Pentecost and the Holy Spirit played a significant role in the life of Louise de Marillac. The following excerpts are taken from a lengthier study on Louise and prayer written by Corpus Delgado, CM…
Louise de Marillac, who knew how to recognize the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit, found ways to celebrate this reality in her personal and community prayer as well as in the Church’s liturgy .
We note the practical-apostolic character of the prayer that Louise addressed to the Holy Spirit. Her prayer was not some abstract contemplation on the third person of the Blessed Trinity. Rather her reflections on the Holy Spirit led her to understand the important consequences that the Spirit had for the life of the Church and the life of individual men and women: unity, joy, dedication to the poor, service activity.
In her Rule of Life in the World, Louise expressed her desire to spend the days between the feast of the Ascension and Pentecost in retreat .
We also possess Louise’s thoughts that were written during a retreat in which she meditated on the coming of the Holy Spirit and the dispositions that were necessary in order to receive the gifts of the Spirit .
Louise wanted the Sisters in the various houses to make their retreat on the days between the feast of the Ascension and Pentecost (SWLM:768 [A.75]).
Louise’s correspondence, those letters written during the time of the approach of the feast of Pentecost, reflected her esteem for this feast which she referred to as the great feast (SWLM:127 [L.118], 339 [L.118b], 350 [L.345], 396 [L.210b]).
On Pentecost Louise renewed her commitments and her desire to live wholly for God: I beg God with all my heart to take complete possession of all that we are on this holy feast day (SWLM:288 [L.433]).
Each month, on the date on which the feast of Pentecost had been celebrated that year, Louise would pray the Sequence, Veni, Sancte Spiritus, which the Liturgy assigned to that feast (SWLM:689 [A.1]).
Louise wanted all the Daughters of Charity to have a great devotion to the feast of Pentecost and felt that this should take the form of a special devotion (SWLM:768 [A.75]).
Louise was eager for the coming of the Holy Spirit and invoked the Spirit throughout her life: Should I be so fortunate as to receive the Holy Spirit, oh, how I must desire this with my whole heart! (SWLM:819 [A.26]).
Louise invoked the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the day (SWLM:689 [A.1]) and she also invoked the Spirit throughout her life (SWLM:768 [A.3]).
Louise exhorted the Sisters to invoke the Holy Spirit … an exhortation that reflected her own practice in this regard:
•The Sisters ministering on behalf of the galley salves should invoke the Holy Spirit frequently in order to purify their thoughts, words and actions (SWLM:741-741 [A.91].
•The Sister in charge of the Seminary should frequently implore the assistance of the Holy Spirit in order to see the Sisters and all that they do in the light of the Spirit … here Louise referred to the Sisters in the seminary as well as those in the various parishes who would be visited by the Director of the Seminary or who would be received by her when they came to the Seminary (SWLM758-759 [A.91b]).
•The Sisters teaching in the various schools will go to school at 8:00am and there kneel down and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit for themselves and for their pupils, that they be taught purely for the glory of God (SWLM:761 [A.91b]).
•The Sisters should have recourse to the Holy Spirit in order to request greater strength (SWLM:798 [A.65]).
•The Sisters will ask the Holy Spirit for joy in ministering on behalf of the poor, one of the seven gifts of the Spirit (SWLM:74 [L.102]).
Outline and links to full article
- 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
- 8 Footnotes