Our hearts must grow deep and wide in order to express the depth and breadth of the love of God. – how might humility add depth to our capacity to love? – does charity extend the scope of our love or does the scope of our love extend our charity – or both? – what does it feel like to know that God delights in us?
We can sometimes forget that God is God. Janet Erskine Stuart RSCJ reminds us that all things are possible for God. – can you recall a moment of revelation in which you saw that what appeared to be unlovely was actually lovely? – have you ever been aware of God’s presence when you have done something that you didn’t believe possible? – have you ever unexpectedly found meaning in something mundane?
The power of love to transform us is one of the great themes in literature. Many stories and songs remind us that love calls forth the best in us. In fact, it calls us to be the love of the Heart of God. – have you ever seen love change a person for the better? – how does being loved help you to be a better person? – in what ways does love draw you into union with the Heart of God?
Our culture tends to value having and doing over being. It is not surprising then that we may fall into valuing ourselves according to what we do. Jesus, however, shows us another way. – does this saying from St Madeleine Sophie Barat feel like an unhelpful suggestion that you ‘offer up’ your sufferings? – how might less action help you to be closer to Jesus? – what feeling arise when you can do very little?
We can get stuck in the past or caught up in the future. Instead, Janet Erskine Stuart RSCJ encourages us to trust God in the now. – are you more likely to dwell in the past or the future? – do you have a sense of God ‘keeping’ you? – are you at ease taking a day at a time?
We tend to think of ourselves as the protagonists in our lives. However St Madeleine Sophie Barat invites us to a life that is so Jesus-centred that there is nothing but Jesus. – who or what takes centre stage in your life? – how can you be the Heart of God in the heart of the world? – when do you feel the most in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
In our culture obsessed with youth and beauty, many dread old age and death. It can be challenging to embrace our longer life expectancy as a gift. – do you dread old age or diminishing capabilities? – as you grow older, are you freer from attachments? – does contemplation come more naturally as you grow older?
Janet Erskine Stuart RSCJ called for a total commitment. Such a commitment engages our hands, hearts, feelings, will and conscience. – how do you respond when someone is labelled a ‘head person’ or a ‘heart person’? – which part of yourself do you tend to hold back? – is there more that you could give to God?
At a time when there is some anxiety about the future of religious life, these words offer comfort. Through them our founder, St Madeleine Sophie Barat, points the way. – what for you is ‘religious spirit’? – how might we express ‘religious spirit’ today? – what might the words ‘upheld’, ‘propagated’ and ‘extended’ mean today?
Today we celebrate the 150th anniversary of St Madeleine Sophie Barat’s entry into eternal life. We invite you to mark the occasion by making an online pilgrimage prepared by the Centre Sophie Barat in Joigny, France. Your journey for #Sophie150 starts here.