Feast of Blessed Maria Anna Blondin (April 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Maria Anne Blondin

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIA ANNE BLONDIN (APRIL 18, 1809-JANUARY 2, 1890)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne

Born Esther Blondin

Alternative feast day = January 2

Blessed Maria Anne Blondin was a saint whom the Roman Catholic Church marginalized then recognized as holy.

Esther Blondin, born at Terrebonne, Quebec, on April 18, 1809, came from an illiterate farming family.  Our saint, a daughter of Jean-Baptiste Blondin and Maria Rose Limoges Blondin, worked as the domestic servant of a village merchant when she was young.  The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame educated young Esther, who became a novice in the order yet had to abandon that plan, due to bad health.

Blondin became concerned about how best to reduce rates of illiteracy in her area.  In 1833 she began to teach at a parochial school in Vaudreuil.  Eventually our saint rose to lead that institution.  Blondin concluded that, in her geographical area, illiteracy was commonplace because only men could teach girls most effectively.  Therefore two parochial schools per parish were ideal.  However, some parishes were too poor to have even one parochial school, and many who could one did not have one.  Our saint founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne in 1850 for the purpose of teaching impoverished girls.

Blondin, unlike founders of many other religious orders, did not preside over her order for long.  She struggled with meddling by the chaplain, Father Louis Adolphe Marechal.  He lied about her, accusing our saint of financial mismanagement.  Marechal had Blondin demoted to Directress of the St. Genevieve Convent then recalled to the mother house in 1858.  At the mother house our saint endured many indignities.  She had to perform menial tasks.  Also, the sisters could not address her as “Mother,” for Marechal had imposed that rule.  Blondin endured all this for the good of the order and those it served.  She died of natural causes at Lachine, Quebec, on January 2, 1890.  She was 80 years old.

Eventually the Roman Catholic Church rehabilitated Blondin’s reputation.  Pope John Paul II declared her a Venerable in 1991 then a Blessed ten years later.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

So says an inaccurate chant.  According to ancient Jewish mythology, God spoke the universe into existence.  As bad as killing someone is, assassinating one’s character can be at least as bad.  One might think of people falsely accused of a crime–perhaps even convicted in a court of law–but certainly convicted in the court of public opinion.  As bad as this has always been, it is worse in a digital age, due to the accessibility of news stories (even partial and discredited ones) via websites.  In this digital age, old and inaccurate stories haunt people more than in previous times.  The timeless commandment against not bearing false witness becomes more urgent than ever.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 11, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NATHAN SODERBLOM, SWEDISH ECUMENIST AND ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA

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O God, by whose grace your servant Blessed Maria Anne Blondin,

kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Unity of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723

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