Three days ago we celebrated the feast of St Philippine Duchesne, and with it, we began to commemorate the bicentenary of her journey, with four companions, to America in the spring of 1818. Today we go back in time to 1800: we leave the ocean's vastness and wide-open spaces of Louisiana and Missouri, and find ourselves in a Parisian attic, at a clandestine Mass just a few years after the infamous Reign of Terror and the guillotining of priests and religious. As with 1818 we find ourselves with a tiny group of women; fervent, generous, courageous women, taking a huge risk into a largely unknown and uncertain future.
Today, wherever we are, we too find ourselves, if not in shattered societies, then most certainly in wounded, troubled ones. We live in a world of contrasts, of suffering and beauty, goodness and heroism alongside - and often emerging from - violence and pain. We too can feel daunted, powerless and helpless in the face of so much brokenness: but it is precisely at such moments that we are called most strongly to welcome once again the grace of our vocation, to give our lives in compassion and communion, in contemplation and generous, God-revealing love. This is the legacy and the spirit bequeathed to us by this tiny band of courageous, faith-filled women, and especially by Sophie. We can do no less.