Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin
Clothed in the Word of God: Canadian Saints, Blessed and Venerables. Conceived and written by Rene Bourdon and Pierre Guenette. 157 pages. Novalis.
This surprising book introduces the reader to 24 of Canada's saints, blessed and venerable people. Many we already know. Many we have never even heard of.
It's a voyage of discovery, taking us back to the early beginnings of those being profiled. It's not all sweetness and roses for many, and that too opens one's eyes.
Many suffered ill health. So many died so young. So many suffered the politics of the Church. Yet they gave their lives to their faith and their Church.
The vignettes are both attractive and accessible. This is a book to be used as a starting point for the reader's own further investigation. It also has instructions on how to use the book as a group. (Included is a page explaining the canonization process.)
Venerable Anthony Kowalczyk
For each person whose story is told, there is an evocative etching. All are graceful and appealing. A biographical sketch of the person is followed by a prayer, relevant Scripture passage, Vatican II, catechism, vignettes about the good they have done, followed by where you can learn more about them - books, films, websites.
This is an artistically attractive missive which, upon close examination, turns out to be a textbook.
As mentioned previously, many stories tell the truth, no matter how hurtful.
Example. Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin came from a poor family in Quebec. Named Esther as a child, she learned to read while working as a servant to the Notre-Dame Sisters. She wanted to be a novitiate but left because of ill health. Still determined to serve, she opened a school for the boys and girls of the poor.
Companions joined Esther and so the congregation of Sisters of Saint Anne was born. A motherhouse was established in 1853 and the chaplain Father Marechal became more involved in the community.
Twenty years later, he demoted Mother Marie-Anne to menial tasks like washing laundry.
When a novice asked how she could abide doing such a lowly task, she replied "The deeper a tree sinks its roots into the soil, the greater are the chances of growing and bearing fruit."
Not all stories bear such sorrow, but all are frank in the strength and courage of the forerunners of the Church in Canada.