“A saint is someone who makes goodness attractive.”
I know that, if asked, you would be able to give me a number of definitions of the word ‘saint’, however, the above definition is one that I particularly like.
Down through the ages, however, there have been many saints who did not make ‘goodness attractive’, in fact made it quite laughable. I am thinking of those who did strange and weird things in the name of goodness and holiness, for example, those who refused to take a bath – ever! Then there were those who whipped their own bodies until they bled or what about one particular ‘holy’ man who lived on top of a post for years. If these are examples of goodness and holiness, we might add, we would want no part of it!
Fortunately though, we have numbers of saints who, in their following of Jesus, did make ‘goodness attractive’! They were the ones who devoted their whole lives to caring for others- God’s poor ones – and they served with great joy. They maintained their sense of humour even amid terrible persecution and suffering.
They were living testimony to God’s goodness, power and love.
Though few of us will ever become canonised saints, we are all called to holiness. This means that we too share in the task of making ‘goodness attractive’. How? By radiating joy, holding on to our sense of humour, making good choices, being approachable, kind, trusting in God’s power at work in each of us, looking for the good in others, setting aside quiet times for reflection and prayer, to get in touch with God.
Three years ago, we, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, celebrated the the 150th anniversary of the founding of our Congregation. In particular we remembered and gave thanks for the woman, who, in answer to a call from God, gathered around her women who, like herself, would devote their whole lives caring for others, not just here at home, but also in far off Mission fields. This woman, though not yet canonised, made ‘goodness attractive’ especially for us Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions. It was the inspiration of her life that drew so many of us to join her Congregation and to follow her example. Our Foundress’ name was EUPHRASIE BARBIER and hers is a story that I would like to tell.
So, over the coming months, we will, through her story, see God at work in and through the life of Euphrasie Barbier, Foundress of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Missions.
Sister Louise Shields