Feast Day Reflection on the Life of St. Marguerite

Written on: October 16, 2018

Feast of St. Marguerite d’Youville, October 16, 2018

1 Corinthians 13:4-13 or James 2:14-19
Psalm 46:5, 6a &b, 6c-7, 8-9a, 9b & c-10
Response: “Blessed are you God of mercy and love.”
Alleluia: Ps. 138:8:  Alleluia, Alleluia.  Your kindness, O Lord, endures forever; forsake not the works of your hands.  Alleluia

This Mass today will be celebrated in honor of St. Marguerite d’Youville, Foundress of the Grey Nuns. Throughout Canada, where St. Marguerite is recognized as the first Canadian born Saint, her feast day, October 16, is widely observed. St. Pope John XXIII at her beatification named her “Mother of Universal Charity” and St. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1990.

The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart at Holy Redeemer-Lafayette are pleased that the readings and prayers of the Mass for St. Marguerite are being used here today.

We welcome Fr. Jack O’Rourke, other Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, coworkers and friends from the area, who join us today. Welcome to Holy Redeemer-Lafayette residence!

A few words on the extraordinary life of this woman is fitting, as we ask for her blessing on our own lives. Marguerite is a woman for all times. Born in 1701, she lived in the environs of Montreal for seventy years. During that time, her Catholic up-bringing rooted her in a deep love for God and the poor and the suffering people she encountered.

Her journey of love began early in life. As the oldest child in her family she helped her Mother with household duties. Her father died when she was quite young, leaving the family in a precarious financial situation. What would have been a predictably comfortable future for her, his death radically changed her future.

  • She didn’t plan to drop out of school after only two years to return home to help her Mother with her younger siblings.
  • She didn’t plan to enter into an unhappy marriage or have four of her six children die as infants.
  • She didn’t plan to be a single mother raising her two remaining children after her husband’s death.
  • She didn’t plan to meet up with criticism from family, civil or church authorities as she ministered.

She didn’t plan any of those events in her life, but through these circumstances and obstacles she still helped the hurting and the less fortunate.

Our scripture today tells us that “Love never fails.” Marguerite reached out her hands to those who were less fortunate than she.  No task was beneath her, no person was disregarded. Her good works among the poor of Montreal gave witness and solace, she did not need many words. She professed her faith through her works.

When did we see you and minister to you?” the disciples ask in the gospel. Marguerite saw Jesus in the eyes of the poor and the destitute and she loved them.

Richard Rohr writes in his book, Things Hidden: “God’s love is constant and irrevocable; our part is to be open to it and let it transform us. There is absolutely nothing we can do to make God love us more than God already does; and there is absolutely nothing we can do to make God love us less.  The only difference is between those who allow that transformation to happen, and those who don’t, but they are both equally and objectively the beloved.  One just enjoys it and draws ever-new life from that realization.

We honor saints like Marguerite because they show us that with God’s grace and our cooperation, suffering can lead to compassion rather than bitterness. To look life straight in the eye, to see its pain and its beauty—this is an essential part of glimpsing the way forward.

St. Marguerite d’Youville help us to create a compassionate world.

Mary Elizabeth Looby, GNSH wrote and delivered these words on the life of St. Marguerite at the beginning of the Liturgy celebrating the Feast Day.

Sister Mary Elizabeth is a trained Spiritual Director and amateur artist. She enjoys living among the many different people who reside at Holy Redeemer Lafayette, but mostly enjoys her interactions with the other Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart who live there.

One thought on “Feast Day Reflection on the Life of St. Marguerite

  1. Nancy Gormley Schaub says:

    Thank you for these beautiful reflections on St. Marguerite’s life. I always want to refer to her as Mother d’Youville. It is hard to get used to the new title.

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