November 20, 2019

Sister M. Emilie – A heroic child of God

Sr. Ana Paula R. Hyppólito

Inner freedom! Who does not want to reach this and live it in fullness?

The anniversary of the departure of Sister Emilie Engel into eternity invites us to look at her. We discover the power of grace which became more and more effective in her life in a long process. Her inner growth enabled her to overcome many difficulties and to attain the true freedom of the children of God.

She was a very ordinary person

When we read about the life of a saint and learn about his/her virtues, we can sometimes be discouraged because holiness seems unattainable to us ordinary people. With Sister Emilie we see how human, how “normal” she is, with her limits and weaknesses, but also with her possibilities. She recognizes her bright and dark sides and is formed and educated by Father Joseph Kentenich. She is serious and longs to be able to open herself to the grace of God and to go beyond the limits of her temperament and her structure. She is not a saint from birth, but experiences a continuous process of inner maturation and growth into true inner freedom.

The Secret of Sr. M. Emilie

 What is the secret of her small but growing victoriousness? She understands: The experience of being loved by God and the Blessed Mother, of being their beloved and little child, is the essential condition not to become discouraged, but to fight and win in all the challenges of life.  In this awareness of being loved, she experiences a growth in true freedom and in being a child before God. To be a child, to be free, small, happy and therefore holy are synonymous expressions and realities for her!

This “childlike” freedom before God, the merciful Father, is the goal of Sr. M. Emilie’s striving for holiness. Under the guidance of Father Joseph Kentenich and through her deep life of prayer, she overcomes fears and inner needs. She ennobles her temperament and becomes more and more joyful, natural, spontaneous, flexible and helpful, so that people feel at ease near her. In this way she becomes a helper and spiritual advisor for many.

 “I want to be and must become a saint, whatever it may cost!

What path does she take in her search for this ideal of holiness?

 “More and more she succeeds in turning her gaze away from the contemplation of … I and turns exclusively to the light that shines before her. In the course of time she finds the way to an inner freedom that shines all the brighter on the background of the fragility and lack of freedom of her nature, so that towards the end of her life this light literally breaks out of her. In Emilie, the inner conviction is strengthened that it is precisely boundaries and sicknesses that are a right to the boundless mercy of God the Father”. (M. Wolff, My Yes Remains, p. 29)

  • To turn your attention away from herself,
  • to concentrate on God, on prayer, on childlike devotion,
  • to view her life story and God’s providence from a positive perspective as opportunities for growth and maturation, not as senseless suffering;
  • to see her limitations as a means of making God’s mercy pour out even more on her,

these are the paths that Sister Emilie has taken. When she began to look at everything with childlike eyes, she came to true inner freedom and charity.

 “Emilie learned in the course of her life that everything depends on the yes of faith to God in response to God’s yes to me, just as I am, the way He created and accepted me. This includes errors and limitations of all kinds; they are the very reason that God turns to me in healing and sanctifying love”.  (M. Wolff, My Yes remains, p. 30)