The good Lord rewards all that we have done for His glory.
(Blessed Mother Assunta’s letter to the Provincial Superior, April 23, 1932)
When we look back upon the journey by which the institute has navigated throughout its 125 years of existence, it is highly relevant to underline the countless battles it overcame to claim its unique identity, aware of the significant role of our dear Blessed Mother Assunta. She was comparable to a fearless warrior-disciplined, quick and clever. However, it was her heroic courage that shines above all. We call her a heroin because she lived a life of constant battle. On the occasion of her 150th years of birth, it is worth celebrating and reminiscing the remarkable deeds she has done for us and for the congregation.
Straight from the heart
Blessed Mother Assunta was a strong and virtuous person but the most prominent virtue that would definitely define her personality was the virtue of courage. So much so that she was called A Brave Woman! She was never intimidated to face life’s challenges. She was an epitome of a combatant disciple who followed the example of her Master-Jesus. Blessed Assunta evidently drew her strength and inspiration from Jesus who is present in the Eucharist which she spent countless hours in adoration, placing herself in total surrender and trust in its Sacred Heart.
What is courage?
Love for Jesus and love for the institute fueled her heroic courage. Indeed, she lived out the true meaning of the word “courage” which accordingly derives from the ancient root word cor, which in Latin refers to the heart, a symbol of love. Another Latin word, fortitudo (from which we derive the cardinal virtue of fortitude) which brings out the strength that courage must possess. Hence, courage must possess both strength and love at the same time. Courage is fueled by love. Therefore, “Courage” without love is simply not courage because courage is more than just overcoming fears as it is commonly understood. It is the mean between cowardice and brashness. Further, St. Thomas Aquinas assertions on the virtue of courage enable us to perceive the disposition of a courageous person in the midst of trials and difficulties. He argued that the ‘moral virtue of courage is not an aggressive disposition to attack but a disposition to suffer like the martyrs.’ To suffer for Christ is an indication of a true discipleship, of obtaining true holiness which we are all called to be, “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” Evidently, Blessed Mother Assunta’s life was marked with constant suffering. She may not have suffered martyrdom by shedding the blood but the humiliation, oppositions and pains she endured thus, equates. Consequently, she was proclaimed “Blessed!”
Courage is the attribute of those who have faith. By faith, ‘the person freely commits her or his entire self to God.’ (CCC 1814) The person becomes bold in standing up for the truth of his/her faith. “A life in the truth of Christ makes him bold” stated St. John Chrysostom. The Apostles’ boldness though unlearned, their strong convictions came from their being filled with the Spirit of God. Same can be said about Blessed Assunta. Her faith conviction drove her to embark on the tumultuous journey of discipleship. Filled with God’s Spirit, she opened herself to the possibilities of suffering for Christ as well as perceiving the blessings it entailed. Confident that she will reap the copious reward in the end. Her statement also echoed the scripture passage, “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24; see also 2 Corinthians 3:12).
During this unprecedented time, Blessed Mother Assunta’s words continue to resound in us as we face our own battles. We are called to be courageous and faithful in responding to the complexity of our current context, especially in the world of human mobility which is pushing us to be bolder in serving the most vulnerable migrants and refugees. Witnessing to the Gospel, today, is a call to sail against the tide, to become a protagonist of the culture of life and encounter. The culture of encounter (which we are called to be specialist) “means that we, as a people, should be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone. This becomes an aspiration and a style of life. The subject of this culture is the people.” (Fratelli Tutti, no. 216). Now more than ever, we are called to fight the culture of indifference, hate and racism which at times disheartening. Nevertheless, our courage and confidence come from the Lord who keep us in his loving heart.
Lord Jesus, exemplar Son of the Father,
as we sail through this life and when
tempest rocks our boat, grant us the grace of courage
to remain firm and faithful in witnessing to the truth.
May Blessed Assunta
whom you blessed with the heroic virtue of courage
intercede for us to welcome all adversities with firmness and grace.
Increase in us the desire to love and serve you
through the most vulnerable migrants and refugees.
Hoping that one day we may obtain the copious
reward of our labor and reach the shore of victory.
We ask all this in your mighty name. Amen.
By: Sr. Roschelle Isada, MSCS