France: Letters to Marie Poussepin - 2

on 26 Apr, 2020

Province of France, 04/26/2020.-  We continue to find the letters to Marie Poussepin. Each Sister expressing her desires and wishes, they share through these letters a great treasure and a good memory.

Marie Poussepin,

I come to you timidly, letting myself address you as "you in the singular"; it seems to me that this way of addressing makes it easier to meet each other through this letter that I write you today. I had not known you, as you lived in a century different from mine, but I have been discovering you for more than 30 years, not only through your Rules,   and history and that of the Foundation of the Congregation, but also through the sisters; a good number of them has already returned to the Father and has discovered you. Through their lives fully given, often without counting on their time and tiredness at the service of their sisters and brothers, often in very humble and yet, very important mission for all, without making noise: like the kitchen, laundry, sewing, house work and maintenance, keeping company for the children, nursing care, work in the parishes, acceptance of responsibilities…etc. they taught us the gift of self without calculating and simple and deep Faith in God in the middle of trials and tempests and also to fix our eyes on God with the trust of the humble little ones and to persevere…; they are real daughters of Marie Poussepin, consumed by the light that speaks beyond the words and speaks to us of the Presence of a God who Loves us.   

It is their joy of living and meeting together, their fraternity that one day gave me the desire to share their life inspired by the Spirit of the Lord. Without knowing it, I had already begun to discover and love Marie Poussepin, her Charism and her simplicity. Today it has been almost 32 years since I said ‘yes’ committing myself in this Congregation and more than 36 years counting the time of formation when I journeyed with God, others and myself, discovering and living your charism and opening myself to your way, faith, audacity, trust and foresight  that enabled me to assure solidly what, through the Holy Spirit you were building. You were building a Congregation for the service of the poorest, with Charity as the soul of the community, but also with the trust that you already placed in those who, after you will continue this work of God, with the Holy Spirit. Your trust made them capable of finding the means to adapt themselves, their life, their community and their mission to their century and to the new challenges, problems and needs of their society. This trust in your sisters who will come after you, without knowing the future, touches me a lot and leaves in my heart the tranquility of the certainty of a God who is present and at work in the whole history of our Congregation and in the history of our lives each day; it is like a gift which you leave us and give back to us each day. Thanks to you.  

By your kindness and love for each person and for the poorest and by your whole life totally dedicated, you have shown us that each person is precious and worthy to be loved.

By your life which radiated the light of God, righteousness, truth and peace, service and the gift of self by keeping nothing for oneself, in spite of the many trials and obstacles, you open us a path of life; we feel you at our side, encouraging us with the “trust” that you repeat to us in the Rules and which we need to live our life today.

What strikes me very much is when you said that if we live in fidelity to God, and to your spirit, the Congregation will withstand and will go through everything. “Through her community which is “the work of Providence,” Marie Poussepin has given everything. She is convinced that “her daughters will never want for the necessities of life, as long as they are faithful to their rule and diligent in their work.” She expects everything from God, but she also trusts those who, responding to God’s call will follow her in faith.” (Constitutions-original vision p.16) Very powerful words for today, that I let reason within me.

You always knew where your rightful place was: when you left the business to your brother, when you left for Sainville where the misery was great, when you handed over your work to another who would succeed you afterwards keeping nothing for yourself, when you did everything to ensure the future of this work of God…, in telling us that your only Treasure is God and your only desire is for the future and happiness of your sisters under the protection of Divine Providence and the Blessed Virgin.

You always send us back: to God so that we don’t get stagnated in a fault, to live in community with our sisters, to our mission, to grow in trust and love of one self, others and God, to weave the bond of Friendship and Love with Him who alone will enable us to live our consecration to the end, to discover deep within us this profound calm, this peace of God that dwells in us, even in the depths of storms, like the sea which is battered on the top by winds and gust of wind, while everything is calm below.

You told us the importance of taking time to stop, re-energize, taste all the gifts and graces received, return to God and let Him love and transform us so that we can give ourselves better once again in our life with the sisters and in our mission. Wisdom and human balance dwelt in your heart.

