Anniversary of the Beatification of Mary of the Passion – 20 October 2002
This anniversary is not a liturgical feast, but every year on 20 October we are invited to remember with thanksgiving the beatification of Mary of the Passion in St Peter’s in Rome.
- A brief history
This was the culmination of a very long process from the first steps taken under the leadership of M. Marie Jehanne d’Arc from 1915 onwards to gather all the documents necessary to open the Cause, to the official recognition of holiness proclaimed by Pope John Paul II.
In a special issue of the Rome Information Bulletin (FMM-INFO V/VI No. 59 – Beatification Special 2002), Sr Anne Marie Foujols summarised the history of this “long and often arduous road (…), which made it possible to bring out the shining figure of holiness of Mary of the Passion”. She evoked the sisters “who had the mission of offering in the shadows an assiduous work (…) so that the ‘gift of God’ made to the Church in Mary of the Passion be known and recognised. (…) The memory of those who formed this long chain of labour and love remains with us.” We cannot remember this event without being grateful for them too.
- The meaning of this commemoration for us FMM
The official recognition by the Church now assures us that the spiritual path of Mary of the Passion is sure, a true school of holiness, traced both by her life and by her teaching: an insistent encouragement to listen to her and to follow her so that our present mission remains marked by this particular inspiration of the Holy Spirit; a gift of God entrusted to the Institute for the world through the person of Mother Foundress. In fact, as the encyclical Redemptoris Missio affirms, it is indeed “the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of Mission… [who] assumes the role of ‘guide’ in the choice of persons or paths of mission” (cf. RM, chap. 3: 21, 24).
This recognition contains another aspect particular to the Institute, that of a true implicit rehabilitation of our foundress. As the Document of the Postulation for the introduction of the Cause of Beatification already expressed in 1979, Mary of the Passion “is now purified from the mire with which she was covered by unscrupulous adversaries, ecclesiastics, men and women religious”. These were unjust and serious accusations made at the time of the separation from the Reparatrixes; they pertained to her government and her moral life. They were never officially denied, even after Pope Leo XIII authorised her re-election as Superior General.
Through this suffering, to which Mary of the Passion knew how to give meaning by giving herself up unreservedly with the crucified Christ, she grew in her love for the Church. In her evangelical way of combating evil, she was determined never to separate charity from truth. As early as January 1877, she could write to her first sisters: “My dear daughters, I make you a promise and demand something from all of you, that in one’s examen one should allow a little room to see if one has failed in charity, either in thought or in word, towards those who have made us suffer”.
This is an integral part of her holiness. Is this not yet again a clear line of action for us, in the current state of church life, as we offer our lives for the Church and the salvation of the world?
- To be prayed for on this day
Prayer of an FMM to Blessed Mary of the Passion*
Mother! If today the Church proclaims you blessed, in glory you remain above all our mother, the one who brought us to life in sorrow and in faith.
Gospel Woman, you gave your life so that a new world might come into being in Truth and Charity.
Mother! Grant that we may follow in your footsteps (…)
Hold us by the hand on the road you have opened for us, following Christ who gave himself up to the Father for the salvation of the world (…)
And so may we reach the heart of the Trinity, that Trinity which you see “so beautiful in the Truth of Love”, who is Father, Son and Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen
*Excerpts from the Prayer written by Sr Marie Thérèse de Maleissye on the occasion of the Beatification of Mary of the Passion