Philippine Duchesne offers us the heart of a "frontier woman." She was a woman of deep prayer, as others described her, and a woman who spoke with her heart in the Saint Charles and Florissant world of her time. She was undaunted by language, culture, climate, distances and uncertainties of every kind. Instead, like a humble seed in the earth, she garnered a rich harvest in the slow process of dying and birthing.
Over the centuries, like Philippine, many young women and men felt "a call to mission" in distant lands and made immeasurable contributions in these places. Today, however, in several countries, missionaries are not so welcome. Their work is often considered controversial and their presence experienced as a threat to certain age-old traditions and cultures. Moreover, the internet is a great means of communication today. So, where do the frontiers exist? What would the 'frontier woman' be like today?
Perhaps Philippine, our frontier woman, has a question or two for us: Do we need to strengthen our internal bonds - spiritual and material? At the same time, should we turn outward to new life-giving sources, there to discover our place and spirituality anew? Where, for example, do we see ourselves in relation to the young who are being drawn by the Spirit to differently expressed spiritual commitments and involvement in the service of humanity?
Saint Philippine calls us today to respond to the promptings of the Spirit. In this lies our hope. How best can we address these realities in the midst of uncertainties and even, humanly speaking, at the risk of possible failure? Philippine beckons us to courage, unceasing prayer and contemplation in order to let go of all that hinders us and to let come the powerful work of the Spirit in our lives.
Mary Varghese, RSCJ, Province of India
Image: Mary Verghese, RSCJ