You knew how to do things and live the different stages and trials simply and joyfully for others, without being concerned about the criticisms that people could make. You let yourself be led by Providence; you trusted, not without pain or struggle but with Faith.

You lived your life to the full, renouncing that need for perfection for yourself and for others and by giving everything, without keeping anything for yourself, as you say in your testament.

Your life expresses that real joy experienced in giving and living fully without expecting anything in return and because it knows no rules, joy is not afraid to be imperfect and can surprise us even in the darkest moments.

You also tell us as a message that in our life, yes, we will live trials, sicknesses, temptations…, that our life will end one day, but it doesn’t matter, because each life will be counted and we will be totally loved. And that when we ask for healing, it is not necessarily that of the body that will be given us but that of the heart which receives it like a gift.

Your life shows us that faith is to hope in the invisible without the need for proof. That to have faith means not only to believe, but also to let go of one’s beliefs, to agree to trust what is, as it is and to let oneself be led by the Spirit, even if one is confused. That hope is at the heart of faith and makes it alive, it springs up naturally as a response to fear and uncertainty and it comes back again and again as a living “thing.”

Your life, your faith and your mission are filled with richness, teachings and Life that we will never finish discovering and living in our life.

One day in silence I stood there for two and a half hours in front of your tomb in the chapel at the Breteche and at the same time before God, there simply searching, listening to something that would help me in my life today, in what I was living. In that long silence, I listened; I came to realize that I was not alone and that the silence was filled; I let myself be carried by it.   

Within me these words came up as a whisper: “Read again the Gospel, your Constitutions and what I have left for you as important points to remain faithful and to go forward in the heart of this world of tempests and contrary winds, with your eyes fixed on God, in trust; remain faithful to God and to all that constitutes your consecrated life. Give thanks to the Lord for having chosen you, for all that you have received; look at your life, see the Ways and the Presence of God, how He has acted in you and carried you. 

And then there is this beautiful prayer that you pray to Him each day, that begins and ends with the Trinity and tells us the essentials of His message and our life, in a Trinitarian relationship with God, where Jesus opens to us His relationship of Love with the Father and invites us to enter into it through the Spirit.

« Lord Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, grant us by the imitation of Blessed Marie Poussepin to be firm in faith, unwavering in hope and generous in charity. Establish our souls in a living community of love and holiness, so that henceforth we may sing eternally, a hymn of praise: Glory to the Father, Glory to the Son and Glory to the Holy Spirit”

Each word seemed to me to be filled with a profound meaning and an elusive and very alive reality; were you showing me, Marie Poussepin, something of that reality of God which surrounds you and now dwells in you in fullness and which can become ours today in our lives? I left this question open and welcomed within me something like a deep peace which filled me little by little from within.

It’s just good that I share this with you; on this day you helped me to come back to the essentials and to trust, thank you. I am aware that nothing is finished, everything is to be constructed each day, the graces received remain but the road remains to be traveled, to start over again every day.

Today there are so many upheavals in our world, the restructuration of our Congregation, the small remnant that we are gradually becoming, Jean Vanier between shadow and light, the social crisis, migrants, growing poverty, so much injustice and violence, challenges of all kinds with the scientific advances which are not without risks for human beings in every respect, the pandemic and its terrible consequences…the positive change in behavior, of a greater humanity that is being born…And we still need to hear what you have to tell us, hear what the Spirit is blowing in us from God.

I share this prayer that comes to me:
Lord, God our Father, thank you for Marie Poussepin,
For the work that you have built through her, work of your Providence,
For her faith, docility, trust, foresight and inner strength,
Thank you for all the sisters who have worked following her, till today,
Who have given their lives for the service of others, in the exercise of charity,
Even in the most unrewarding missions,
Who year after year constructed and are constructing the Congregation,
Give life to your work of Love.
Thank you for those who work today and for those who will come.  
We do not know what the years to come will be like, nor do we know how we   
will be led to live our religious life in community and mission,  
We count on Jesus who is with us, on the strength of the Spirit, the Presence and Love of God and on you
Marie Poussepin to watch over your daughters and guide them, like you, with one eye to see today and the other to see and anticipate tomorrow.
 

