The Church and St. Louise
Respectful, Obedient; Yet Not Afraid to Defend the Truth When Necessary
St. Louise lived with the conviction that the Church was inseparable from the Holy Spirit. Encouraged by this fact, she was a woman of the Church and wanted every Daughter of Charity and every member of the Confraternities of Charity to live as daughters of the Church. Therefore she asked them to adhere to and obey the magisterium of the Church and to respect the pastors and bishops. She herself lived this way. Nonetheless, when some pastor or bishop interfered in the mission, suggesting or demanding things that were not in accord with the gospel and its imperative to serve the poor, she courageously expressed her objections and disagreement. We see this in her relationship with the pastor in Chars, a follower of Jansenism.
Respect for the Pope
Louise’s unconditional adherence to the Church, the hierarchical body of Christ, is revealed and expressed in her respect and veneration of the Pope, the representative of Christ and the head of the Church. This attitude was also expressed in a letter that she wrote to M. Antoine Portail when he was in Rome: You are at the source of the holy Church and near its head, the Holy Father of all Christians. I have so often wished to be there in order to receive, as a child– though an unworthy one– his holy blessing (SWLM:202 [L.179]). She had hoped that before her death the Company of the Daughters of Charity would receive Pontifical approval. This, however, would not come about until eight years after her death.
Reflections on Mary
We always find Mary in St. Louise’s writings as the Mother of God, intimately united to her son in the accomplishment of the divine plan. Louise’s reflections on the role of Mary in the redemption caused her to see, well before any definition of the dogma, the importance of the Immaculate Conception. She wrote, “Most Holy Virgin [I wish] to glorify God for the choice He made of you to be the Mother of His Son. Because of this divine action, your conception was immaculate since the Father applied to you the anticipated merits of the death of Jesus Christ.”