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Posts Tagged ‘Feast Day’

Saint Julie Billiart is the spiritual mother of the Sisters of Notre Dame, since she was not living when the religious order began, but the order is based on her spirituality and teachings. She was born on July 12, 1751; died on April 8, 1816; and was canonized on June 22, 1969.

Marie Rose Julie Billiart (as she was baptized) was born in the French village of Cuvilly during the French Revolution.  Even as a young child, Julie’s love for the good God was apparent to all who knew her. She told bible stories and taught about Jesus to neighboring children.

As a young woman several things happened to her and her family which left them in poverty and traumatized her in such a way that she was paralyzed and had difficulty speaking. In spite of these physical handicaps, Julie served God by preparing children for their First Communion. She offered spiritual guidance to adults who came to her because of her wisdom, goodness and love of God, even in the midst of all her suffering.

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With her friend, Francoise Blin de Bourdon, Julie, then 53 years old, began a religious community of sisters: the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.  These women wanted to follow Julie and Francoise in their dedication to God, their spreading of the message that God is good, and their work teaching poor children. Julie was still paralyzed when a priest asked her to pray for an unknown special intention. This special intention was Julie’s cure, so after 23 years of being paralyzed, Julie began to walk. She was able then to travel to all the places her sisters were in order to help them become sisters and teachers. She wrote many letters and made many journeys to her sisters until she died in 1816.

Two other religious communities of sisters were founded after Julie Billiart died that are also called Sisters of Notre Dame. Their way of living as sisters and relating to God comes from Saint Julie Billiart. One of these religious communities is the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld, Germany, and they eventually came to the United States and became the congregation we know today.

Prayer from the Mass of Saint Julie

Almighty and eternal God, you called Saint Julie Billiart to respond joyfully to the love of your crucified Son in dedicating herself to the education of the poor. Grant that her prayer and example may inspire us to respond with love to His Cross, in serving the needs of others with true goodness of heart. Amen.

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The Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord to Mary recalls the angel, Gabriel, coming to the young woman, Mary, to ask her if she would be the mother of God’s Son, Jesus. The Catholic Church celebrates this feast on March 25 each year, nine months before the birth of Jesus.

The feast is important to all of us as an example. Mary, a young person, so in tune with God in her life, responds with an important “Yes” to God’s request to be the mother of his Son. Mary said: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” As a young woman preparing for her marriage to Joseph, Mary did not know how this would happen, what this child would be like, what Jesus’ future would be, or what all this would mean for her and Joseph’s life together. And yet she could say “yes” to God. She modeled for us great faith and trust.

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It is a very important day for all Sisters of Notre Dame. Notre Dame means Our Lady so the sisters are, in a unique way, Sisters of Our Lady.  They chose the Annunciation their congregational feast because they want to model their lives after Mary’s by being open and ready to say “yes” to whatever God asks of them.

Today, let us pray for all the Sisters of Notre Dame that they continue to listen to God and say “yes” to whatever God asks of them. Let us pray for ourselves, our family members and our friends, that we may be open and ready to say “yes” when God asks something of us, even if we don’t understand.

Let us think about these words of the angel, Gabriel, as we say:

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

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