Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time – Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne November 18th 2022
Today in the United States we celebrate Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, one of the pioneer missionaries in the United States, a saint whose life beautifully reflects the missionary adventure: she served God in the way He asked to be served. Duchesne was born in France in 1769, and after a time with the Visitation sisters and following the French Revolution, found her way to Saint Madeline Sophie Barat and the Society of the Sacred Heart. At the insistence of French bishops in America, Duchesne offered herself for the missions in the Americas. More than anything else, she wanted to teach catechism to the Native Americans, but, as she said before leaving France, “Even if I could do nothing but cook for the missionaries, I should be perfectly satisfied.” Saint Rose and her sisters worked in Louisiana and Missouri, but Rose herself was always assigned where she couldn’t teach the natives as she would’ve liked. These missions were full of difficulties and privations, without enough food and without priests to celebrate the Mass. Nonetheless, Saint Rose encouraged all those around her, and, finally, at the age of 72, the saint was assigned to a mission where she would work among the natives. It was the Jesuit in charge of the mission who insisted she be sent; when the missionary sisters were presented to him, he pointed out St. Rose, who was sitting nearby silently praying the rosary, and said, “But she must come too. She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work.” Indeed, the natives called her simply, “Woman who prays always.” Her ill health and inability to learn the language did not prevent her from helping the mission; her assignment, however, was not to last long. After one year, her superiors moved her back, probably on account of her illness and hardships. Her response to this painful sacrifice was simply: “God knows the reason of this recall, and that is enough.”
In the Gospel Jesus reminds us that holy things are to be set aside for God alone; the sellers had taken the sacred place of the temple and converted it into a market. In our lives as religious, everything that happens is, in a sense, something holy, something can make us a saint; we can ask ourselves, do we use all the things of daily life to become holy, or do we look upon them with worldly eyes, converting the greatest gifts of God’s providence, into useless complaining and anger?
Let us pray, through the intercession of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Saints Peter and Paul, and Mary, Cause of our Joy, for the grace to use all the things of this life to become saints.