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St Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus
(entered heaven this day in 1942)
It seems so long ago that you were on the fellowship in Europe and rediscovered Christ’s love, its power and its tenderness. I know. But it wasn’t that long ago, and you mustn’t forget it! God has given you a heavy cross: a family that doesn’t encourage your faith; the responsibility of earning money to help support your younger siblings; a father who is less than responsible. And yet, he has also given you so many blessings: your life, your faith, your youth, your dreams, your intelligence… And if he sent you to Europe and gave you a special experience of his love, it’s for a reason. He will show you the reason little by little, but for now, you must renew your good resolutions – all of them. Start writing in that spiritual diary of yours again, write the good and the bad, and read what you wrote two months ago, and don’t let the devil trick you into giving up on Christ. Take a lesson from today’s saint.
Pauline was daughter to a poor couple from northern Italy who immigrated to Brazil looking for a better life. They found a lot of suffering and poverty instead. But even so Amabile (the saint’s original first name) learned her faith and received the sacraments, and thus God’s grace had a chance to take root.
When she was 25, she and a friend began to take care of a woman in town who was sick with cancer. It was one of her typical acts of charity to those in need, but it sparked the foundation of a new religious order, the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, dedicated to a life of rigorous prayer and tireless service to the poor, the sick, the homeless, and all those in need.
The now Sister Pauline and her two companions worked so zealously and joyfully that even amidst their extreme poverty, they attracted a steady flow of vocations. Their congregation received ready approval from the bishop and Mother Pauline was named superior for life. For six years the Institute grew rapidly and spread Christ’s love among the neediest of Brazilian society. Then the Archbishop of Sao Paolo decided to remove her from any position of government in the Congregation and make her a subordinate for the rest of her life. Imagine how you would react to such a surprising about-face! The Holy Foundress didn’t resist this humiliation, nor did she evade the cross. The Archbishop himself described her reaction: “She threw herself on her knees… she humbled herself… she answered that she was most ready to hand over the Congregation… she offered herself spontaneously to serve the Congregation as an underling.” And that she did – for the next 33 years, the last of which were made even more bitter by physical sufferings – a horrible case of diabetes that led to blindness and the amputation of limbs.
Would you trust spiritual advice from such a Christ-like woman? I would. Actually, I do. I follow it every day, in my imperfect little way. And I would like to pass it on to you, so that it can be a light for you now and always: “Be humble. Trust always and a great deal in divine Providence; never never must you let yourselves be discouraged, despite contrary winds. I say it again: trust in God and Mary Immaculate; be faithful and forge ahead!… The presence of God is so intimate to me that it seems impossible for me to lose it; and such presence gives my soul a joy which I can not describe.”
God, my sorrowful young niece, will never let you down; you just have to stay the course and stay close to him. With my prayers, I remain, with honor,
Your devoted uncle,