The Holy Life of St. Euphrasia and the Message That Gives to the Society of Today.
“You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy and I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine.” Rev.20:26.
A saint is God’s masterpiece. Saints bring greater glory of God. The saints. Of flesh and blood as we are did suffered, fully responded to the grace of their Christian calling. They are for the world lightening conductors, mediators and models.
A call to Holiness: “Holiness is within the reach of everyone”. (St. Francis Sales). Holiness is the English derivative of the Hebrew word ‘qds’ and the greek word ‘Lagos’, both meaning “to set apart”. “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of life and to the perfection of love, and by this holiness a more human manner of life is fostered also in early society”.-LG.40. Every country, every epoch, every walk of life, every age group has had its saint. It is the time, to have the first saint Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart.
Holiness was the first maxim that lead saint Euphrasia , she willed for that and today she become the first saint of the Congregation of the Mount Carmel.
1. The Sprout of the seed of Vocation
“The seeds fell on the good soil and brought forth grain some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty” Mt.13:8. For St. Euphrasia, the good soil was Eluvuthinkal house along with her parents Cherpukaran Antony& Kunjethi and grandmother. Her mother Kunjethi taught her well i.e., watered her with love of god, devotion and virtues. Rose (baptism name of Euphrasia) offered her virginity at the age of nine was clear evidence that her parents had nurtured in her all that need to live a holy Christian life. She was a very pious and order, modest etc (from the letter of Rev. Mother Anjes). Rosa longed earnestly to become a nun and to give her life only to Jesus. On 10th January 1898 she received the religious habit from Bishop John Menachery. She lived her Christian call or the Religious call to holiness in the most exemplary manner but in a hidden way.
2. Everyday Mysticism
Saint Euphrasia found god in the midst of ordinary human experience. She designed to become an ‘unknown saint’. She says in letter17, “god has called me… not merely to lead a good life but to a most virtues life so as to become a saint…” She was responding her call to holiness from her young age. She went on war herself to acquire the virtues she loved most; obedience, humility, poverty and holiness. She tried not to waste any occasion to practice a virtue. She was specially favored with many mystical experiences. She had a close union with Jesus her “Heavenly spouse” who gifted her wedding ring. Among the 74 found letters she had written nine of them to mention about her mystical union with Jesus her Heavenly spouse. Therefore St. Euphrasia was a saint who could find god everyday and everywhere also in everyone.
3. Sanctuary Lamp
In the Churches a lamp is lit before the sanctuary to significe the presents of god. Saint Euphrasia was such a lamp who spent her time before the Lord, who burnt for the love of god to desnel the pains from the suffering brethren. Numerous sisters and people have said their testimony in the book ‘Daivadasi Euphrasiamma’ by sanjose. They have seen always this saintly mother who sat in corns of the convent chapel with a moving Rosary in hand. She responded to the invitation of the Lord “to be with him”(Mk.3:14)and “come to me…”(Mt.11:28). Thus she chose the‘better part’ like Mary in the Gospel .She heard the cry of the Lord “I thirst”. She shared the passion of the Lord – (letter64). Letters 9, 10, 16,26,27,55, are saying about how Euphrasia was longing to share the passion of the Lord. Although this holy Mother sat in a corner of the Chapel, her prayers reached out to all corners of our Lord.
4. True Daughter of the Church.
“Be children of the church! Be children of the church”- St. Elizabeth Anne Saton!
As our Mother church is holy, she invites all her children into holiness. Mother Euphrasia indeed heard this call and responded faithfully; she truly kept the words of St.Teresa of Avila, as her guide lines, ‘I am proud to be a Daughter of the Church”. She gave great respect to the Bishops, priest and prayed for them. The problems, schismo, threats that the church faced was a pain for her. She did great mortifications, sacrifices and penance to save and protect the church from all dangers and evils. “I am praying specially for the schismaties”/ letter40. Also we have letters 22,40,41,42 concerns about the church. Beside this she had great zeal for the salvation of souls.
4.1 Zeal for Souls
St. Euphrasia was a saint who was a friend of the three churches. Church militant, church suffering and church Triumphant. Euphrasia had never gone out to preach the gospel, but the fragrance of her sanctity was known to all people around. And they came to her for asking prayers… Mother Euphrasia welcomed all who came to her with a smile. She assured the hope, suggested them to pray some small ejaculations, or Rosary and she too did pray and did penance for their sake. Thus she gave consolation to all sorts of people.
Mother Euphrasia was a consolation for the souls in purgatory. “It is our duty as Christians to pray for the souls in purgatory” (ccc1030). Many souls came to her asking her prayers for them. She prayed did sacrifice and penance for them, and they ever came in glory to thank her for the prayers. A number of letters speak about the souls in purgatory.
5 .A Genuine Daughter of CMC
“Be holy and lead others to holiness”- Yes the holy mother Euphrasia lived the Charism in a most faithful way. There is a saying “If you key, the rules the rules will keep you”. So also it fulfilled in this humble daughter of St. Chavara and Fr. Leopold. Because she was leading a model life in community, Euphrasia was given in charge of the novices for nine years. Her simplicity, humility charity and obedience were so impressive to others and they give testimony that ‘how her life was a motivation and inspiration indeed’. She fulfilled a desire of her founder St.Chavara, “the church in Kerala has become barren because she doesn’t have any saints”. Truly she was an answer for his pain.
