Prudence – Wisdom

The Servant of God heroically practiced prudence, because in all her life one cannot find any action having a purely human aim. Everything in her was orientated towards God, eternal salvation, sanctification, giving glory to God, and the salvation of souls. Her constant efforts tended towards the realization of this only goal.

Not trusting herself, from her earliest youth on, she turned to her wise and prudent spiritual guide, Father Reichard, searching for the light of truth and practical advice on how to behave. She had the great wisdom to keep him as her guide all her life, deeply convinced that God wanted it that way. In her inner pains, at the age of 17, having tried to find consolation from a different confessor, she very soon recognized her error and returned to Father Reichard. She followed in everything and always the directives of Bishop Raess. She recommended this prudence to her Daughters: “Oh, my children, if you could only understand how useful it is for you in temptations to immediately ask the advice of your Director or your Superiors and to obediently follow their advice.”The Servant of God had great fear of God. She was very sensitive to everything that could distort the purity of her conscience and her union with God. She immediately resorted to the direct and safest means: prayer, penitence, avoiding dangerous occasions. While working hard in the fields at the age of 14, she noticed that she had spent hours without remaining in the presence of God.
“After those first ten days, I remembered everything I had promised myself to do on the day of my First Communion, and I considered my half-heartedness. Then I was seized by fear and shame, which awake my zeal. I took recourse to the practice of penance.”
Father Reichard says: “Above all she asked the Queen of Virgins to keep the purity of her heart and she herself watched over this precious treasure with tender concern.” “…it is true that this angelic soul was never troubled by a single impure thought.”

Having constantly been fighting against her dominant fault, a certain violence of temper, she reached a remarkable sense of moderation and discretion, as many people who had approached her confirmed. She was right in her decisions because she always adjusted herself to the heavenly inspiration and the advice she received, for beginning as well as developing her work: constructions, foundation of houses, relations with authorities, choice and discernment of vocations. It is confirmed that though she was animated by ardent zeal, she was never seen doing anything with haste and hurry.

This moderation, this appropriateness of decisions came from her spirit of prayer, her union with God. Father Reichard says: “Fully convinced that she has to leave everything to God as far as her Congregation was concerned, she immersed herself through prayer into the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in order to ask everything of Him.”
She asked our Lord to show her His holy will with regard to the admission of the postulants […], she heard Lord’s answer: “My daughter, your prayer pleases me; always turn to me and leave everything to Me”.
That was just what the Servant of God did; her total surrender to God was nourished by her prayers.
She gave her Daughters this rule of conduct: “At the beginning of her occupations, the Sister of the Divine Savior must renew the good intention and have a right and pure intention in all undertakings; she must begin everything in the names of Jesus and Mary.” “Having taken your resolutions in the morning, offer them to our Lord at the moment of the Holy Sacrifice and ask of Him the graces you need in order to accomplish them. Receive, with the same intention, the Holy Communion that will be the seal and assurance of completion.”

Concerning the goal of her work, the physical and spiritual care of the poor and sick, the Servant of God recommended to her Daughters the same prudence, with these words of admirable wisdom: “My dear children, I want to provide you with an effective aid before going to the poor and the sick, in difficult situations without help, where you do not know how to begin. I recommend you place yourselves at the foot of the cross for a few minutes and pray: ‘Jesus, teach me what I have to do for this person; give me the appropriate means so that I may accomplish Your holy will for this poor or sick person. Oh Jesus, I will not leave You before You have answered me. I ask You to grant grace and mercy to this person’.
Then go with confidence. If I recommend you inner prayer, this will not hinder your action. On the contrary God will give you more clear-sightedness and discernment.”

The Servant of God knew how much effort she could ask of each one of her Daughters. She said to them: “It is good, especially at the beginning, to limit your resolutions to a short period so that you are not discouraged at the sight of a task, a constraint the duration of which could frighten a weak person or a novice.”

In the exercise of her functions, the Servant of God had the constant concern to ensure for her Daughters’ living conditions which allowed for the Rule to be observed, even more, for sufficient material conditions needed for a normal and effective accomplishment of their charitable works.
“It is my responsibility”, she said to a mayor, “to take care of the health of my Sisters. That is why I ask you to consider this and to take an interest in this house so that the Sisters have their living and clothing assured. That is what we ask wherever they are sent”.
And to a parish priest: “I seriously insist on my Daughters’ fulfilling the aim of their holy vocation, but at the same time I have the great concern that they should always have – as the Apostle says – the necessary food and clothing.”

Mother Alphonse Maria always knew how to combine work and prayer. Being a farmer’s daughter, she says in her autobiography about her first years: “Already at the age of five I liked working”.
As a young girl, she dedicated herself without neglecting her duties: the work in the fields. Working hard, she prayed and remained united with God. Thus she learned through experiences what she had to teach her Daughters, to lead an intensive life of prayer combined with hard work as demanded by the care for the poor and sick. Father Reichard could say: “She divided all her time between work and prayer, or she was rather praying constantly, even while she was working.”

She loved and practiced a perfect simplicity. Maybe that is what was most striking about her. Those who came to her were impressed by this trait. Father Reichard says: “The calm and simplicity with which she passes on the revelations give me strong proof of a direct influence of God.”
Bishop Raess says: “I recognized in her all the characteristics of a privileged soul, a wonderful purity of soul, a noble simplicity, sincerity in all respects and faith in all trials.”
Father Busson says: “The sincerity, uprightness, love of truth are the dominant characteristics of her personality.”
A priest says: “I had hardly entered her house, as I was impressed by the air of sincerity, whereas I had expected some of those playacting which you find with people who consider themselves favored by God. I could not find the slightest trace in her behavior, which free from any fuss, showed only gentleness and that noble humility which, in spite of all efforts, one cannot imitate.”

Above all concerned about guiding her Daughters on the way of perfection, she incessantly tried to warn them against anything that could lead them astray or retard their progress. She invited them to conversation with God: “If only it were given to me, my children, to induce in your hearts this attraction for familiar conversation with God! How happy would I be if I saw you making progress in such a beneficial knowledge, which is so easy to acquire and so agreeable to practice”.
She wrote in her Rule: “During the whole time that the Sisters spend with the sick, they may never get involved in useless conversation. Free time will be dedicated to prayer, to work or conversation which tend to bring glory to God and salvation for neighbor.”

The prudence of the Servant of God can be clearly seen especially in the reflection she made that it is absolutely necessary to maintain the single novitiate and the annual retreat of the Sisters in the Motherhouse, no matter what sacrifices there were to make, because she was convinced that this was a vital question for keeping the good spirit and the unity of all members. She struggled and suffered for preserving these two principles. It cost her the hard trial of the separation of the houses of Würzburg, Vienna, and Sopron, a trial which affected her health so much that she never recovered from it.