I have chosen a single small event from the history of the beginning of missionary life of St. Philippine Duchesne, without which, probably, the further history would not exist. One day, when Philippine was in the girls’ dormitory (1.10.1806), she was contemplating the detachment of the wise men. This was the moment when she desired to follow in their footsteps. A sign that she considered to be a confirmation of the true desire to be was the feeling of internal freedom. She desired to devote herself to preaching to non-believers.
To do so, like the wise men, she had to set out on a journey and start to look for Jesus in an unknown land. This “setting out,” however, did not take place instantly. It was subject to her superior’s consideration and involved a wide range of feelings: expectations, prayer, desires, impatience…. Despite difficulties, Philippine remained faithful to the desire that was born during contemplation. In the end, she was given permission to set out like the wise men and travel a long distance. Contrary to that of the wise men, her journey was one-way travel. She stayed on another continent, consequently looking for Jesus and serving him until the end of her days, even when she did not see the light of the star.
Often, I wonder how deep and true this experience of meeting Jesus must have been that it had given her the strength that supported her through her entire life.
There are moments in the life of every one of us when desires are born during prayer. It is worth asking oneself when observing St. Philippine: how long have I been already looking for Jesus? Do I still follow the star?
Boguslawa Ochal, RSCJ, Province of Poland
Image: Maria Korytko, RSCJ, Province of Poland