Gospel Reflections

Feast of St Julie

Matthew 7:7-11

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Anne-Louise Nadeau

Published: May 13, 2015

On this anniversary of her Beatification in 1906, one hundred nine years ago today, St. Julie Billiart made her formal debut in the Universal Church. She no longer belonged solely to the tiny village of Cuvilly in France; she remained no longer in the unique purview of those who called themselves her Sisters. She now belonged to the whole of God’s People.

When we look at her life in light of the Church readings for today, we see striking similarities: In the reading from Acts, the author states that the God set the world in motion with all of its complexities, beauty, demarcations and seasons. God gave life and breath to everything in order to help us recognize the closeness of God and to find in all things the clear image of God’s face. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples that the Spirit of truth will speak to them and reveal what Jesus has tried to live and that for which he died.

Julie Billiart saw the goodness of God, in her sunflowers and in her suffering. She also saw in her friendship with Francoise and, in the women who came to the young congregation, a profound glimpses of God’s goodness. She believed herself to be the unfinished word of God, evolving, acting and creating the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Her letters reveal a practical woman whose gaze was toward the yet unknown future. Julie’s gaze did not focus on a nostalgic past that was no longer. For Julie, chaos in those early days was a mystery and an instrument of God. It was the eve of creation, the making of a Notre Dame whose heart had to encompass the scope of the world and its people. Even when her heart was broken by the young deaths of so many of her first Sisters, she and our co-foundress, Françoise Blin de Bourdon did not focus on diminishment but rather looked ahead with confidence and hope. Together, they were courageous, daring and willing to take risks so that more and more people could experience the goodness of God.

Julie was straightforward in proclaiming the truth as she saw things and as she intuited God’s workings in her. Her sayings and instructions are insightful and candid both about the dynamics of human nature and the mysteries of God’s wisdom. As Julie’s daughters, we ask: What about us? Do we view our Notre Dame heritage as a finished product or an evolving moment in the history of creation? In whom and in what do we take delight?

What about all of us, as Christians? What fears cripple us and all people in these times of TRANSITION, violence and injustice? How bold and courageous are we to take risks and be willing to find ways in building God’s creation, in a world so desperate for glimpses of God’s goodness?



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