Gospel Reflections

Feast of St Julie

Matthew 5:1-12a

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Rita Raboin

Published: June 22, 2015


When St. Julie Billiart was canonized on June 22, 1969, just 46 years ago, I was a Sister in Temporary Vows and living in community in Woburn, MA.  In preparing this reflection, I reminisced on how many years had passed since we began to pray for Julie’s Canonization, and then in all the years passed since the Church declared her “Saint.”  Somehow the passage of time disappears almost unnoticed!

What makes a saint a Saint, anyway? Even without the formal canonization process, Julie Billiart was already recognized by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as a saint.  You may think of a special person in your life about whom you say: She or he is a saint!”  We hear this from others as well.  Saint Julie was sick for most of her life and the breath of the Holy Spirit became a wind storm of dynamic power that motivated thousands of women to consecrate their lives to God and to impoverished people on five continents for more than 200 years.

Is it Julie’s endurance, trust, courage that we love? Is it that she always declared, “Give me the poor, absolutely only the poor?” Her focus remains a strength for us today; a veritable inspiration so many years later after the foundation of our Congregation.  Today, we give thanks for world-wide recognition of our Saint, but even more so for the gift of her incredible life.  Julie’s life witness, her words and her spirit continue to motivate us to make known God’s goodness through our diverse ministries among people living in poverty throughout our world today.

What makes a saint a saint? Do we begin with everyone around us, our own families, our Sisters, friends and collaborators in our ministries and our Communities in the Units of Notre Dame throughout the world?  Today, we look to Julie and other persons like her who never doubted God`s goodness. Even in the most trying times, her faith was unshakeable as she reached out to little girls, abandoned on the streets of France, after the French Revolution. Her charism of making known God’s goodness has a long life among us!  Our General Chapters reinforce a special priority for poor women and children, including today trafficked women and children in different countries.

We have as our Foundress, a woman of indomitable courage. Let us celebrate today in thanksgiving for this opportunity. May we continue to marvel at her spirit of God-centeredness and her magnanimous response to care for those living in poverty in her time.   

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