Wednesday, December 22, 2010

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne - Part 6

The Last Years: The Cross to the End 
          Rose lived for ten years after she returned from the Sugar Creek Mission. She spent her remaining days in St. Charles, where a convent had been reestablished a few years before, living in a “tiny room under a stairway near the chapel” (Willard). The room’s one window had paper in place of glass panes. A thin mattress served for a bed, with one coarse blanket for a covering (Lynch). Typically, Rose praised these accommodations, thinking them to be more than she deserved. Despite continual illness, she prayed constantly, sometimes assisting at three Masses in a row and spending many hours before the Blessed Sacrament. Her holiness was evident to all. Some of the students even saw a beautiful, glowing light around her after she received Holy Communion (Emery 694). The Lord was her constant companion, but humanly-speaking she was more and more lonely. Her friends, fellow nuns and priests alike, were dying or leaving for missions elsewhere. Even worse, for nearly two years she received no letters from her dear friend Mother Barat. Horrified to think that perhaps she had offended her spiritual mother, she grieved and suffered horribly (Emery 693; Jeanne Marie). Mother Barat, for her part, was not at all offended but was very worried because she also was not receiving letters from Rose. Finally, Mother Barat sent one of her nuns, actually Rose’s niece, all the way to St. Charles to find out what was wrong. Rose was greatly consoled by the visit and by letter from Mother Barat that her niece hand-delivered. (19)
          In spite of her many accomplishments, in spite of the thousands of lives she touched, in spite of her saintly spiritual life, Rose thought herself to be a failure. “I feel that I am a worn-out instrument, a useless walking stick that is fit only to be hidden in a dark corner,” she once wrote (qtd. in Horvat). “If Alexander the Great wept on the shores of the ocean because he could not carry his conquest further, I might weep also at the thought that my advanced age prevents me from saving so many poor people (qtd. in Kun). This, too, she offered to Jesus, having once heard in the depths of her soul, “You are destined to please Me, not so much by success as by bearing failure” (qtd. in Horvat). She had learned to accept what she saw as her failures, discovering that “faithfulness is more important than fruitfulness” (Lynch). She remained close to Jesus’ Sacred Heart, carrying her share of His cross, until the very end of her life (Emery 687, 692). On November 18, 1852, at the age of eighty-three, Rose gave her confession, received the last rites, and took Holy Communion. As the Angelus bell rung at noon, Rose said her final words, “I give You my heart, my soul, and my life – oh, yes, my life, generously,” and died (Jeanne Marie; Horvat). (20)

The Final Triumph
          At the beginning of her mission to America, Rose Philippine Duchesne wrote, “We cultivate a very small field for Christ but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self” (qtd. in Lynch). At that time, and perhaps even at the end of her life, Rose never envisioned how far the work of her Society would spread. Today the Society of the Sacred Heart boasts 3500 women in more than 500 communities based in forty-five countries throughout the world (Province). They are teachers, missionaries, nurses, doctors, counselors, spiritual directors, writers, artists, therapists, lawyers, administrators, and social workers, dedicated, as Rose was, to “creating communion beyond boundaries that divide, such as those of country, age, culture, education, and temperament.” Rose must be so very pleased.
          As for Rose herself, her greatest triumph came after her death, when she entered into the Heavenly Kingdom and met her Lord face to face. Did she hear Jesus say the words she so longed for: “Well done, My good and faithful servant....Come and share you Master’s joy” (Matt 25:21)? The Catholic Church believes that she did. Rose was beatified by Pope Pius XII on May 2, 1940 (McNamara; Willard). The miracle for her canonization occurred in 1951 when a Sacred Heart nun, Mother Marie Bernard, was cured of a malignant tumor on her neck through Rose’s intercession (Lynch). Pope John Paul II officially canonized Rose Philippine Duchesne on July 3, 1988 (McNamara). All her life Rose had closely followed Jesus’ command, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23), as she encountered numerous trials and severe hardships in her vocation and mission. Now in triumphant in Heaven, at home with her Lord and King, she helps other Christians carry their crosses, and attain their triumphs, through her prayers and the example of her life. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us. (21)

19. What might you do to help someone who is lonely?
20. Describe some of the failures you’ve experienced in your life. How did you respond to them?
21. Do you truly appreciate the communion of saints? What might you do to increase your understanding and participation in it?

Works Cited
1. Bascom, Marion. Rose Philippine Duchesne: Pioneer Missionary of the New World
Purchase: Manhattanville College, n.d. 
2. Emery, S.L. “Mother Duchesne, R.S.H., An Uncanonized American Saint.” Catholic World 65 (1897): 687-694. 
3. Flynn, Cleta. “Mother Rose Philippine Duchesne and Surviving Early St. Charles or Life at the Duquette Mansion.” Network of Sacred Heart Schools. 12 Mar. 2008. < _cletaflynn.pdf>. 
4. Horvat, Marian T. “St. Philippine Duchesne: Failures Became Her Success.” Tradition in Action. 11 Mar. 2008.   <>. 
5. Jeanne Marie. “St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, Frontier Missionary of the Sacred Heart.” Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 14 Mar. 2008. <>. 
6. Keppel, L. Blessed Rose Philippine Duchesne: Religious of the Sacred Heart and Missioner 1769-1852. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1940. 
7. Kun, Jeanne. “‘I Can Only Adore the Designs of God’: The Life of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.” The Word Among Us. 12 Mar. 2008. <>. 
8. Lowth, Catherine M. “Philippine-Rose Duchesne.” New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia. 8 Mar. 2008. <>. 
9. Lynch, Dan. “St. Rose Philippine Duchesne: ‘Woman Who Prays Always.’” The Jesus King of All Nations Devotion and the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 2003. 12 Mar. 2008. <>. 
10. McNamara, Robert F. “Rose Philippine Duchesne.” Irondequoit Catholic Communities. 8 Mar. 2008. <>. 
11. New American Bible for Catholics. Iowa Falls: World Bible Publishers, Inc.: 1991.
12. United States Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Community. 1 Apr. 2008. 
13.“Venerable Philippine Duchesne.” History of Our Cradle Land. 12 Mar. 2008. <>. 
14. Willard, Shirley. “St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.” Potawatomi Trail of Death. 8 Mar. 2008. <http://www.potawatomi->.

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