One who starts out toward the unknown does not see the difficulties of the path right away because the gaze is directed in the distance. So Philippine, when she embarked on the Rebecca on March 21, 1818, and sailed toward an unknown world, was nearly fifty years old; but she had the energy of youth, the urgency to carry the Gospel to those who did not know it, and a heart full of hope. She did not yet know that often the plans of God do not coincide with ours, even though the French Revolution beforehand and the long wait afterwards had prepared her. Later, other painful events would remind her that “if the seed does not die, it will not bear fruit.” And then, alongside simple people who spoke a language incomprehensible to her, she would be only “the woman who always prays.” But along the way, she would encounter other dangerous setbacks: practical difficulties, the climate, the food, the slowness of the mail, health ever more fragile, relationships that were not easy, and finally ... Mother Galitzine. In this way, the intrepid Mother Duchesne, by the way of suffering, humiliation and prayer, arrived at that fullness of the gift of self that transformed her.
I think that Philippine is great, not only for her apostolic zeal, but for the way in which she let herself be led, bent, and nearly shattered by great and small circumstances. Across the length of her long and difficult life, she always obeyed, God above all, but also superiors and religious and civil law, because she understood that the mission entrusted to her was that of “bearing witness to the love of the Heart of Jesus” by word and action, but perhaps even more by humble, silent prayer.
Rachele Gulisano, RSCJ, Province of Italy
Image: Luciana Lussiatti, RSCJ, Province of Italy