Posted December 15, 2010:
Catherine’s Faith

by Réjeanne George.

"You must be before you do." These are the first words I remember hearing Catherine speak. They were strong words, powerful words, words that penetrated to the marrow of my soul.

The 1950s were Catholic Action days. The lay apostolate was very important to the life of the Church. I sensed that B’s words addressed what seemed to be lacking: being before doing.

I don’t remember asking myself how one was to go about this "being." But I knew that it somehow had to do with learning to stand still and silent in one’s inner being.

Did I hear her speak these words in western Canada when I attended her lecture or when I stopped at Madonna House en route to the national meetings of the Young Christian Workers? Possibly it was when I was at summer school in Madonna House, not knowing at the time that it was there that God was calling me.

Every day Catherine would speak to us during spiritual reading after lunch and often in the evening she would give us lectures. She would also come and work with us in the various work departments.

I envied her gift of seeing God’s presence in every big and little thing and at every moment. I wanted that gift.

She seemed to simply know that "every bush is ablaze with God," that figuratively speaking, one should constantly "take off one’s shoes for the place is holy," because every encounter, every moment of every day is imbued with the presence of the Lord. It seemed so easy for her.

Then one day Fr. Brière pointed out to me that Catherine spoke more often about faith than anything else because there lay her greatest struggle!

I began to realize that the gift of faith can only continue to exist and grow if it is exercised. I began to realize more deeply that for her, every moment, every decision, was a call to listen to the Spirit.

And I learned that I, too, was called to walk in faith, to listen to the Spirit, to wait on God, and at times to agonize.

As I look back on the wonderful 53 years I have spent in this Madonna House family, I can only marvel at what Catherine’s faith created: the Madonna House Training Center, St. Joseph’s House (which works in the local area), the farm, St. Mary’s community, and 18 mission houses (each with its own outreach).

And each of these houses is called to always concretely live in and by faith—begging, begging, begging, not only for its spiritual needs but for all its material needs as well. And in the process, many people have become part of what faith has built. For it takes faith to give as well as to receive.

To witness over the years what has happened through Catherine’s choice to live by faith has been to witness an ongoing miracle.


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