6. Prayer Life
For St.Euphrasia prayer was her life and her life was a prayer indeed. “Let the Holy Family reign in your hearts…” these last wish of the Holy founder was a reality in the life of Euphrasia. She was longing for the presence of god. She did everyone of her action to please god and for the love of him. She did everything for Jesus, with Jesus her “Heavenly Spouse”. All who have met her have seen and witnessed: A sister who spent all her time in the chapel by praying the Rosary and looking at Jesus in the Tabernacle and on the Cross.
6.1 Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The name ‘Sr. Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart itself was an expression of her deep love to the Holy heart of Jesus. Euphrasia began and ended her day by praying before the statue of the Sacred Heart which she herself placed in the parlor when she was the superior of the house. She often repeated this little prayer ‘To love you where from will I get a big heart?”. “ My Holy Redeemer, whenever you are rejected in human hearts, come and dwell in my heart”. Truly she was burnt with the love of Jesus.
6.2 Devotion to Mary
“Come to the foot of the alter, there graces will pour upon all who ask for it”. There were told by Mother Mary when she appeared to St.Catherine Laboure on 18th July 1830. And Mary revealed there at first time that she is the Immaculate – “O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to you”. We see in mother Euphrasia that she truly heard the voice of Mary she and she had special devotion to the Immaculate Mary (letter29, pg.124). She had a special affection to Mary. She called her as “My Mother:. Mother Mary was coming to her from the age of nine onwards. Many times Mary has come closer to her many times in person. Mother Mary even came a companion to pray the Rosary along with St.Euphrasia. She has mentioned about 25 times in her letters. At one sitting praying the 153 beeds was usual with this Blessed Nun.
7. Fiat-Obedience to the will of God.
Saint Euphrasia’s practice of humility, obedience and surrendering to the will of god was great. She said “there is great joy and contententment in my heart to do things under obedience”. Mother Euphrasia used to pray often “O my god! Fulfill in me your holy will perfectly till death”. She could find the will of god, from the long time that she spent time in prayer before the Lord. Every day and at every moment Euphrasia found the will of God and found great joy in doing this holy will. The best example is the Jubilee memento words from Holy Euphrasia “Eternal Father, I offer you myself a holocaust to love in order that your holy will and desire be perfectly fulfilled in all things”. When she was faced with adversaries in her family she was not distressed but trusted in Lord and reminded her brother “Even though we face of decrease in money but never should decrease in virtue”. With a thirst to do god’s will of god and to practice the virtue of humility. Mother Euphrasia was even ready to kiss the feet of her novice. These examples prove that Mother Euphrasia possessed the virtue of humility the mother of all virtues.
8. Attitude of Gratitude.
“Attitude of gratitude is the best attitude”. One of the best attitudes of saint Euphrasia was that of gratitude. She never forgot to say a word of thanks to all who did even little favor, she had a beautiful expression, “Won’t forget even after death”- with a heart touching smile. Children were flocking to her to do some small favors in order to receive or to see her smiling face.
9. Charity without Frontiers.
‘There shouldn’t be even a single day that lacks charitable deeds’. Yes the words of the holy founder Kuriakose Elias Chavara had come true also in the life of this holy man. Euphrasia touched the heart of all with a content word by her acts she became “a Mother” for all. At her canonization Pope Benedict told about this holy mother, that ‘she dedicated her life before the Lord in prayer and shared it to others by a beautiful smile’… she was always close to those who were sick in community and served them with much love. She was feeling so much to the people who await her’ your charity will bring salvation to souls”.
M y Life is My Message.
“Difficulties are sorrows, if accepted out of love are transformed into a privileged way of holiness’. Pope Paul II. St. Euphrasia was a saint who could smile even in the midst of accuts pain a suffering. Her joy was ‘leading a hidden life unknown to others;’ Euphrasia did not become a saint on a sudden day but by the constant efforts; of prayer & penance and doing sacrifices over seventy four long years. In this holy mother, we have a person who was born in our society just like anyone of us, and lived a humble simple but a holy life. She was woman fully alive. She was an open Bible before all she was a ‘theophany’- brought god near us. Looking from above her smiles and say.
¨ Remember our call is a call to holiness.
¨ Love Jesus more than anything &more than anyone.
¨ Love Mary as the only Mother and pray the Rosary as much as possible.
¨ Have great love to the Eucharistic Jesus and His Sacred Heart.
¨ Say always thanks for any favor at least a smile.
“To every Indian that sanctity ‘the one thing necessary’ is possible also in our own times”. The holy life of Mother Euphrasia gives the message to our world today that “Holiness is within the reach of everyone’. Euphrasia brought about in their life what others only talked about. She “willed’ and she became.
We do not have to look for models outside as though sanctity is outside our reach. St. Euphrasia was an ‘angel’ among us as a CMC sister. Now she has become a ‘star’ to show us the way to inspire us and to imitate… There is an old Peruvian proverb…
‘Pilgrim, Pilgrim, Pilgrim.
There is no way, no way, no way.
You make the way, you make the way, you make the way
By walking, walking, walking.”