November 22, 2014
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Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

Daughter of Jacques Barat, a cooper who worked with the vineyards. Naturally bright, she was educated by her older brother Louis, a monk. At the age of ten, France underwent its Revolution with its suppression of Christian schools. The education of the young, particularly young girls, was in a troubled state.

As Madeleine grew older, her brother feared she would be exposed to too much of the world, and so brought her to Paris with him. She wanted to be a Carmelite lay sister, but with Father Joseph Varin and three other postulants, she founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1801, who are devoted to the Sacred Heart, and dedicated to teaching girls. She became Superior General of the Society at age 23, and held the position for 63 years. Receiving papal approval of the Society in 1826, she founded 105 houses in many countries; Saint Rose Phillippine Duchesne and four companions brought the Society to the United States.

Mother Barat died in Paris. She was canonized on May 24, 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Her feast day is May 25th.

Resources

Society of the Sacred Heart History (International RSCJ website)

     More History (US-Canada RSCJ Website)

Saint Madeleine Sophie Prayers

Sophie's Laptop

Spirituality of St. Madeleine Sophie - Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ (Video Presentation)

Leadership Teams in the Network Schools- Presentation by Connie Solari, Atherton
     My PhiloSophical Vocation

Homily presented by Bishop Lori (Diocese of Bridgeport) at the 2006 graduation at Convent of the Sacred Heart - Greenwich

Sophie website (last updated 2006) -- yet full of information and resources

A Reading from Madeleine Sophie Barat

Madeleine Sophie Barat Booklet

Books on the Life of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

Madeleine Sophie Barat: A Life by Phil Kilroy

Saint Madeleine Sophie Foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart 1779 to 1865 by Maud Monahan

Madeleine Sophie Barat with Phil Kilroy (online)
     Click on My Own Vintage for a series of short readings with reflections

Sophie's Fire by Connie Solari, Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, CA

Quotes of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

Let us leave acts, not words. Nobody will have time to read us.
 
Prayer should be our support; the relief of our hope.
 
The Lord's mercy is eternal; eternal must be our confidence.
 
Any delay with God is a kind of denial.
 
We await all from the mercy of Jesus.
 
An abyss of blessings must draw forth an abyss of gratitude, fidelity and love.
 
Shouldn't we gratefully accept both good and bad as coming from the hand of God, for both are inclined to our advantage if we know how to profit from them.
 
We cannot change our character, it is true, as easily as we change our clothes. It is the work of a lifetime. It is achieved with the grace of God and constant effort.
 
How could one have peace which is the fruit of love of Jesus in the soul, as long as one is filled with self and has so little love for God, crucified and annihilated!
 
Is it not our blindness that deceives us without cease in all that pertains to ourselves? Thus let us often say to Jesus: Lord, that I may see!
 
Let us hand over all our cares to Jesus, praying that he will act for us. Then everything will take care of itself.
 
Pride scourges Jesus Christ; humility scourges the devil.
 
Repay our God love for love, heart for heart.
 
The Spirit is always speaking to us deep in our hearts, if only we listen.
 
Whenever assailed by humility, the devil loses his power. humility is like a plank in a flood. We cannot cling too tightly to this virtue.
 
Let us be kind without weakness, humble without groveling.
 
Jesus will supply for all that we lack if our confidence in his help is without limit.
 
Interior spirit compels us to let our living, breathing and doing be only in God.
 
And what is God? Supreme happiness. That is all.
 
Be humble, be simple, and bring joy to others.
 
Nothing blocks the spirit of God as much as a life of idleness.
 
Great hearts, generous hearts, are required in the family of God’s Heart, because the difficulties in the way of doing good increase day by day.
 
Aim unceasingly at becoming a soul of prayer.
 
How must we pray? With faith, with love, with earnestness.
 
Be faithful to the touch of the Holy Spirit upon your soul. The Holy Spirit when free, works marvels within us.
 
The work of interior transformation is necessary in order to become a fitting instrument in God’s hands, to work for God’s glory.
 
Interior life is the bond which binds together all other religious virtues and ensures the strength of the spiritual building.
 
Draw down the Holy Spirit by prayer, recollection and dependence on grace; with these dispositions God can work through you.
 
The union that the spirit of charity maintains in the family of God’s Heart is the well-spring of the good it does, and the source of its strength.
 
A virtue that characterized Saint Ignatius was union with God and prayer; it is from that union, the result of serious prayer, that one draws strength and light.
 
Courage and confidence! I cannot repeat this war-cry too often. We should make it our support in our life of conflict.
 
Love and desire with all your hearts that beautiful simplicity so pleasing to the Heart of Jesus, which banishes all pretence and dissimulation, keeps at a distance all the silly cunning of self-love, chooses always the most straightforward and obvious line of conduct, leads us to deal with our neighbor without pretension or constraint, without affectation and without guile, but with modest ease and sincere and cordial affection.
 
We can only save souls if we are founded in charity, the bond of hearts. If charity grows weak, all the means we employ will fail. The Heart of Jesus recognizes as his own those who put in practice his chosen commandment.
 
