Father Corpus Delgado, CM concludes his insightful article on the prayer of St. Louise with three practical suggestions … suggestions that can encourage us, as members of the Vincentian Family, to continue to develop a life of prayer.
1] In the area of prayer we should not excuse ourselves because of a lack of time or because we have serious matters that must be dealt with:
I am distressed, my dear Sister, that you have not made a retreat since you have been in Nantes. Monsieur Vincent, to whom I showed your letter, says that you must take the time to do so. I will tell you what I did, shortly before Pentecost, with the advice of our Most Honored Father. He had me take five or six days for retreat after I had made arrangements to have important matters taken care of during this period and had turned the day to day running of things over to Sister Assistant. This does not mean that when a need arose I did not take time to discuss what was going on. I assure you, my dear Sister, that God made up for what was lacking in me … All that remains is for you to resolve to take the time. You may be certain that no one will find fault with your decision. You can place Sister Henriette in charge of the other sisters (SWLM:367-368 [L.326]).
2] Prayer should not be reduced to a specific time but should be prolonged throughout the day, in the mission or the service that has been entrusted to us:
A practice which our Most Honored Father taught us at one of his recent conferences will prove useful to you. It is, my dear Sister, to turn to God at the beginning of each action; to make an act of humility, recognizing that we are unworthy to perform it; then to make an act of love, undertaking it for love of him and offering it to him in union with similar actions which his Son performed while he was on earth. His Charity assures us that, if we go to the trouble to carry out this exercise for a week, it will become habitual and we will perform it effortlessly. I have no doubt that you will grow to love this practice which we must look upon as inspired by God for us (SWLM:493 [L.461]).
3] During times of difficulty prayer should not be abandoned  … nor should it be put aside when we feel as though nothing is occurring during prayer.
We must realize that in our prayer there will be trials and difficulties … there will be a need for purification and therefore we must remain faithful to prayer:
I am not surprised that Our Lord has given you a share in his interior sufferings. Did you think that you could be so honored before God and his angels without its costing you anything? I am certain that His grace is sustaining you very powerfully during this period when you feel abandoned and lacking in sensibility toward God. …
Vincent did not hesitate to place before the first Daughters of Charity the example of the Louise de Marillac:Yes, we have this picture, and you must consider it a model to inspire you to do likewise … You should also recall how [Louise] tended to conform all her actions to those of Our Lord. She did what Saint Paul said: “It is no longer I who live, but Jesus who lives in me.” In this way she strove to make herself like her Master by imitating his virtues. And that is what we saw in this good soul, who patterned herself on the virtues of Our Lord. So, it is this picture that you must contemplate, a portrait of humility, charity, gentleness, and patience in her infirmities. See what a portrait this is!
He concludes with this question. Could this not be a beautiful portrait for the whole Vincentian Family, one that strengthens us to cultivate a more profound relationship with God through a life of prayer?
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Throughout her life, Louise sought to give herself totally to God and thus sought to do God’s will. God was “the Other”, the “you” in her life
- 3 The practice of prayer in a woman who always wanted to be united with God
- 4 Union with the Spouse … expressions of Louise’s contemplation
- 5 Let us love Love … from prayer to service on behalf of the poor as a response of love to Love.
- 6 Louise de Marillac, a teacher of prayer. The prayer of Louise de Marillac and the experience of the Vincentian Family
- 7 Conclusion