Caught Up in Kulturkampf

 

 

kulturBedridden for months by another attack of asthma, the doctor recommendd a change of air for Mother Frances, and she finally acquiesed to the urging of a benefactor to go to Lourdes. 

“Either I will be cured or I will die.”  Slowly, her strength and health returned – and just in time.  Political unrest returned again, this time between Germany and France. 

The Sisters again went to the battlefields to alleviate the distress of the wounded and dying in field hospitals, and tended to both physical and spiritual needs.

1800th century liberalism, changing social times, rationalism and new scientific discoveries sowed unrest in the relationship between church and State; and by 1872, the State tried to shed every shred of church influence. 

All church institutions were now to be submited to State supervision.  From 1874 on, according to the Kulturkampf (culture battle), marriages must be celebrated in civil registry offices, schools were run by the government, many religious communities were banished or disbanded, and priests and bishops were subjected to police surveillance.

Mother Frances continued to struggle to maintain the independence of the Congregation, but one after the other, the care of women and girls, the visits to prisoners, and begging for alms for the soup kitchen, had to be stopped. 

In the midst of all these external challenges, Mother Frances was reelected Superior General.  Though she implored the Archbishop to relieve her of the burdens of the office, he refused.   In a dream, Sr. Johanna, her former assistant who died a year earlier, reassured her – “Accept the office; it will not last much longer.”  Now at peace, she agreed.

For Silent Reflection and Journaling:

Political chaos seems to be the norm for the late 1800th century.  How does it affect your spirit of prayer and sacrifice as you reflect on the political, ecclesial and social situations in your own country and the world?
What part do dreams (when asleep or awake) play in your own discernment process?

 

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