Latitude of Heart: An Ideal to Follow in a Busy Missionary Life (Part 1)
January 31, 1800, just at the moment of leaving their "cachette" or "hiding place" in Les Sables d'Olonne (France) and becoming actively committed in parish ministry, two missionaries namely, Fr. Lebedesque (French priest) and Fr. Baudouin (FMI Founder) strengthen their relationship by the vows of religion. These two distinguished men have outlined their life plan in what comes to be called "the Primitive Rule."
Fr. Pierre Remaud, FMI in a recent study of this document (The Primitive Rule) thinks that it developed over the years. According to him, Chapter eight of the Rule which treats with latitude of heart came from a letter of Louis-Marie Baudouin to his friend and brother, Fr. Lebedesque, written in a setting of his active involvement of pastoral ministry (1801-1802), when their responsibilities overwhelmed them and that the pressure, perhaps today called activism, waylaid them.
Here is how Louis-Marie Baudouin (founder of the FMI Congregation serving in Dominica) defines "Latitude of Heart." Coming from the Latin word "Latitudine", it expresses being at ease. This idea is taken from Psalm 119: 45 – "I shall walk at liberty, for I have sought your precepts." Therefore, latitude of heart is the manner of a child who does the Father's will with joy, promptly, at ease and following the example of Jesus, the Incarnate Word who desires nothing else than to do the will of his Father. The heart which experiences this latitude of heart is large, at ease, never constrained nor embarrassed.'
Commenting on Sirach 2:1-5 to religious priests, sisters and brothers tempted to give up or may feel discouraged, He says: "Do not be hasty to do anything in a time of darkness. When you have doubts about your vocation, times that are clouded, fears, desire to change your state in life, of religion, to abandon everything. Do not be pressured to act; wait for peace and enlightenment with courage." (Retrieved from Latitude of Heart –Therese-Marguerite Gilbert, U.J – FMI Spirituality)