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Personal Reflections

Personal and Communal Reflection:  Gems from the Constitutions. the Memoirs, and the Life of Marie Madeleine
Contributed by: Alicia Pérez fcJ, Marguerite Goddard fcJ and Paula Mullen fcJ


The many contradictions… Frequently someone in whom Marie Madeleine confided advised her, and then due to an inspiration, changed the advice. Human error, divine intervention! Through these contradictions she clarified her thinking and seemed to become more ready to listen for the will of God mediated through others. She had so many difficulties in Rome, yet she was lead by the Spirit. God ´went before her´. The contradictions were like buried treasure: apparently unfortunate, yet yielding fruit.


In the Constitutions Retreat Fr Brian O´Leary spoke of renunciation as the freeing of the apostle for mission. It is linked to the desire for union with the Poor and Suffering Christ. In Part VIII , the love which unites the Trinity overflows into the world (through us) and embraces God´s people. This unifying Love clashes with self-love, and that is the reason why renunciation is necessary.

We must exhaust our own resources (prayer, sacrifices, etc.) and cast all our concerns on Him. God will help us beyond our desires. Our experience of human suffering, suffering of the heart, opens us to be able to offer His understanding and compassion.

GEMS FROM Marie-Madeleine Victoire de Bonnault d´Houet, Foundress of the Faithful Companions of Jesus by Michel Schepers, Paris.

God communicates with us, encourages and consoles us through others (eg. The unknown woman who told Marie Madeleine that she would never cry as many tears as souls saved by her ´works´. 

On another occasion, much later, Marie Madeleine was so discouraged by Galician opposition that she was thinking of not founding any more houses. ´Unless there is a miracle we won´t need houses any more.´ She soon received a message from the Pope via a Cardinal from the Curia, to tell encourage her to keep going and to continue as she had always done up to then.

God also speaks through illness: Marie Madeleine was told to leave Rome because of the opposition of the Jesuits and that the Holy Father was angry with her, but M. Josephine fell ill and they couldn´t leave. During this time the Pope invited Marie Madeleine to an audience during which he affirmed her mission.

It is amazing to see the speed with which things happened when Marie Madeleine decided to follow the advice to found a community outside of France (due to the political situation in 1830). In 1829 the Catholic religion was legalized in England.  It wasn´t possible to found in Belgium, and through contacts she was led to Somerstown where within a week the whole school was handed over to her, and within three months she returned to France with 15 novices.

Looking at events with hindsight it is clear that everything is interconnected … the political situations, contacts through friends, church politics, illnesses, relationships.