A homily for the Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Religious of the Sacred Heart who brought the Society to the United States in 1818.
Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10 ; Psalm 63; Lk 12:22-34
“Do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear…can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?”
A good question.
Go ahead, Philippine Duchesne! Get on the ship! Sail across a tempestuous ocean, to an unknown land, to uncertain work, in an unnerving language, with unfamiliar people…
And by the way, don’t you worry about a thing… Ummm Hmmm…. How much easier for us to hear this in our time—because we know it all came out! Philippine became a saint, the network of Sacred Heart schools exists, and there are over 300 Religious of the Sacred Heart in the United States.
We know how it all came out… or, do we? I wonder if this story might have sounded familiar to some of you…perhaps if I put it this way—
Go ahead, new fifth graders! Climb those stairs! Go to the new land known as the Middle School! Don’t worry about your uniform, where you are supposed to be going, or when lunch will be. Sixth graders—learning the names of new students, new teachers, all that new English vocabulary?? No problem. Seventh graders, that new language of Upper School—peer group, life skills, X-period, Advisory, Visual Foundations… I’m sure it will work out just fine. And teachers, go ahead, teach the subject you’ve never taught! Be a homeroom teacher for the first time! And, by the way, don’t worry. Yep. Right.
What was Philippine’s response to the multitude of unknowns? She prayed…always, according to her beloved Potawatomie. She turned to her God who she believed would not abandon her to her worries, she turned to her God that would not cast her hope back into the sea but rather would lead her feet through the prairie grass…all the way until today when with the eyes of faith, we look to the mountain of those who have made a difference in our world and are able to say “How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of the one announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation.”
But, today, in this time and place, I’d like us to think bigger than feet. How beautiful upon the mountain are the heart, the hands, the mind, the feet…of those who work to bring about a world where we help one another, where we treat everyone with dignity, and where all are loved…that is God’s vision… this is what Philippine now sees from that mountain. This is what we will see when we join her and walk our own journey with our heart and hands and mind and feet… without worry about the small matters, but by prayer and trust in God and the multitude around us. Our hands, mine, yours, yours., yours… our hearts, minds, …these are the hands and hearts and minds of God. The only ones God has. God’s people, God’s beloved children who are called to put aside concerns for ourselves and prepare the way for the coming of Love.
As you now know, lunch is at 11:45, the uniform guidelines are in the handbook, and most specialized vocabulary is explained in orientation. What’s left is only for us to seek God, bring forth the vision in own time and space and way. May Philippine’s pioneer spirit be with us all. God already is. Always is. No worries. But not easy.