St Claudine Thévenet

Virgin and Foundress of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary (entered heaven this day 1837)

Dear Claude,

If you didn’t have any goals, you wouldn’t have any obstacles.  I mean, if you weren’t trying to get somewhere with your projects of evangelization, you wouldn’t notice how little progress you have made.  But the fact is you are trying to advance Christ’s Kingdom there on campus, where it doesn’t seem to be too welcome, where, in fact, you seem to be butting heads against gargantuan opponents.  Such is the stuff saints are made of, my precocious young nephew; get used to it.  Learn a lesson from today’s saint, for example.

She saw her two brothers executed during the chaos of the French Revolution, and as they were carried off, they told her, “Forgive, Glady, as we forgive.”  The words impressed her heart deeply and shielded her from vengeance, bitterness, shame, and discouragement.  Eventually, she decided to dedicate herself to relieve the massive suffering caused by the Revolution.  She felt a special burden to help people discover the reality of God and his love; she used to say there was no greater tragedy than someone having to live their life without knowing God.

A holy priest, Fr Andre Coindre, tapped into her burning charity when he asked her to begin caring for two small children whom he found shivering on his church’s doorstep one afternoon.  She took it as a sign from God, and launched into what would become her lifelong project: forming shelters and schools and houses of “providence” that could give young girls the skills and faith they needed to live decent lives in society and have a good Christian influence on those around them.

Troubles never left her side – troubles coming from the death of Fr Coindre, from the death of two of her first sisters in the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary that she had founded, from efforts to meld her Institute into another, and even from the resurgence of violent revolutionary factions and the pressure that went along with it.  Nothing phased her.  She had to rebuild, restart, re-inspire, but she did it.  When she died, exhausted, at 63 years of age, her Congregation really started to grow.  At the time of her canonization, 1008 sisters lived and worked in 180 communities on all five continents.

If a girl from the country can buck the French Revolution to build the Kingdom, I think a boy from Nebraska can buck a few worn out ideological broncos, and maybe even win them over for the cause of Christ – the only cause worth fighting for.

Your loving uncle,

Eddy

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