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How the Eucharist fueled St. Frances Cabrini’s missionary heart

Frances Cabrini

Lawrence OP | Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/13/21

St. Frances' devotion to the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart gave her the strength to minister to the needs of the poor.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was a remarkable religious sister who worked tirelessly for poor American immigrants. She started schools, hospitals and orphanages wherever she went, a true pioneer in the United States.

Yet, she did not rely on her own strength to perform such wonderful deeds, but on the strength she found in the Sacred Heart and in her times of prayer before the Eucharist.

St. John Paul II commented on this aspect of her life in a Message to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in 2000.

Her extraordinary activity — as you well know — drew its strength from prayer, especially from long periods before the tabernacle. Christ was everything to her. Her constant concern was to discern his will in the directives of the Church’s Magisterium and in the events of life themselves. 

In particular, she had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Mother Cabrini’s tireless apostolic work was more and more inspired by her desire to bring salvation to all, and in a hurry. She used to say: “The Heart of Jesus does things in such a hurry that I can barely keep up with him.”

He expanded on this part of her spirituality in another letter in 2002.

[S]he dedicated to bringing Christ’s love to all those, far from their homeland and family, who risked drifting apart from God as well. She would often repeat to her daughters: “Let us imitate the charity of the adorable Heart of Jesus in the salvation of souls, let us make ourselves everything to everyone to win them all for Jesus, as he himself continues to do”, and again: “O Jesus, if only I could open my arms wide and embrace the whole world to give it to you. Oh! How happy I should be!”.

St. John Paul II ended his first letter with a simple statement to the religious order Mother Cabrini founded, reminding them of where they should find their strength.

May the celebration of the Holy Year 2000 and the providential anniversaries you are commemorating be beneficial occasions for each member of the institute to grow in fidelity and love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May each of you often repeat throughout your lives these words of the Apostle which were so dear to your holy foundress: “Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat — I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Phil 4: 13). 

If you want to do great things for God, do not rely on your own strength, but on the strength of God.

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