Most everyone is affected by the current financial strain. Unemployment rate is at 9.2% leaving many under or unemployed. Local businesses are closing, neighborhoods are sprinkled with houses for sale, and meeting minimal daily expenses is difficult. Americans find this situation hard to understand after living fairly comfortably the last few decades, but more often than not, people have worried about meeting their basic needs throughout history.
Saint Theodora certainly did. She required little for herself but she was responsible for “her daughters” – women in her community who called her “Mother” Theodore – and the children attending her schools, many of whom did not pay tuition. She needed capital to keep things running. Times were particularly difficult in 1842 after a fire destroyed the barns and granary. The sisters faced the onset of winter with no resources.
Urged by her bishop, Saint Theodora sailed back to France to beg for assistance from her motherhouse in Ruillé and the clergy there. But they were of little help. Although sympathetic, they too had their financial problems. After the expense of the trip to Europe, Saint Theodora found herself in an even more challenging position. Not only was she unable to get financial assistance for her American foundation and schools, she couldn’t pay the expenses she incurred in France or passage home for herself, her companion, Sister Mary Cecilia, and two postulants.
This must have been very stressful for Saint Theodora and yet her faith did not falter. She wrote to her mentor and friend, the Right Reverend J. B. Bouvier, Bishop of Le Mans. “However, I am not too much discouraged,” she wrote. “I see in all this the Will of God and I submit to it.”
Miraculously, assistance did come. Known for her generosity, Her Majesty the Queen of the French Maria Amalia donated the money needed for the four women to return home in addition to a “little extra.” The queen also sent money the following year that included donations she had solicited in addition to her own donation.
As I said above, concern for our daily bread is not new to humanity. Jesus often told disciples and followers not to worry. He said, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they and can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Matthew 6:27-28).
That sounds like easy advice but I myself have spent many a sleepless night worrying about the bills even though I fully realize worry gets me nowhere and I know that God will see me through it all. We may not have money to meet our wants, however most often; with perseverance and faith in the Lord our needs are met. Scripture tells us, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). As Saint Theodora did many times, we are to do what we can, pray, and then trust all will be well.
©Mary K. Doyle