OUR LADY OF CHARITY
Saint Vincent de Paul founded 'The Daughters of Charity'. Other congregations founded in the 17th century also included the word 'charity' in their name. As for Saint Jean Eudes, he could not conceive of a congregation without explicitly expressing its link with Mary: the actual name of the Eudists is the 'Congregation of Jesus and Mary'; the 'Society of the Admirable Heart of the Most Holy Mother of God' is also placed under the protection of Mary, of her heart.
Concerning Our Lady of Charity, John Eudes made a very clear link between Mary and Charity, i.e. love. In the Special Wishes, written at the start of the Constitutions (OC X:70-77), John Eudes stated that "the sisters of Our Lady of Charity can in all humility claim it their glory to be the Daughters of the most holy Heart of Mary". To justify this claim, he relied on three main reasons:
- The first reason he gave is simple to understand: their specific vocation is to "work for the salvation of lost souls", which comes in a special way "from the most loving Heart of Jesus, burning with love for these very souls; He and His most holy Mother are of one Heart".
- The second reason asks us to enter into a journey of faith. All the many crosses, set-backs and tribulations which John Eudes faced, particularly during the first ten years of the foundation, were for him a sign of the very special love of the Heart of Mary, who allowed them to share in the cross of her son, which she herself shared with all her love. The concrete sign of this love was the episcopal approval received on the feast of the Heart of Mary, 8 February 1651!
- The third reason is that John Eudes himself felt called to consecrate the new Congregation to the very loving Heart of the Mother of God. And, because of this, everyone in the Congregation must "strive to imprint in their hearts an image and perfect likeness of her most holy life and virtues, and so become worthy to be the true daughters of the Mother of fair love."
Shortly after this, in the same text of 'Wishes and Prayers', Jean Eudes prayed that the hearts of the Sisters might be 'so many living images of pure love, of excellent charity… and of all the other eminent virtues which reign in the sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary. That their hearts may be as one heart in the sacred bonds of most perfect charity, and that they may be one with the Heart of Jesus and of Mary by virtue of divine love." … to be continuted
And then he addressed the Sisters: "Beloved Daughters of the amiable Heart of the Mother of Love, abide in the motherly Heart of your dear Mother; it is one with the Divine Heart of her Son Jesus. Let it be the place of your rest, the city of your refuge, your impregnable tower of strength, your garden of delights, your earthly Paradise. Live in the life of that blessed Heart. Let its sentiments be yours; enter into its dispositions; follow its inclinations, love what it loves, hate what it hates, and nothing else… give yourselves up without interruption to the spirit that animates it, that its spirit may possess you and lead you in all things, that its grace may sanctify you, that its charity may inflame you, that its love may set you on fire, and above all that you may be devoured by its zeal for the salvation of souls".
There is nothing left unsaid in these texts, in which John Eudes demonstrated his personal commitment, enthusiasm and deep love for the Congregation that he founded, and which had cost him many tears.
given to the Sisters preparing for Final Vows in 2018
by Sr Marie Francoise Le Brizault