(Excerpt adapted from Ch. 11 of my recently published book “Living the Treasures in the Land of MORE”) In the celebration of feast days in the Church's liturgical calendar, Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne is today's “Saint of the Day.”
Those words above are translated from what the Potawatomi Indians called the strange elderly nun who came across the ocean to teach them about God.
Born in France in 1769 and growing up in the midst of the French Revolution, Rose Philippine Duchesne spent many years caring for the sick and poor, helping fugitive priests, visiting prisons, and teaching the faith to destitute children. All the while she prayed for the day she might go abroad as a missionary. It seemed her hopes would never be realized.
Time passed. Finally at the age of fifty Rose enthusiastically answered the bishop’s call for nuns to go to the United States as missionaries. It took 11 weeks to cross the ocean and another 7 weeks on the Mississippi before she arrived at her destination in Missouri.
During the rest of her life in pioneer America, she built a convent, orphanages, parish schools, schools for Indians, a boarding academy, and a novitiate for her order. All the while suffering threat of Indian massacres, poor health, crude and cramped living quarters, shortages of food, water, fuel, and money, forest fires and blazing chimneys, severe climate, and total lack of privacy. At the age of seventy-two she founded still another mission school for Indian girls and nursed the sick until her death at eighty-three.
Unable to learn the Indian language at her advanced age, she was best known for praying while others taught. Her many active works may have disappeared in the passing of generations, but her intercession for the people she encountered is even now bearing eternal fruit.
In my advanced age, I don't endure the privations under which Rose served God. But I too want be make myself available as a “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad.” When my friends, my family, even virtual strangers, or those with little Christian background ask me to pray for them, as they so often do, I hope to be “instant in prayer, in season and out of season.” I too can no longer realistically expect to pursue the active works in the harvest field which I had the opportunity to do in years past. Nevertheless, while others teach and work, behind the scenes I can pray.
I can imagine that if Rose lived in my generation, she would have made full use of modern communication. But her prayers were not hindered for lack of technology. I do live in a high tech age. So I want to respond by praying immediately, and when appropriate even write my prayer by e-mail. I’m confident that as I send off my prayer through cyberspace it is simultaneously transmitted by Angelic Messenger Service in less than a nanosecond to Our Father Who is in Heaven. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your editorial blue pencil to make my prayers instantly good and acceptable and perfect before they reach God!