“The seal of the Company of the Daughters of Charity represents a heart encompassed by flames, with the figure of Jesus crucified. It is surrounded by the motto: ‘The charity of Jesus crucified urges us.’
“The charity of Jesus Christ crucified, which animates the heart of the Daughter of Charity and sets it on fire, urges her to hasten to the relief of every type of human misery.” (From the beginning of the Constitutions and Statutes of the Daughters of Charity)
The seal of the Company designed and used by St. Louise de Marillac, dates back to 1643 and provides us with a unique insight into a foundational aspect of her spirit and life of service. Suffering was no stranger to St. Louise. While she seldom wanted for anything materially, she suffered great emotional pain throughout her life. In time, she began to embrace her suffering as the seed of her vocation and a call from God. St. Louise wrote, “God, who has granted me so many graces, led me to understand that it was His holy will that I go to Him by way of the Cross. His goodness chose to mark me with it from my birth and He has hardly ever left me, at any age, without some occasion for suffering.”
It was the cross of Christ which gave her comfort and a way forward. She encouraged all her Daughters to “follow Christ to the foot of the cross.” What she formed within the minds and hearts of her companions was not to glory in the suffering itself. Instead, St. Louise encourages us to use the sufferings of our lives to embody the great compassion and generosity of Christ’s greatest gift; suffering on the cross for the salvation of human kind.
St. Louise came to love the suffering she endured knowing that God allowed it for the sole purpose of her spiritual growth. She knew that if she offered her suffering back to God, it would be accepted with love and strengthen her for a life of service to the Community and to those who live in poverty.
Throughout her writings, St. Louise offered insight as to how our material and emotional sufferings in the world might be the very fodder which leads us closer to God. Her focus of the suffering, crucified Christ provides grist for the spiritual journey of the Daughters of Charity. She presents Christ as our rule and model and encourages her Daughters to find comfort and strength at the foot of the cross. She was confident that whomever spends time contemplating the crucified Christ will come to know He is the one being serviced in those who suffer in our world today.
Written by Sister Margaret Louise Brown, D.C.
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