Friday, March 9, 2012
An Open Letter to St. Louise de Marillac
As a good writer, I feel every letter, especially to someone I've never written to before, needs an introduction. But as I wrote to Monsieur Vincent, I'm not sure that I need to write one to you. Do you already know who I am? Do you and Vincent have conversations in heaven, or even laughs, over your postulants?
It was awkward in the beginning to write to Vincent in a familiar way, yet I do not have that awkwardness writing you. Did you know, Sister Louise, that you're the one saint that I wish I could talk to face-to-face? Don't get me wrong - Vincent is great and so are the million others. But if God gave me a proverbial coffee-shop date with one saint, I would pick you (even though you seem more like a tea person).
You're probably wondering "well, why me?" It's not because, as a good Daughter of Charity postulant, I should pick the foundress of my community (though that may have a bit to do with it) It's for a more personal and maybe superficial reason. See, I think you and I are more alike than both of us may think. Please know I mean that in the most humble way. I certainly don't mean my canonization process is coming anytime soon.
We're both avid perfectionists, both of us probably to an annoying fault. From the almost 400-year old writings/letters we have from you, that's pretty darn obvious. You even write about how there were points where you were even afraid to receive Communion because of your inadequacy! Truthfully, your perfectionism makes me smile....because I think "Yes, thank God I am not the only one!" So my question, Sister Louise, is how did you deal with it? How did you reconcile that scared perfectionist self with the self that is on fire with love of God and charity?
Our proverbial coffee-shop conversation may actually be egotistical on my part, to which I apologize. My poor excuse is that I believe it is during religious life formation is like a mirror of our selves, showing a reflection we've never fully seen before. That reflection sometimes leads to lots of questions, whose answers aren't too easy to find. And as for me, I have lots of questions.
But enough about me - those questions will have to wait for another letter, not an "open" one. Next Thursday (the 15th), we celebrate 352 years since your death. I like to think you already know but, just in case you didn't, your Daughters are strong, a characteristic both borne out of you and their spirit of humility, simplicity and most of all love of Jesus Christ.They're truly servants of the poor, our Masters, but in ways you couldn't have even possibly imagined back then. There's even conversation going around about how we can use our cell phones for outreach in your spirit! Yes, cell phones! The Company isn't perfect, yet I can imagine you being awfully suspicious if it were. I can imagine you telling Vincent "there's something going on here that no one's telling us about...." Yet I think you would be proud of your Daughters. Please keep praying for us. Please keep interceding for us. Please continue to watch over us...and maybe even have a few laughs while you're at it.
I have a deep-rooted feeling that one day that proverbial coffee-shop date will happen - though be it in heaven, where I'll come to you with even deeper questions. Or maybe I won't even say anything, maybe the two of us will sit and drink our coffee (or tea) in silence and smile, as only two really good friends who have spent such time together can do. Meanwhile, though, I remain here on earth, clumsily trying to follow in Jesus' footsteps as you yourself did, and hope that I'm doing you and the Company proud.
In love of Jesus crucified,