.
And the Daughters of Charity are women who have followed that call to do something NOW. 2 Corinthians 5:15, the next verse, gives me an even deeper understanding of who the Daughters are: "He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him" Jesus is calling us in the people who are poor - the homeless, the abused, the addicted, the sick. He is asking us to stop living for ourselves and live for Him - to become poor for Him, to teach for Him, to heal for Him, to bear the load of becoming frustrated or discouraged because of our work, all for Him.
How blessed am I to be in formation with this Company, whose sole reason for being is the love of Christ and following that love, which leads them to those the world has forgotten...a purpose that has carried them on for almost 400 years now. How blessed am I to follow in the footsteps of other women who were pushed by Christ's love to go in the direction of the poor, who gave all of their imperfect selves to live for Jesus Christ in the poor. What an honor He has given me by being here.