Gratitude is Enough

22 Nov

“If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you,
that would suffice.”
~ Meister Eckhart

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The Blessing of Marital Monotony

13 Nov

“The book of love is long and boring.”
~ Stephin Merritt

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Death Prep (Part 2): What We Must Do, What We Ought to Do

6 Nov

“I will then prepare myself for that hour,
and I will take all possible care to end this journey happily.”
~ St. Frances de Sales

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Death Prep (Part 1): What It Is, What We Can’t Do

1 Nov

“Death can be very beautiful…if we make it so.”
~ Ven. Solanus Casey

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The Giddy Appeal of Humanae Vitae

27 Oct

You don’t need a pope or an ecumenical council to tell you
what the Bible clearly teaches.

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Of Pericopes, Susanna, and the Long Form of Our Lives

23 Oct

“We can’t hope to know others as we should like to, but we should make it our business to know them as well as we can.”
~ Dom Hubert van Zeller

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Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel (1830-1905)

19 Oct

Toward the back of the Franciscan Sisters’ hilltop property in Mishawaka, Indiana, there’s a life-size bronze statue of their foundress situated near blooming flowers. “Mother always wanted the sisters to have a garden,” says Sr. Rose Agnes of Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel, “and she herself regularly prayed the Rosary in a garden.”

Accordingly, the sculpture features a Rosary spread out in Mother’s lap, but there’s another, more memorable feature: The Blessed’s gentle grin. It might seem insignificant, but it’s a telling artistic detail. “As we pray, so we live,” Bonzel used to say, “and as our life, so our prayer.” The joy evinced in that bronze grin not only marked Bl. Maria Theresia’s life and prayer, but her astounding legacy as well.

Born in Olpe, Germany, in 1830, Aline Bonzel had a comfortable upbringing rooted in her parish and eucharistic devotion. Sent to study in Cologne with the Ursulines, Aline found the sisters’ life appealing, and her own religious calling took shape.

Although illness and her mother’s initial resistance delayed that aspiration, Aline persevered by taking incremental steps, including membership in the Franciscan Third Order (where she adopted the name Maria Theresia) and a private vow of chastity.

Once her health improved and her mother consented, Maria Theresia joined with likeminded friends to care for Olpe’s orphans. Such were the humble origins of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration which was founded in 1863 with Maria Theresia as their first superior.

Bonzel’s foresight ensured that the numerous young women attracted to her ebullient congregation received sound formation, but also a proper education. “Let us joyfully spend…our strength in the service of God,” she wrote, and the sisters indeed had a far-reaching impact through their teaching and healthcare apostolates. Nonetheless, their first commitment was always to constant eucharistic prayer.

The 1870s ushered in an official effort to undermine Catholic influence in Germany, yet under Mother’s bold leadership, the community emerged from the persecution intact. What’s more, the coterie of sisters she sent to Indiana during this period flourished beyond all expectations. When Blessed Maria Theresia died in 1905, she left behind some 1,500 heirs throughout Germany and North America.

Today, this joy-filled community continues to attract young postulants around the world, and many of them happily attended the beatification of their spiritual mother in Germany in 2013.
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A version of this story originally appeared in Franciscan Magazine, Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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