I am happy to have spent this little time with you, I remain in silence close to you in God to understand and to receive how to live each day our religious life, faith, mission and everything that makes up our life. May this year of grace open us profoundly to your Charism, the will of God, his Love and Providence, to the essentials of our life and an unlimited trust in this God who loves us, who not only lives in me, but also in each  one of us, in each man, each woman and therefore in each one of my sisters. Thank you, Marie Poussepin,

 Sr. Catherine Arrondel

Poem!

For you, Marie Poussepin, these few words!
Let me first of all tell you of my joy to know that you are once again established at Sainville, the Cradle of our Congregation.
Presence of a community composed of members who speak of our internationality! Yes, a great joy!

It is twenty-five years since you are beatified: The Church recognized the holiness of your life and the work that you accomplished: Social apostle of Charity.
 
What I would like to tell you today:
I am fully united to the thanksgiving offered by the whole Presentation, for the work accomplished
by each one of us!
I see: your family lives in the world; it loves the little ones; it spreads the Word; it brings assistance to so many in distress

No doubt, I have brought my little stone to this beautiful work, to this edifice called Congregation...
Small stone, to Joué, Fleury, St Genès, Ancizan ...
I learned from you that the Word can only be spread, through all these small anonymous daily gestures, creating this desire to go to the other and tell him/her about Jesus Christ…
30 years of carpentry, this carpenter from Nazareth!
 
I could discover that in your big family, so many sisters outshine in fraternity, mixing cultures and languages for the same charity, animated by the only love: that of JESUS
consumed by the same praise: Glory be to the Father,
Glory to the Son, Glory to the Spirit
Yes, I learned from you about self-gift, that which gives itself day by day, without story and without noise, in spite of tiredness, boredom at times and the solitude of heart; but each morning, your tenderness is renewed and it invites us to adventure!
Yes, I learned the joy of sharing, with so many parents, youth, and children, the joy of hearing the Word, scrutinizing its meaning and sharing it,
by representing it through signs, even if they may be very small: images, models and practical achievements that speak for themselves: small train crisscrossing the villages of Palestine,
the Ship which is the Church driven by the SPIRIT and the Apostles,
so that we can place it at the reach of children; I learned from you that simplicity!
 

I also discovered that trust which helps to be rooted, and if communities are multiplied…communities are also closed, for lack of hands to support them : to believe that it was a grain that was sown, and that it will be raised at the right time by the master…yes, trust and hope

I learned that we must love, despite appearances to the contrary,
that we must know to forgive, apologize,
discover the best in the other and forget oneself to leave place for the other!

Marie Poussepin, I did not know you, no one around me spoke to me of you, but it took the welcome and the smile of one of your daughters to draw me to you; yes, this is the source that made me come to your house: a welcome, smile and caring from a sister of the Presentation;
Yes, then, I deeply believe in all those daily gestures which express charity:
Welcome, sharing, caring, respect, listening, silence! Oh, it does not make much noise: Isn’t there a saying that noise does not do any good, and that good does not make any noise?
Yes, well, it is from this encounter, that my life was placed in Your House.

Marie Poussepin, our world is no longer what we have known; it is no longer the world of our childhood, and adolescence.
It is a world in search of meaning, truth and solidarity; it is a world in search of questions: secularism, indifference, leisure, violence and the search for pleasure; each one searches for one self…
Then, open our eyes, so that they may see where we can still organize charity, the charity of Christ which opens our hearts and minds.
Widen our prayer to the dimensions of the world; make our Faith firm; keep us faithful to the commitments we have made in connection with this world in search of Truth!!
May the Word of the Gospel dwell in us and fashion us that it may become like the bread that we share;

Yes, I love your spirit of freedom and wisdom; for you, ‘Family’ was not an empty word but a very powerful reality; then, look at those families that love each other, those that tear apart each other, look at the child who tenderly loves his/her father and mother!

Marie Poussepin,
You saw what was good and you accomplished it: may our eyes see, may our hands do, and may them do what our eyes have seen!

Sr. Agnese Rinaldo