Sister Suzanne Guillemin – meditation on faith

In 1967 Pope Paul VI declared a Year of Faith, similar to that which we have now. On that occasion, the letter dated 1st January 1968 of our Superioress General, Sister Suzanne Guillemin, to the whole Company,  was devoted to FAITH. Here are some extracts taken from that “meditation”:

Faith is the very base of all spiritual life, essentially of all religious life; it is the root of our contacts with God, and the source of that charity to which we aspire.

A simple faith

We can commence to meditate on faith by affirming quite simply that we must believe in the faith given to us by our Baptism. (…) Whether we received it at an early age in the bosom of a Christian family, before we could be conscious of this gift, or whether it was bestowed on us after the struggles of a personal conversion, in full maturity, it is the initial gift on which all the others depend. In imitation of our sainted Mother {Louise de Marillac} who had the devotion of celebrating the anniversary of her baptism, let us love to commem­orate this day in thanksgiving, in meditation on the fundamental benefit of the theological life, and by a serious examination on the way in which we have put it into practice. If our faith is clear and unclouded, let us thank the Lord for sparing us those struggles which are the most painful of the spiritual life, and let us make use of our simple and lucid faith to lighten the way of those who, less privileged than we, know the pain of doubt and anguish.

An enlightened faith.

Let us examine our state with regard to faith! Let us not remain in calm ignorance on this point, for all spiritual progress to which we aspire can only be the fruit of our progress in faith. Let us have a sincere and fervent desire to be warmed and enlightened by the fire of faith, and let this desire become a firm determination, shown by continual prayer and an assiduous and fervent sacramental life, for the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, received in good dispositions, increase in us the faith, hope and charity that we ask for after each of our Communions. Prayer and the sacraments are the permanent sources from which we must nourish our theological life.

A humble faith

The grace of faith is safeguarded only in those humble hearts who are firmly convinced of their weakness, and because of this, expect all things from God. Their humility is an irresistible attrac­tion to the Lord Who is pleased to communicate Himself to them, and to respond to their desires. (…)  May our faith be humble and simple, received with great gratitude as a benefit we are unable to appreciate as it deserves, and a gift of which we must make the fullest use. May a humble knowledge of ourselves keep us in a state of constant prayer for the increase of our faith. May it lead us to found our faith on the official teaching of the Church.

A strong faith

Do not let us think that humility and obedience in matters of  faith signify  the abandonment  of responsibility and personal engagement. Life lived according to the faith is a continual combat which demands great courage; we do not know how far God will lead us if we are faithful, and our initial act of faith implied that we accepted this uncer­tainty, and engaged ourselves to follow Christ without being able to foresee the future. “You must live your whole life according to the Christ you have received—Jesus the Lord; you must be rooted in Him and built on Him and held firm by the faith you have been taught, and full of thanks­giving.”    (Col. 2, 6)

An active faith

The gift of faith, like all other gifts, has not been given to us solely to help us in our own efforts to contact God. In us, faith has been given to the Church for the salvation of all, and we are respon­sible to our brothers and sisters for the faith which must be extended to them by us. (…) Let us remember the promise made to Saint Catherine, a promise which refers to ourselves, that “God will make use of the two families to reanimate the faith.” Let us recall also, that from the time of our origin, the “teaching of the faith” was con­sidered as a duty inseparable from all charitable action. Let us draw from this an important lesson for the present time: every Daughter of Charity must be, there where God has placed her, a catechist of the faith, not only among the poor, but among all those with whom she works, or whom she con­tacts.

Let us read with the eyes of faith the life of Mary, and let us ask her urgently to obtain for us the gift of a faith like hers; “simple, enlightened, humble, strong, serene and active”.