A person who is long nourished on prayer and union with God has great resources, especially if there is a loving heart.
 
Our one passion should be the love of Christ and the desire to make Him loved.
 
Go to the Heart of Jesus and draw from it, and when you need more, go back to the Source and draw again.
 
Make prayer your delight; there find your rest and your happiness.
 
Unfailing gentleness with all, patience in bearing annoyances which arise in every direction, trust in God which does not allow us to doubt God’s protection on any occasion that we fear: these are the fruits of fidelity to the Holy Spirit.
 
The mission of the Spirit is to let us know Jesus…the Holy Spirit, once free, accomplishes miracles, and we would be wrong not to give the Spirit room.
 
Let your heart be more attentive than your head, for the Holy Spirit is love, and to take hold, it is more important to love than to understand.
 
Deliver yourself to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit; make yourself as a tool that offers no resistance to the handling of the artisan.
 
Let us pray insistently to the divine Spirit to come to renew our hearts and make us understand Jesus Christ and the way to go to him…Convinced of our need for the help of the Spirit, let us not cease asking for it with ‘sighs too deep for words’ as Saint Paul says.
 
Education must be concerned not only with studies, but also with whatever may be required for the right ordering of life and requirements of cultivated society.
 
Let us respect childhood; let us honor the soul of that small creature of God who can already make choices of the best if we take the time to awaken her reason and make her use her judgment.
 
It is all very well to lay the foundation of solid virtue, but only the union of virtue with learning will give our work its perfection.
 
You have been chosen to a kind of apostleship: a mission that is great, noble and divine. Great, because it embraces the universe, noble because by it souls are raised to God, divine, because it comes forth from God.
 
I am overwhelmed with love in thinking that this is the mission of the Society – and I have to spend my time in administration.
 
For the sake of one child, I would have founded the Society.
 
What is needed for winning parents and children is to be busy about them, at their service from morning to night; to forget oneself and enter into what concerns the children, body and soul; to listen to them with interest; to console and to encourage them; finally to sacrifice for them everything except one's soul; and become for their sakes gentle, patient, indulgent, in one word, a mother.
 
Give only good example to the children; never correct them when out of humor or impatient. We must win them by an appeal to their piety and to their hearts. Soften your reprimands with kind words; encourage and reward them. That is, in short, our way of educating.
 
In this struggle concerning education, the Heart of Jesus asks us not for our blood, but for our minds. We must strengthen our studies by intellectual work.
 
With the pupils keep an even tone, both gentle and firm. Show them by the care with which you help them to advance along every line for which you are responsible, that you care for their interests alone, and that you want to help them to acquire a solid and pious education, enhanced by learning, and thus make them happy.
 
It is all very well to lay the foundations of solid virtue, but only the union of virtue with learning will give our work its perfection.
 
With the pupils... show them that you want to help them accquire a solid and pious education, enhanced by learning, and thus make them happy.
 
The Spirit of Jesus, who always inhabits an interior person united to the divine Heart, will enable us to know exactly what to say, to decide or to advise.
 
Jesus emptied himself to the point of taking human nature in order to raise it to the height of divinity. Even the coldest heart could not possibly fail to feel a little love for this God who becomes our companion and shares our worries, our sorrows, our labors.
 
“The will of the Father is that you bear much fruit, fruit that will last.” Jesus speaks these words to all those called, like the apostles, to a more perfect life and to a mission. These words, therefore, concern us. We must not only produce fruit in ourselves but also in those confided to us and in those with whom we have relationships.
 
We must not be blind to the fact that in these times of activity in which we live, demands are made upon us and obstacles rise so that certain modifications and a certain perfectioning become indispensable.... Education, is no longer what it was a few years ago; the multiplication of institutions which follow the trends of the times make us seem behind. God forbid that we should wish to compromise with duty and sacrifice our principal end to these tendencies, but we must again examine what we can accord and review our Plan of Studies to modify and complete it.
 
We must know how to inspire in our pupils a passion for the beautiful. Let us put history into their souls; without that, memories will fade and we shall have wasted our time. In seeing the empires that rise and fall one after the other, they will perhaps learn to rise above their own troubles. They will thus better understand the sic transit gloria mundi, and their hearts, disillusioned with what is nothing, will be more strongly drawn to Him who alone remains in the midst of so many ruins
 
In this struggle concerning education the Heart of Jesus asks from us not our blood but our minds. We must strengthen our studies by intellectual work. There is no question of flight from this task. The directors of Institutions-Catholic, Roman, and apostolic-tell us, poor women who are authorized by the Church to teach, that we must hold our own, and then measure ourselves against the University.
 
Let your classical methods cause faith to speak to reason in future teachers of our boarding schools and free schools. It is not here a question of memory, except to lay up a good store of it; it is a question of discernment, of application of religious principles. We must be busy with these things in order to respond fitly to the mission implied in our vow.
 
Women and children must have some knowledge of current errors and form their own judgments in light of Christianity, in order to conform intelligently to the enlightened teaching of the Church. The hour has come when we must give reason for our faith. Let our teachers be trained to reason that our pupils may learn to do so.
 
Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world.
 
Even though you have fallen a thousand times in one day, if in the evening you stand up again on your two feet, you may sing of victory.
 
I long to help you bear your burden, and it would make me so happy if i could in any way make it sweeter. All of us have difficulties and trials, and God means us to make these lighter for others by our interest and loving concern.
 
Great hearts, generous hearts, are required in the family of God's Heart, because the difficulties in the way of doing good increase day by day.
 
...watch over the children. One of them wrote recently that she was bored,because discipline and piety were on the wane. How is this happening? You know children need to be held kindly and with courtesy no doubt, but this does not mean relaxing order, silence, obedience, respect for the mistresses. When these go, so does piety, for duty and fear are its foundation. To succeed, you must be sure that you and the Mistress General and the other mistresses, understand each other perfectly so that you all work along the same lines as far as possible.
 
What is the good of teaching various subjects, of wasting time in learning them, if at the same time we cannot teach children the words of life and touch their hearts and their consciences?
 
Your little Blessed Virgin isn't half-bad. When I go the tribune I often turn aside to look at her. She is of the same age as our children and speaks to me of the youth to whom I have vowed my life.
    St. Madeleine Sophie Barat to Pauline Perdrau, RSCJ
 
It is not merely for our own sakes that we should try to become interior souls; we should have constantly before our eyes the children who will come to claim spiritual help from us, help that without prayer we shall never be able to give them.
 
You know that the greatest treasure is the cross. A large portion of it is reserved for you....You will have those crosses which come from yourself; but you will sometimes have others no less painful. These are, you will say, gloomy predictions; Yes, for nature, but precious in the order of grace.
 
Make yourself familiar with these teaching methods, then see with them whether we should adopt them at any rate for the slower children. One of the ecclesiastical dignitaries of the town told me the other day that he had found a method of teaching a young man to write in 20 lessons, to read in half that number and to get hold of the elements of Arithmetic; and this was a young man so devoid of intelligence that until now he has been unable to learn the alphabet or to write a word. Perhaps we could adapt this method to our plan of studies especially for spelling in which in general we show up very badly. I must own that our children seem to do less well in this than many others from small schools or day-schools. This reputation has done us no good but has lost us many pupils. I have said this consistently at our councils but without success as people are afraid of what they call "innovations". This is a shortsighted point of view and I hope that people will have second thoughts on the matter.
 
I can see from your letter that you have begun to understand and appreciate virtue: not just in your imagination but in your heart. You realize now that holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things nor in feeling love or any emotion, but in becoming simple, unnoticed, docile like a child. Be zealous for the good of souls but without great effort of mind. Believe that others can achieve results and that we must be happy to help and take second place. It has cost you so much to reach this stage! You kept crying out: "Peace, peace!" But peace is only found in a simple and humble heart and yours was so full of yourself! Our hearts are only happy in utter simplicity; yours will only be content, if your throw out all these conflicting desires which are destroying its peace. Be wise and good henceforth and learn from your experience.
 
Let us fix our eyes on the crucifix in every difficult moment and that gaze will renew our courage.
 
Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us, then we will act on the Spirit’s gentle inspiration. Let us accustom ourselves to walking in these divine paths, following grace and not nature. When we go too fast it is easy to be influenced by the second. Ah! It is a great art to act only by the Spirit of Jesus.
 
Unfailing gentleness with all, patience in bearing annoyances which arise in every direction, trust in God which does not allow us to doubt God’s protection on any occasion that we fear; these are the fruits of fidelity to the Holy Spirit.
 
Above all, get in the habit of thinking about God.
 
Mother Barat had stipulated that newcomers were not to be served sensible food like carrots but given what they wanted at no matter what trouble to the kitchen. This child demanded "potatoes that open with butter inside." While the potatoes disappeared Mother Perdrau let her talk about home, then led her to the best dormitory and tucked her into bed. The child hugged her pillow happily, then suddenly threw her arms around Mother Perdrau. "Why do you love me so much? You’ve never seen be before!
    Saint Madeleine Sophie: Her Life and Letters,
    Margaret Williams, RSCJ Pg. 520
 
I assure you that I have taken a firm resolution and I hope to engrave it profoundly on my soul during the retreat which I am just beginning: I want to refuse God nothing. But that’s not enough; I want to go before God’s will and embrace it no matter what it is. May God help my weakness. (Nov. 1810)
    Mother Barat wrote to Mother Duchesne
 
What times we live in! We have two extremes before our very eyes: the view of unbridled luxury which swallows up wealth and yields instant pleasure. And alongside those crazy expenses, there are thousands, I ought to say millions, of people of every class and every age and of every condition, who are dying of hunger
 
Hard work, dangerous for an imperfect soul, brings a great harvest for those who love the Lord.
 
The times in which we live call for fervor, fidelity and generosity. The heart’s best security is to trust in God alone.
 
This little Society is entirely consecrated to the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to the spread of His worship: such is the end which all those who become members must propose to themselves.