Greetings from Pittsburgh! I usually work hard with Joe and our translators to issue our reflections on the first day of the month, but this month we waited a few days. Today, May 3rd, marks 105 years since Elisabeth passed from this life. There will be 12 masses said today across four countries (Brazil, Dominican Republic, France and the United States) with the intention of Elisabeth’s cause for sainthood. All masses have been posted at the following link.
We again express our gratitude to everyone who helped in this great show of support. Elisabeth’s words and life continue to impact so many around the world.
One of our very active supporters in the United States, Karen Feitl attended a retreat a few years ago given by Fr. Ben Syberg who focused the weekend on the life and writings of Elisabeth. Karen was recently in touch with him and asked him to write a reflection for us.
May 2019 Reflection
I discovered Elisabeth at a time when I most certainly needed her. Five years into seminary, God sends me this wonderful woman, this treasure trove of inspiration and insight. Several years later, giving a retreat on her life to sixty Catholic woman, I had almost forgotten how much I drew from Elisabeth. Having then been a priest less than two years, I discovered her once more. I need to discover her more and more. Because she has never failed me.
She keeps me on the straight line. The line right down the center. For there is much that can push me off balance. Take the world for example. When the world seems too modern, too mobile, too fast or too enlightened, I remember that Elisabeth lived in the heart of secular France. She is a saint, and yet was born only sixty years after the French Revolution. Or when it seems in life like my best efforts aren’t enough, that I can’t make a difference and nothing I do matters, I remember that Felix became a priest after Elisabeth died. Who had more reason to give up, and yet more reason to celebrate the patience of God!
When I get caught up in my own successes, my gifts and talents, when I feel on top of life and in control, I remember her mountain of writings on suffering and the cross. I remember that she understood what matters. Yet when I feel overwhelmed by the cross, by illness and weakness, and the pitfalls of life, I remember how joyful Elisabeth was. Even if I get caught up in depression, and scold myself for it, I remember – Elisabeth felt that sadness in life too. She knew that deeper emptiness. Depression doesn’t make one a failure.
When I think I have no time for family, I remember all the love she showered onto her nieces and nephews. Family was always at her center. When I look around our country and our culture, and I want to cuts all ties from it and run away, I remember that Elisabeth loved her homeland. She was French at her core. When I think there’s no allowance for levity, for the finer things and joys of life, I remember that Elisabeth made the allowance. So I can too!
Yes Elisabeth always puts me on the narrow path. One that is rarely taken, but right in front of me. I thank God she still shows me the way.
Fr. Ben Syberg is a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He serves as the Pastor of St. Lawrence in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. He will celebrate his fifth year as a priest this summer. He’d like to be a saint, but isn’t always sure how.
Fr. Ben’s favorite quote from Elisabeth follows.
“I must not give in to my immense longing for seclusion and solitude in spite of my inconsolable grief and natural aversion to superficiality.” (Journal entry of October 17, 1905)
We continue to receive prayer requests and periodically update the Prayer Requests page. If you would like to add a prayer request, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With our prayers,
Jennifer and Joe MacNeil